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Rewilding in the Media #5

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 – compiled by our Managing Editor, Katie Shepard from TRI board and staff conversations – from late July-August 2021. We urge sharing links to the ones you find most inspiring.

1. A new paper, “Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition” by Seibert & Rees

Abstract: We add to the emerging body of literature highlighting cracks in the foundation of the mainstream energy transition narrative. We offer a tripartite analysis that re-characterizes the climate crisis within its broader context of ecological overshoot, highlights numerous collectively fatal problems with so-called renewable energy technologies, and suggests alternative solutions that entail a contraction of the human enterprise. This analysis makes clear that the pat notion of “affordable clean energy” views the world through a narrow keyhole that is blind to innumerable economic, ecological, and social costs. These undesirable “externalities” can no longer be ignored. To achieve sustainability and salvage civilization, society must embark on a planned, cooperative descent from an extreme state of overshoot in just a decade or two. While it might be easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for global society to succeed in this endeavor, history is replete with stellar achievements that have arisen only from a dogged pursuit of the seemingly impossible.

2. A new paper on the climate emergency, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021,” can be accessed here.

“In short, we found that, despite the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate action to date has been insufficient and current planetary vital signs reflect the catastrophic consequences of conducting business as usual. Renewing our call for transformative action, we propose specific policies including phasing out and ultimately banning fossil fuels.”— William J. Ripple, PhD

3.  Congress Calls for Lasting Protections for Migratory Birds
“Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) joined with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and 47 original co-sponsors today to introduce the Migratory Bird Protection Act, which reaffirms long-standing protections for migratory birds against industrial take, or the unintentional but predictable killing of birds. Bird populations in North America are plummeting — a stunning 3 billion birds have disappeared from the continent since 1970 — and federal law is essential to conserving and recovering these populations.”

4. Mountain Journal, “In This Wolf Man, There Are Enduring Echoes of Aldo,” Todd Wilkinson
Excerpts:

“While, as a conservation biologist, [Mike] has been in the center of discussions about endangered species, the theoretical concept of ‘rewilding,’ and drafting recovery plans for a number of different species you may have never heard of, foremost he is best known for his work with wolves.”

“I’m more interested in what I’m going to do rather than what I’ve done. The next at bat is always important. All of us need to be willing to step up to the plate.”

5. New York Times, Fleeting Glimpses of Indonesia’s Endangered Orangutans
“On the island of Sumatra, a devoted group of conservationists is grasping for a solution that will benefit both the animals and the people who live around them.”

6. Michigan Advance, What four new wilderness areas would mean for the U.P.
“The Trap Hills, Ehlco Area, Norwich Plains and a 2,000-acre addition to the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness area, all located within the bounds of the Ottawa National Forest in the western U.P., would form a combined 51,000 new acres of designated wilderness if approved by Congress. The “Keep the U.P. Wild” initiative to preserve the areas with a wilderness designation has so far accumulated 75 member organizations and businesses since spring 2019, with more signing on each week. […] preserving the four areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964 is crucial in order to protect them from energy interests that may pollute the waters, cut down trees and otherwise damage the large, wild expanses of nature.”

7. “If you haven’t seen this yet, very inspiring. Though still recovering, after 10 years the progress is astonishing.” —Jack Humphrey, TRI Digital Director. Watch here: The White Salmon River after Condit dam

8. Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s record has a dismal, anti-science bent when it comes to wolves, by Kim Crumbo, The Rewilding Institute’s Wildlands Coordinator
“Utah’s record, like too many other western states, has a dismal, anti-science bent when it comes to carnivores. The only chance that wolves can return to their ecologically crucial role in America’s wildlands — and that includes Utah — is to protect them under the Endangered Species Act.”

9. Vox, “There’s no going back”: The UN’s dire new climate report, explained
“How much has humanity already changed the climate? And how much worse will it get?”

10. The Boston Globe, The dirty dam truth
“Hydropower is often marketed as the kind of clean, renewable energy we’re supposed to want. It’s what dam developers have been claiming for decades. But a growing body of scientific research shows just the opposite.”

11. Sierra Club, A Modest Proposal: We Need More National Parks
“An expansion of our national park system would relieve pressure on existing parks by offering alternative national park experiences in other outstanding places. In addition, more protected forests, grasslands, and waters would fight climate change by sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide. They would also safeguard the full range of native plant and wildlife diversity.”

12. ‘Their bodies are in those trees’: Nevada tribes seek national monument status for sacred trees
“There’s a strand of trees in Nevada’s Spring Valley that are sacred to Native people. They’re worried a water pipeline to Las Vegas would destroy them.”

13. Los Angeles Times, Something is killing gray whales. Is it a sign of oceans in peril?
“Gray whales are dying at alarming rates. A Times investigation of their migrations from Mexico to Alaska offers clues to what is causing this marine mystery.”

14. New York Times, Finding the Will to Stave Off a Darker Future
“The I.P.C.C. report’s main points are these: First, nations have waited so long to curb emissions that a hotter future is essentially locked in, as are more droughts, more forest fires, more crippling heat waves, more sea level rise, more floods. The greenhouse gases that have already been pumped into the atmosphere are going to stay there a long time, inflicting misery for years to come. Point two: Humanity can still take a stand. It must.”

