Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Conservation Policy

If you don't have a population policy, you don't have a conservation policy.

David Brower

Larch Occasional Papers

I produce a series of aperiodic papers on topics of interest to me (and I hope at least some others).


Mergers, Acquisitions, Diversifications, Restructurings and/or Die-Offs in the Conservation Movement argues that there are too many unsustainable conservation organizations. It appeared in Wild Earth.

The Lesser of Two Evils is a about federal recreation fees that appeard in Wild Earth.

Ecosystem Management Must Include the Most Human of Factors is a viewpoint I published in BioScience warning scientists to not give discretion in their recommendations to resource managers, as bureaucratic incentives almost always call for the manager to take the minimum values.

Bureau of Land Management National Conservation Areas: Legitimate Conservation or Satan's Spawn?, co-written with Mark Salvo, appeared in the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy.

Volunteerism Alone Cannot Save the Planet is a book review I wrote for Cascadia Times on Oregon's Living Landscape: Strategies and Opportunities to Conserve Biodiversity and Stewardship Incentives: Conservation Strategies for Oregon's Working Landscape, both published by Defenders of Wildlife.

Wallowa County Chieftain Columns

Abolish the Bonneville Power Administration argues that the environment would be better served without it.

Taxpayer-Funded Animal Slaughter Obsolete is about the federal Animal Damage Control program (now known as "Wildlife [sic] Services."

Fund Federal Forests With Recreation Receipts argues that hikers need to pay fair share is an earlier argument for user fees for federal recreationists.

Lions & Hunters & Bears argues that banning the baiting of bears and the hunting of bears and cougars with dogs was the right thing to do.

Welcome Back the Wolf. The wolf is coming back to Oregon. It is in their and our interest to make them at home.

Save the Primates and Free Willy argues that ecause we share so much DNA with monkey and whales which have extraordinary intelligence (and perhaps souls), these species deserve special treatment and respect closer to how we treat our own species than all the others.

Amphibians on Earth Like Carny in Coal Mine suggests that global declines in amphibians may be due to the decline in stratospheric ozone.

Increase Supply to Alleviate Wilderness Shortage argues that the supply of protected Wilderness isn't keeping up with consumer demand (and if we don't limit Oregon's population, all bets are off).

Burden of Proof Should Be on Polluters, Not Children argues that the very rational legal concept for criminal defendants of "innocent until proven guilty" should be the opposite for chemical compounds and other forms of pollution.


If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than with sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not as it looked when we got through with it.

President Lyndon B. Johnson

The concept of conservation is a far truer sign of civilization than that spoilation of a continent which we once confused with progress.

Peter Matthiessen, Wildlife in America (1959)

Even if we have to find a secular term for it, we must have an idea that the whole of creation is good in itself and that humans are not privileged to trash it, even if they can do so without destroying themselves. Dark green instead of light green. Utilitarianism is the watchword of light green environmentalism.

Robert Bellah, (in an e-mail exchange), principal co-author of Habits of the Heart, UCB Berkeley Sociology Professor Emeritus

The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "what good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

Have we learned this first principle of conservation: to preserve all the parts of the land mechanism? No, because even the scientist does not yet recognize all of them.

In our attempts to save the bigger cogs and wheels, we are still pretty naive. A little repentance just before a species goes over the brink is enough to make us feel virtuous. When the species is gone we have a good cry and repeat the performance.

I think we have here the root of the problem. What conservation education must build is an ethical underpinning for land economics and a universal curiosity to understand the land mechanism. Conservation may then follow.

The problem, then, is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as land, among whom education and culture have become almost synonymous with landlessness. This is the problem of 'conservation education."

The evolution of a land ethic is an intellectual as well as emotional process. Conservation is paved with good intentions which prove to be futile, or even dangerous, because they are devoid of critical understanding either of the land, or of economic land use. I think it is a truism that as the ethical frontier advances from the individual to the community, its intellectual content increases.

The mechanism of operation is the same for any ethic: social approbation for right actions: social dis-approval for wrong actions."

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

The increasing human ability to do things outstrips the evolution of our ability to understand both what we should be doing and the full implications of what we are now doing.

Paul Ehrlich, Human Natures: Genes, Culture and the Human Prospect (2000, pg. 281).

Ecological Restoration

1. Mimic nature wherever possible.

2. Work outward from areas of strength, where the ecosystem is closest to its natural condition.

3. Pay particular attention to "keystone" species—those that are key components of the ecosystem, and on which many other species depend.

4. Utilize pioneer species and natural succession to facilitate the restoration process.

5. Re-create ecological niches where they've been lost.

6. Re-establish ecological linkages—reconnect the threads in the web of life.

7. Control and/or remove introduced species.

8. Remove or mitigate the limiting factors that prevent restoration from taking place naturally.

9. Let nature do most of the work.

10. Love nurtures the life force and spirit of all being, and is a significant factor in helping to heal Earth.

Used by Tree of Life, The Park, Findhorn Bay, Forres IV36 OTZ, Scotland, cited in International Journal of Wilderness, Volume 2, Number 3, December 1996, page 41

The critical question of “standing” would be...put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environment issues to be litigated before federal agencies and federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature's ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation. See Stone, Should Trees Have Standing?: Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects, 45 S. Cal. L. Rev. 450 (1972). This suit would therefore be more properly labeled as Mineral King would v. Morton. *** (t)he problem is to make certain that...America's beauty have spokesmen before they are destroyed. *** The voice of the inanimate object, therefore should not be stilled.

Justice William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court, Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727, 741-742, 745, 749 (1972) (Douglas, W. O, dissenting).

We're going to be remembered for what we've left of the land rather than what we've built on it.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in "Conservationists Win Battles but Fear War Is Lost", New York Times, Tuesday, January 11, 2000, D5 by William K. Stevens

If we are going to whittle away at (significant landscapes), we should recognize, at the very beginning, that the whittlings are cumulative and the end result will be mediocrity.

Newton Drury, former director, National Park Service

Only public ownership can reliably, certainly and durably allow certain natural processes the room they need.

Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club in "Downpayments on the Rewilding of America" in Wild Earth Winter 1998/99 8(4) page 37

The concept of conservation is a far truer sign of civilization than that spoilation of a continent which we once confused with progress.

Peter Matthiessen, Wildlife in America (1959, p. 21)

You can't break nature's laws; you can only prove them.

Denis Hayes