On 6-6-18, George Wuerthner, presented his talk "Wilderness Under Siege", about the current threats to wild places and the history of attempts to protect wilderness areas. He mentioned that we value wild places many reasons: for beauty, reverence, wonder, clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, more biodiversity, more resiliency, carbon storage, oxygen, intrinsic value, reciprocity, a community to which we belong, and the value of knowing that these places exist. It is also a place where evolution and the interconnections of species can continue.
He said that only 5% of the income in areas near wild places comes from commodity businesses such as oil, coal, mining and logging. Oil, grazing, mining, and logging are subsidized by tax dollars and by allowing the destruction of the environment.
Threats: Using radio collars in wilderness areas in Idaho on wolves in order to track and shoot them. A court ruling has stopped this. Sen Murkowski of AK, Trump, and Secy Zinke want to build a road in wilderness near King Cove. There is a proposal for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by the Canning River . Zinke is reducing the sizes of national monuments (Bears Ears and Grand Staircase) in order to increase oil drilling. He wants to decrease the size of the Oregon Cascade- Siskyou in order to increase logging. Congress is considering a loophole to waive all environmental laws within 100 miles of the borders with Mexico and Canada. HR 2406, the Sportsman Heritage bill would allow roads and dams to be exempt from environmental protections.
HR 2936 , the Resiliency bill would allow areas up to 30,000 acres to be clearcut without judicial review. Areas of this size could be chosen next to each other so that huge areas could be clearcut. Endangered species would not be protected. Winning attorneys working on behalf of the wildplaces would not be paid. Rain , flood, snow, drought, insects, etc. could be used to exempt forests from protections. Logging and thinning would be allowed. Potential wilderness areas ( in WY, UT, and NV) would be eliminated.
Solutions- Think Big. Have goal that seems impossible. Think similar to the civil right movement and the womens rights movement. E.O. Wilson says that we should protect and set aside one half. Currently 15 % of the earth's land area has some protections. And 2 % of the oceans. Vote! Change Congress! Write letters to the editor of local papers. Call your congresspersons. Read conservation history. George Wuerthner said that we should read the books by the founders of the Wilderness Society: Bob Marshall, Sigurd Olson, Olaus and Mardy Murie, and Aldo Leopold. Just like Rachel Carson, George also said we should take children out into nature. Join WildernessWatch. Read John Muir and Thoreau. Dream Big- Bob Marshall wanted everything north of the Yukon River to be protected as parks and preserves.
There is good news. In Vermont for example, now after the widespread logging and farming have been radically reduced, the moose , bear, and lynx have come back.
George has had lots of jobs working in wild places. He tells neat stories.He criticized his roommate's poster of the Gates of Artic area, thinking that it looked empty. But then he hitchhiked to Alaska during summer and asked the guy who gave him a ride if there were any jobs. The guy said go to the Bureau of Land Management office nearby. He went. They asked if he had experience with surveying. He said he had had trigonometry. They said go to this doctor to see if you are healthy. He went, and the doctor said he was healthy. They sent him to be dropped off by a bush pilot by the Kobuk River. He asked what was up there. They said they didn't know. So off he went alone to survey. And it was the spot that he had criticized in his roommate's poster! And now he loved it. near Another time his 3-year old daughter wanted to go on along on his trip to investigate recent and older forest fires for a book and articles. He told her no because they would need to hike . She then barricaded herself into the back of his truck, so that she could go. She had to walk 4 to 8 miles day. He shows a slide of her tuckered out. Now she is grown up and has spent the summer doing biological surveys as a volunteer in really wild places. He told the story of how Teddy Roosevelt as president was confronted with a congressional bill that would prevent him from protecting a lot more wild areas. The pro-logging and pro -mining congress had the votes to override his veto. So he stayed up late into the night with the head of Forest Service, dedicating and protecting lots of areas.This is about his show:https://wildernesswatch.org/wilderness-under-siege-road-show This is about another activist's life. https://wildernesswatch.org/1964-wilderness-act/brandymoveson This shows current threats to wild places.:https://wildernesswatch.org/