15. A new report, ScienceDaily, “Over 260,000 kilometers of rivers at risk due to proposed hydro dams
Summary: Over 260,000 kilometers of river could potentially be severed by planned hydroelectric developments, according to researchers. The Amazon, the Congo, and the Irrawaddy are just a few of the rivers at risk of losing their free-flowing status if the proposed construction of new hydro power dams takes place. The study showed that dams and reservoirs are leading contributors to the decline of free-flowing rivers around the world. It also provides a comprehensive list of science-based solutions to minimize the impacts of hydro power development in rivers.

16. The Wildlife News, Western Watersheds Wins State Grazing Lease
“Though most conservation groups focus on federal lands, a neglected area of concern are state properties. Throughout the West, most of these lands are either leased for timber cutting or livestock grazing. Although there are limited ways that conservation groups can influence state management (or lack thereof) of these lands, there are a few options that the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and a few other conservation groups have utilized to protect key parcels. The obstacles to public influence on state trust lands are numerous and similar across the West. But in some instances, the very regulations that protect resource abusers can sometimes be used to further conservation goals. For instance, WWP just won a 20-year lease on a 640-acre section along Champion and Fourth of July Creeks in the scenic Sawtooth Valley of central Idaho.”

17. The Wildlife News, Rewilding on a Global Scale: Addressing the Biodiversity Crisis
“While current human population growth, along with rising GHG emissions, poses the most long-term threat to both wildlands and biodiversity, there are also opportunities to strive towards the goal of protecting half of the Earth for biodiversity and other creatures. Not only is this goal achievable, but it is essential if human life is to be preserved at more than a survival existence. Furthermore, protecting half of the Earth is also a moral and ethical obligation of human society.”

18. New York Times, Court Blocks a Vast Alaskan Drilling Project, Citing Climate Dangers
“A federal judge in Alaska […] blocked construction permits for an expansive oil drilling project on the state’s North Slope that was designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years. The multibillion-dollar plan, known as Willow, by the oil giant ConocoPhillips had been approved by the Trump administration and legally backed by the Biden administration. Environmental groups sued, arguing that the federal government had failed to take into account the effects that drilling would have on wildlife and that the burning of the oil would have on global warming.”

19. The international Carnivore Damage Prevention News features articles from 3 continents. Skilled and experienced shepherds are often essential for effective protection of livestock in many situations, so there is also an interview with a graduate of one of Europe’s growing number of shepherd schools. Issue 22 can be downloaded from the CDPNews website (www.cdpnews.net): See PDF here.

20. Inspiring–From Rewild Scotland: 10-year span between the pics here.

21. NYDEC, Shortnose Sturgeon: New Population Study Underway
“Shortnose sturgeon was the first fish listed as endangered with enactment of the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Soon after, researchers conducted a population estimate for Hudson River shortnose sturgeon in order to develop recommendations for managing the recovery of this fish.  A second population study in the 1990s indicated a substantial increase in the spawning population from the 1970s. The shortnose sturgeon population in the Hudson River may now be the largest in the world. However, this assessment is based on research that is several decades old, and new studies are needed to support management and recovery actions.”

22. National Geographic Travel, Inside the political battle to preserve a sprawling national forest in California
“California’s Sierra National Forest is at the center of a conservation fight, with environmentalists pushing to turn it into a 2.5-million-acre national monument overseen by the National Park Service.”

23. Keystone PHD Studies, What Students Should Know About Conservation and Rewilding
“What do red kites, wolves, bison, and beavers have in common? These previously endangered species are now thriving in Europe. A conservation approach known as “rewilding” is responsible for their return.”

24. Audubon, New Federal Bill Will Help Bring Birds Back
Legislation introduced in the U.S. House will strengthen the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

See all the news from the National Audubon Society in their August 2021 Advisory Newsletter.

25. ScienceDaily, World’s biodiversity maps contain many gaps
“As the world’s nations prepare to set new goals for protecting biodiversity, researchers have identified where data gaps continue to limit effective conservation decisions.”

26. Lobos of the Southwest, Anubis Still Needs Your Help Staying Wild & Free in Northern Arizona!
Endangered Mexican gray wolf (m2520) remains at risk of capture and translocation just for roaming the forests north of Interstate 40.

27. LA Times, California builds a ‘Noah’s Ark’ to protect wildlife from extinction by fire and heat
“A hellish summer of extreme fire activity, drought and heat are again pushing some species to the brink of oblivion. Seized by a newfound urgency, state and federal biologists, research institutions, conservation organizations and zoos have been racing to save the most threatened species with a bold campaign of emergency translocations, captive breeding programs and seed banks.”

28. The Canyon Chronicle, World’s Largest Wildlife Bridge Could Save Mountain Lions
“The proposed Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing—a wide, vegetated bridge spanning the Ventura (101) freeway in Agoura Hills—will allow wildlife such as mountain lions, bobcats, gray foxes and mule deer to cross safely from the Simi Hills into the Santa Monica Mountains to find food, new habitats and potential mates.”

