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Rewilding in the Media #4

Grizzly c/o Susan Morgan

Grizzly (c) Susan Morgan

Editors’ note:  Fortunately, rewilding projects and ideas are in the news more and more frequently.  Unfortunately, this is largely because the extinction and climate crises have worsened to the point that truly bold and visionary conservation and restoration work are essential to saving life on Earth.  In this periodic summary, we list some of the notable stories in the media pertaining to protecting and restoring wild Nature.  These are some highlights from late June-July 2021. We urge sharing links to the ones you find most inspiring.

1. Natural England Action Plan 2021 to 2022

“Natural England, a non-departmental public body that advises the UK government on environmental issues, released a report laying out the priorities, budgets and targets in its second year of working toward its organizational strategy and committing to fulfill the UK government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.”

2. Mongabay, In Scotland, the rewilding movement looks to the past to plan its future

“Scotland is the site of an ambitious rewilding project with a centuries-long timeline for restoring the forests that once blanketed the now-familiar landscape of barren moors. The effort brings together a patchwork of private landowners, government landholdings and conservation charities, all working to restore the habitat through tree planting.”

3. Crushing climate impacts to hit sooner than feared: draft UN report

“Climate change will fundamentally reshape life on Earth in the coming decades, even if humans can tame planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, according to a landmark draft report from the UN’s climate science advisors obtained by AFP.”

4. Agricultural and Rural Convention, Romania: How Wild Is Too Wild?

“What would you consider to be an acceptable level of personal risk for you and your family in livestock farming? Imagine life in a small caravan with two young children on the edge of wilderness where wolves and bears freely roam. Imagine these same apex predators testing your ability to protect your flock at night whilst you are trying to sleep. This is the constant reality for a young family trying to make a living from their land in Transylvania.” Photo essay by Paul White.

5. Earth Justice, Groups File Legal Notice Over Montana Wolf Trapping’s Threat to Grizzlies, Lynx

“Citing the risk to other imperiled animals, Earthjustice sent a notice of intent to sue the state of Montana today for implementing new laws permitting snaring of wolves and expanding trapping seasons to reduce the wolf population.”

6. From Wilderness Watch 6/23/21:

“On June 16, two officials with the Biden administration testified at a Senate Subcommittee hearing against Sen Mike Lee’s (R-UT) Mountain Bikes in Wilderness bill, S. 1686, also known as the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act.

Nada Culver, Deputy Director of Policy and Programs for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), testified on behalf of the Department of Interior. ‘The Department strongly opposes S. 1686,’ she testified. ‘Allowing mechanical travel in designated wilderness areas would undermine the principles of the Wilderness Act, which was intended to preserve certain lands in their natural condition, protect watersheds and wildlife, and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and scientific research. Only a small portion of the public land in the United States is designated as wilderness, with the purpose of preserving land from uses that could damage the natural condition, yet there are many opportunities across Department of the Interior managed lands to use mechanically assisted travel.’

Chris French, Deputy Chief of the Forest Service for the National Forest System, also testified against the bill on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of which the Forest Service is a part. Mr. French unequivocally stated that ‘we strongly oppose S. 1686, ‘Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act.’ The Deputy Chief further added, ‘Specifically, S. 1686 would increase management challenges associated with preserving Wilderness character by altering the consistent interpretation and implementation of the Wilderness Act’s prohibition on mechanical transport across the National Wilderness Preservation System.’”

7. Red Rock News, Wolf Anubis roams now-closed national forests

“Amid extreme fire danger, multiple active fires and official forest closures, U.S. Forest Service offi­cials have largely emptied the now-closed Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, but somewhere on the Colorado Plateau above Sedona, a 1-year-old endan­gered male Mexican wolf named Anubis is roaming.”

