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Wilderness and Economics

Wilderness and Economics

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“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…

How to Prep When You’re NOT an Epic Wilderness Survival Guru

How to Prep When You’re NOT an Epic Wilderness Survival Guru

Did you ever read a blog post on a prepper site and sigh, because the person writing the post seemed to have been born a survivalist?

In your mind’s eye, you could envision them at the tender age of six, weaving a snare from some vines that they wisely assessed not to be poison ivy, catching a rabbit, skinning and gutting it with a pocketknife, and cooking it over a fire they started with two sticks that they rubbed together, while wearing their little elementary-school-sized camo outfit.

Discouraging, isn’t it?

But not everyone can be Daryl Dixon.

In fact, I really don’t believe that the majority of preppers actually are rugged survival gurus. Most of us had to make a conscious effort to learn. Most of us aren’t wilderness guides or professional hunters or military special forces operatives.  We don’t regularly pop a deer in the backyard with a homemade bow, we don’t have a bunker with 30 years of storable food and an aquifer we can access from within the safety of its walls, we don’t isolate our children from all forms of popular culture, and we don’t live in the middle of nowhere, so deep in the woods that we have to carefully climb a tree while clenching a laptop in our teeth to get an internet signal. We aren’t all off-grid homesteaders that weave our own fabric from the sheep we nurtured through a Himalayan winter.

Nope.

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

 

 

 

 

The Working Wilderness

The Working Wilderness

[An excerpt from Chapter 18 of my book The Age of Consequences]

During a conservation tour of the well-managed U Bar Ranch near Silver City, New Mexico, I was asked to say a few words about a map a friend had recently given to me.

We were taking a break in the shade of a large piñon tree, and I rose a bit reluctantly (the day being hot and the shade being deep) to explain that the map was commissioned by an alliance of ranchers concerned about the creep of urban sprawl into the five-hundred-thousand-acre Altar Valley, located southwest of Tucson, Arizona. What was different about this map, I told them, was what it measured: indicators of rangeland health, such as grass cover (positive) and bare soil (negative), and what they might tell us about livestock management in arid environments.

What was important about the map, I continued, was what it said about a large watershed. Drawn up in multiple colors, the map expressed the intersection of three variables: soil stability, biotic integrity, and hydrological function—soil, grass, and water, in other words. The map displayed three conditions for each variable—“Stable,” “At Risk,” and “Unstable”—with a color representing a particular intersection of conditions. Deep red designated an unstable, or unhealthy, condition for soil, grass (vegetation), and water, for example, while deep green represented stability in all three. Other colors represented conditions between these extremes.

…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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