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Wilderness and Economics

Wilderness and Economics


“A national park will not save the area. Rather, the restrictions and red tape that come with federal control would inhibit growth. Survival requires economic development, but a national park will limit our options.”

— Kathy Gagnon editorial opposing a national park in Maine published in Bangor Daily News May 11, 2014 [i]

Wildland preservation is motivated by a variety of ethical, biological, cultural, and recreational concerns. Rarely are efforts to protect wildlands motivated by an interest in promoting economic growth. Those working on wildland preservation issues have been forced to take up with the issue of local economic impacts because those supporting commercial development of those wild natural landscapes emphatically assert that wildland preservation damages the local and national economies by restricting access to valuable natural resources and constraining commercial economic activity that otherwise would take place.

The above quote from a recent editorial in the Bangor Daily News represents a frequent response that people have to any proposal to designate lands as parks, wilderness or other wildlands reserve. Yet numerous economic studies suggest that protecting landscapes for their wildlands values at the very least has little negative impact on local/regional economies and in most instances is a positive net economic benefit.

Not only are there economic opportunities that come with protected lands, including the obvious tourism-related business enterprises, but land protection has other less direct economic benefits. Wilderness and park designation creates quality of life attributes that attracts residents whose incomes do not depend on local employment in activities extracting commercial materials from the natural landscape but choose to move to an area to enjoy its amenity values.

Wildlands designation can also reduce costs and expense for communities by providing ecosystem services that would otherwise entail costs to taxpayers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fifth Wave (Part I)

The Fifth Wave (Part I)

[Chapter 25 of The Age of the Consequences]

“All things alike do their work, and then we see them subside. When they have reached their bloom, each returns to its origin . . . This reversion is an eternal law. To know that law is wisdom.” —Lao-Tsu

The First Wave

In the fall of 1909, twenty-two-year-old Aldo Leopold rode away from the ranger station in Springerville, Arizona, on his inaugural assignment with the newly created United States Forest Service. For this Midwesterner, an avid hunter freshly graduated from the prestigious Yale School of Forestry, the mountainous wilderness that stretched out before him must have felt both thrilling and portentous. In fact, events over the ensuing weeks, including his role in the killing of two timber wolves—immortalized nearly forty years later in his essay “Thinking Like a Mountain,” from A Sand County Almanac—would influence Leopold’s lifelong conservation philosophy in important ways. The deep thinking would come later, however. In 1909, Leopold’s primary goal was to be a good forester, which is why he chose to participate in a radical experiment at the time: the control and conservation of natural resources by the federal government.

aldo-leopold-with-horse                    Aldo Leopold as a new Forest Service ranger in the Southwest

Beginning in 1783, the policy of the federal government encouraged the disposal of public lands to private citizens and commercial interests including retired soldiers, homesteaders, railroad conglomerates, mining interests, and anyone else willing to fulfill America’s much-trumpeted manifest destiny. However, this policy began to change in 1872, when President Ulysses Grant signed a bill creating the world’s first national park—Yellowstone—launching the U.S. government down a new path: retention and protection of some federal land on behalf of all Americans.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fracking Go-ahead For National Parks as Controversial Infrastructure Act Becomes Law

Fracking Go-ahead For National Parks as Controversial Infrastructure Act Becomes Law

Weak fracking rules have officially been enshrined in law as the controversialInfrastructure Bill became an actlast night.

The new act will see national parks and groundwater protection zones at riskfrom fracking as the government backtracked on amendments agreed only weeks ago to increase the safety of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.

Amber Rudd, energy minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), said: “In the case of areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks, given their size and dispersion, it might not be practical to guarantee that fracking will not take place under them in all cases without unduly constraining the industry.”

She was supported by Peter Lilley, a self-described ‘global lukewarmist’Conservative MP, who said fracking should be  “pursued energetically”.

Conservative Votes

The weak fracking rules were passed by the House of Commons last night in a vote of 257 to 203 with five Conservative MPs defying the government’s stance on fracking.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Stop Stephen Harper’s Assault on our National Parks | Elizabeth May

Stop Stephen Harper’s Assault on our National Parks | Elizabeth May.

Unlike our current Prime Minister’s attack on climate policy and push for every pipeline and tanker in sight, this one is flying under the radar. In fact, Conservative Party talking points make great claims of having expanded the national park system.

The following is from the Conservative Party website:

Since 2006, the Government has taken significant action to protect our natural areas, including taking steps to add more than 160,000 square kilometres to the Canadian federal parks and marine conservation system — a more than 58 per cent increase…

And it is actually true that new parks, especially in the far north have added huge tracts of lands to the parks. But like a Trojan horse, within this gift is the destruction of the standards of ecological integrity that are necessary to maintain national parks — our highest order of conservation and protection.

I have already written of the disaster that is Sable Island National Park in Nova Scotia. This iconic island is famous for its dunes and wild ponies. I was the only MP to oppose the legislation that allowed for seismic testing inside the park and directional oil and gas drilling under it. The legislation for Sable Island National Park places the Canada-Nova Scotia Off-shore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) as the key regulator. The CNSOPB only has to inform Parks Canada about oil and gas activities inside the park; not consult even consult in advance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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