8. Endangered Species Coalition, Arizona Game And Fish Department Won’t Let Wolves Be Wild

“Conservation groups are voicing opposition today to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s pursuit to capture a solitary Mexican gray wolf who has been living peacefully in the national forests north of Williams and Flagstaff for over a month. There have been no documented human or domestic animal conflicts with the wolf and the agency seems motivated simply by its insistence that wolves stay south of Interstate 40 for reasons that are wholly political rather than based in science. In addition, the agency’s relocation efforts pose a grave risk to this wolf in the context of active fire danger in the area.”

9. A new website highlights grassroots support for the national goal of conserving and restoring at least 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030. With a call to #SaveMoreNature, the site (30x30Groundwork.org) shows dozens of examples of locally-led conservation solutions around the country that are contributing to the 30×30 goal, in addition to hundreds of elected officials who have spoken up in support of the effort. Hosted by the American Nature Campaign, the 30x30Groundwork site includes case studies of 30×30 in action, demonstrating the breadth of conservation mechanisms and locally-driven efforts on the way to reaching the national 30×30 goal.

10. Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI) has a new website. Take a few moments to reflect on the critical importance for, and healing measure of, conserving and restoring the wild nearshore.

11. Wildlands Network, Landmark Legislation to Protect Wildlife Corridors Passes U.S. House of Representatives

Marking a significant step for wildlife conservation, the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act along with $400 million for projects to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, passed the United States House of Representatives as part of H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act.  (See the Wildlands Network website to stay up to date on this legislation.)

12. Guardian, Is it time to being rewilding the seas?

“From giant clams to zebra shark, marine biologists want to replace lost and vanishing species at sea but face unique obstacles – not least rampant overfishing.”

13. Monterey Herald, Bay Area man named chief of U.S. Forest Service, will oversee twice as much land as all national parks

Biden names Randy Moore, who will become the first African-American to lead the Forest Service.

14. Center for Biological Diversity, Endangered Black-Footed Ferrets Proposed for Reintroduction Throughout Arizona

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just proposed reintroducing endangered black-footed ferrets to at least four new areas in Arizona once numbers of their prey species — prairie dogs — have increased enough.

15. Bay Area News Group, ‘Desecration’: Marin tribal descendants oppose Point Reyes plan

“Coast Miwok descendants in Marin County are urging U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation’s first Native American cabinet secretary, to reject a controversial plan at Point Reyes National Seashore that it says prioritizes commercial cattle ranching over protecting archaeological sites and the environment.”

16. Wildlands Network, First-ever Map and Priority Restoration Areas of Border Wall through Arizona and New Mexico Released

“The first publicly available map documenting the U.S.-Mexico border wall through New Mexico and Arizona was released Tuesday. The map depicts completed sections of border wall as well as other related construction activities and is the most accurate, detailed and up-to-date documentation of new sections of border wall completed during the Trump Administration.”  Conservation groups oppose construction of the border wall and call for its immediate dismantlement in key wildlife corridors.

17. LA Times, This architect is trying to save cougars from becoming roadkill on California freeways

“Architect Robert Rock is facing a Herculean task: Design a bridge that will allow mountain lions to cross safely over a stretch of the 101 Freeway that roars with the traffic of 300,000 vehicles each day.”

18. Earth Island Journal, Arizona’s Last Ocelot Faces A Life in Isolation

“The ocelot population, once abundant in the high Sonora desert, has plummeted as hunters sought their fur and housing expanded into their territory. In 1982, they were designated an endangered species. Now they face a new threat: Lil’ Jefe is likely one of the last ocelots in Arizona, cut off from his fellow cats by what Donald Trump trumpeted as his major achievement as president — the construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico. The wall has bisected almost perfectly what has long been the terrain of male ocelots — southern Arizona and New Mexico — from the terrain of female ocelots, most of them concentrated about 40 miles south, on the other side of the border.”

19. Extinction Rebellion, Rewilding: An Introduction

“A lot has changed in Yellowstone Park in the past twenty-five years. Healthy stands of willow trees line the banks of streams. Songbirds sing from tree branches. Beaver dams made of willow dot the streams. If you’re lucky, you can spot a beaver slapping its tail on the surface of the water. Twenty-five years ago, it would’ve been difficult to find any of these species. What changed? And what made this healthy ecosystem possible? In one word: wolves.”