29. New York Times, Why We Need More National Parks
“Going to a national park in 2021 doesn’t mean losing yourself in nature. It means inching along behind a long line of minivans and R.V.s on the way to an already full parking lot. […] The best way to rebalance the scale? We need more national parks.”

30. Salt Lake Tribune, Is Utah Waging “Perpetual War on Cougars” With Hunting Rules?
“Utah wildlife officials are once again turning up the heat on the state’s cougars, claiming that killing predators will shore up flagging numbers of mule deer and bighorn sheep. […] But there is little scientific evidence supporting this idea, according to Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy.”

“An excellent Salt Lake Tribune article with finely honed remarks by Kirk Robinson, ED of Western Wildlife Conservancy and a member of TRI’s Leadership Council. Utah has a horrible recorded regarding carnivores. It recently received distinction as one of the Six Worst States to be a Wolf.” – Kim Crumbo, TRI Wildlands Coordinator

31. Washington Post, He is Britain’s famous shepherd-author-influencer. He wants to transform farming to save the planet.
James Rebanks is on a mission to ensure farming contributes to nature rather than abuses it as a commodity.

32. Sierra Club, The River Keepers
How a US millionaire worked with Chilean environmentalists to stop a mega dam project in Patagonia (Excerpted from the new biography of Doug Tompkins) 

“This is really worth reading. I know many of the details here, and it accurately portrays what happened. I think it is also instructive of how you fight an environmental battle. You don’t compromise and say ‘hey you can dam the river, but it has to be a smaller dam’ or whatever the typical activists of today do. Doug was an expert at ‘selling’ ideas, and fortunately he focused on conservation for the second half of his life.” – George Wuerthner

33. Street Roots, Forest management not so clear cut
“For decades, public land managers have focused on swiftly suppressing wildfires, an approach that’s been accompanied with calls to reduce the amount of fuels that can ignite in forests. But with Oregon seeing drier and hotter summers brought on by climate change and bigger forest fires, conservationists like Ingalsbee point to evidence for rethinking the current course of action. They’re starting to get traction.”

34. New York Times, Threatened Birds Have a Defender on N.Y. Beaches: The Plover Patrol
“Piping plovers, dun-colored shorebirds that lay their eggs in tiny scrapes in the sand, are easy to miss as they dart over the beach. Chris Allieri is harder to overlook. This past spring, Mr. Allieri started the N.Y.C. Plover Project, an organization dedicated to protecting the threatened birds on beaches in the Rockaways in Queens. He has recruited more than 50 volunteers who have spent most of the spring and summer patrolling the beaches to defend plovers from dogs and oblivious beachgoers.”

35. AZCentral, On the San Pedro River, water use is drying up stretches of a biodiverse ‘ribbon of green’
“More than 350 species of birds rely on this thriving habitat, many of them stopping to feed on their long migrations. The entire ecosystem depends on the San Pedro River. And the river’s base flow is sustained year-round by groundwater, which seeps from the soil and forms a slow-moving stream beneath the trees. The aquifer that nourishes the San Pedro is the same water source used by tens of thousands of people in surrounding towns. For decades, wells that supply the growing communities have pumped heavily from the aquifer, drawing down the water table.”

“The San Pedro is a critical wildway.”–Dave Foreman

36. Santa Fe, New Mexican, 30×30 conservation is good for ranches, too
“I am a rancher, an outdoorsman and an advocate for conservation. Many think these descriptions are in opposition to one another, but I do not. I ranch and farm in southern Colorado, in the upper Rio Grande watershed just a few miles from the New Mexico border. I sit on the board of my local land trust, in addition to several boards and committees aimed at boosting my local community’s quality of life. As we lose more and more land to unsuitable development, we are watching the ground shift beneath our feet as we speak, and now is the time for action.”

37. A coalition of conservation organizations is working to advance a proposal in Congress to establish the North American Grasslands Conservation Act. This legislation would create a landowner-driven, voluntary, incentive-based program to conserve and restore threated grassland ecosystems across the continent. The model for this concept is the successful North American Wetlands Conservation Act, or NAWCA. Follow #ActForGrasslands on Social Media for the latest.

38. Project Coyote, Conservation Groups Sue Wisconsin Natural Resources Board to Stop Illegal November Wolf Hunt
“Today (8/31/21) Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, and Project Coyote sued the state of Wisconsin over its reckless and politically motivated decision to authorize a quota of 300 wolves for the November wolf hunt, on top of the 218 known killed in a February hunt.”

39. Tap somewhere on the map and follow the path your water droplet takes through the watershed.
“That is amazing! Most people have no idea what a watershed is and even less what their watershed is. It shows that what they do to their lawn or street even ends up somewhere.  It also gives us a clear idea of what drainages end up where.  I’ll bet very few people in Western NY know that the water from the Allegheny State Forest ends up in the Mississippi.” – Jason Kahn, TRI board member

40. Watch this Red Wolf outreach video created by Wildland Network.


Red Wolves’ Last Stronghold from Wildlands Network on Vimeo.

Spread Rewilding Around the Globe!

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