Less than a week after President Trump signed the Oregon Wildlands Act into law (as one of many bills in the John D. Dingell, Jr., Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-3rd-OR) convened an Oregon Public Lands Forum on Monday, March 18, 2019.Read More
National Wildlife Refuges
While the how, when, where, and why of mining on federal public lands is important (see Part 1), at least as important is where notto mine on federal public lands. These include places where the public’s interest in the conservation of natural, historical, and cultural values outweighs the value of any minerals that might be had, places that have been reserved for the benefit of this and future generations rather than for the benefit of today’s corporation.Read More
Grasslands get little respect. So easily are they converted to agriculture that grasslands are the least protected biome on Earth.Read More
Several mostly good public lands conservation bills have been introduced in the 115th Congress (2017–18) but languish in committee, unable to get a vote on the floor of the House or the Senate.Read More
The Trump administration is trying to allow a 12-mile road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and wilderness area in Alaska.Read More
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recently issued its annual report on Oregon wolves. It contains great, good, bad, ugly and troubling news.Read More
As part of the tax bill recently signed into law by President Trump, at the behest Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Congress opened up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. The next battle over drilling the in the refuge is about to commence. For the caribou and nature, each battle must be won or at least a draw. For the forces of darkness, they must only win once.Read More
The pending tax cut legislation in Congress would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil exploitation. What does oil drilling that harasses caribou have to do with taxes? It’s a long and tangled tale,Read More
The originations of 25 of our 59 national parks, totaling 39.6 million acres, were first seeded by the establishment of a presidentially proclaimed national monument. Fourteen of these monumental 25 were established from more than one national monument proclamation, in that were expanded by later presidents.Read More
Federal conservation systems are an unqualified social good and generally provide elevated protection and better management to important federal public lands and to resources and areas of high national significance. All existing federal conservation systems could be improved, and none should be weakened or discarded. Those that haven’t yet been codified by Congress need to be.Read More
This least outdoors-loving American president makes me appreciate the most outdoors-loving president, Theodore Roosevelt. TR spent many a night outside of a bed under the open stars, including three nights in the Sierra with John Muir. Before TR left office in 1909, he had established, sometimes with Congress and sometimes without: 51 bird reservation, four national game reserves, five national parks, 18 national monuments, and 150 national forests. I fear the losses to be toted up when Trump leaves office.Read More
Compared to its four adjacent neighbors, Oregon has the smallest percentage of its lands designated as units of the National Wilderness Preservation System. While the average of the areas of the five states protected as wilderness is more than 9 percent, in Oregon less than 4 percent of the land is so protected. Oregon has 47 wilderness areas totaling 2,457,473 acres. Additional potential wilderness areas (a.k.a. roadless areas) in Oregon total more than 12 million acres, with approximately 61 percent of that area being generally tree-free (in the Oregon High Desert and other desert areas considered part of the sagebrush steppe, aka Sagebrush Sea) and the remainder generally forested. Congress should expeditiously expand the National Wilderness System in Oregon.Read More
During this Trumpian Quadrennium, with a Congress hostile to conservation, the chances of expanding the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) approach zero. Yet the need to double the size of the system has never been greater, so now is the time to start.Read More
Our beloved National Wildlife Refuge System arose with little systematic thought. From President Theodore Roosevelt’s proclamations of the first “national bird reservations,” many areas have been established under a multitude of names (wildlife refuges, wildlife ranges, game ranges, wildlife management areas, waterfowl production areas, and more). What they all have in common is that their primary purpose is the conservation of native animals.Read More
With President-elect Trump having won the Electoral College and the Republicans being in the majority of both houses of the coming 115th (2017-2018) Congress, the public lands conservation community is going to be on defense like never before.
It was either the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) or the Manassa Mauler, William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey (1895–1983) who famously said that the best defense is a good offense. The conservation community needs to be for good things while we are opposing bad things.
Though we’ve burned through one-sixth of the current century, Congress has yet to enact any sweeping and bold public lands conservation legislation in the new millennium. There’s still time though, and a crying need.
You may be questioning my grip on reality at this moment, given the recent election. While I am quite cognizant of the dark times that await us, I’m equally aware that it often takes several Congresses (two-year terms) to enact sweeping and bold legislation into law....
There is no time like the present to begin to change political reality.
If one rationally considered the probability of succeeding at elevating a discrete piece of federal public land to the status of a congressionally designated national what-have-you area (wilderness, wild and scenic river, national park, national monument, national recreation area, national wildlife refuge, or such), one might never embark on the voyage. One usually has to overcome an entrenched establishment of industry, locals, and government that doesn’t want things to change. Yet, conservationists proceed anyway, and if they are smart, clever, and persistent (with emphasis on the latter) enough, they do find success. It often takes a generation to change the world, or even a part of it.Read More
The American system of justice may be the best in the world, but it’s not perfect. In the matter of seven defendants who—by force of arms—illegally occupied and caused damage to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon, justice was not served.