20. Durango Herald, Colorado’s 1st Gray Wolf Pack Since 1940s Now Has 6 Pups

“Gray wolves were hunted, trapped and poisoned into extermination in Colorado in the 1940s.

Wildlife advocates see reintroduction in Colorado as a vital step in restoring the wolf more quickly to habitat stretching from the Canada to the Mexico border. Wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies in the 1990s, and some 3,000 of the animals now roam portions of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Northern California.”

21. Durango Herald, Saving great landscapes of the American West

Conservation Lands Foundation promotes grassroots approach to protecting lands

22. The Nature Conservancy, House Lawmakers Propose Major Investment in America’s Wildlife

“A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives today introduced a bill to greatly expand support for state and local efforts to help imperiled species. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) would invest $1.397 billion to support on-the-ground conservation efforts to help protect and recover species. These efforts include conserving and restoring habitats, fighting invasive species, reintroducing native species and tackling emerging diseases.”   See Wildlife For All communications for analyses of RAWA.

23. National Parks Traveler, National Park Service Gives Park Superintendents Authority To Ban E-Bikes

“Superintendents across the National Park System have been given permission to reverse course and deny trail access to e-bikes if they adversely impact park resources or other visitors.”

24. New York Times, Biden to Restore Protections for Tongass National Forest in Alaska

“Former President Donald J. Trump invited mining and logging to a vast wilderness of bald eagles, black bears and 800-year-old trees. President Biden is reversing course.

The USDA put out a press release announcing that it will restore and expand protections on the Tongass National Forest. The USDA’s release outlines a comprehensive approach to addressing the Tongass:

  1. USDA will initiate a rulemaking this summer that will propose restoring the 2001 Roadless Rule protections on the Tongass,
  2. USDA is ending large-scale, old growth logging in the Tongass,
  3. USDA will spend up to $25 million on economic development in the region to improve forest health, and
  4. USDA committed to consulting with Tribal governments, AK Native Corporations, and local stakeholders over the next month to deploy this $25M as well as identify longer-term investment opportunities in the region.”

25. The sagebrush sea is a landscape of stark beauty and captivating wildlife, yet rapid desertification and extractive industries threaten this vast basin. But at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Southeastern Oregon, a different story unfolds. Watch the film: Rewilding a Mountain.

26. New York Times, Joe Biden’s Monumental Environmental Gambit: Biden’s Made Progress on Climate, Even if Activists Can’t See It

“This is a good piece from the times on what Biden has done, what has to be done, and what it means.” – Jason Kahn, TRI director

27. Sierra Club, Groups File Promise to Challenge Idaho’s New Harmful Wolf Hunting Laws

“Citing risk to federally protected species, today ten groups filed a notice of intent to sue the state of Idaho in response to the state’s newest wolf hunting laws. The laws, which call for the killing of 90% of the current gray wolf population, allow for year-round untargeted methods of hunting, trapping, and snaring, with hunters and trappers allowed to kill an unlimited number of wolves on a single tag.”

28. The Hill, The Federal Government Must Step in to Save America’s Wolves

“We are in the midst of a crisis in the West; climate is showing us the reality of our future, with fire being the key ingredient. Yet the real crisis is not just what is happening to millions of acres of land, but what is occurring with wildlife — wolves in particular. Despite huge public outcry and concern, the governors of Idaho and Montana using the traditional tactics of division have rammed through their Republican-controlled legislatures some of the most heinous anti-wildlife bills in generations. Their key focus is the elimination of wolves.”

29. New York Times, It’s a Grizzly Bear Survival Program. For Grizzly Bears.

“In British Columbia, researchers have undertaken a unique challenge: tracking orphan grizzly cubs, reared in a shelter, to see whether they can thrive back in the wild.”

30. This is a great video of wildlife using a recently constructed wildlife overpass in Parley’s Canyon just outside Salt Lake City near Park City.

Spread Rewilding Around the Globe!

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