Sunday, February 3, 2019

Rewilding the West critical to reversing the extinction of Native America

The Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas resulted in a human-driven global impact on the Earth System in the two centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution. [Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492]
The name has been bastardized from Cyprian to Siparyann to Slippery Ann Creek. It has become a safe refuge where elk gather as they leave summer grazing in the upper Missouri River Basin and migrate downstream to escape the winter. Managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the area is at the extreme west beginning of the Fort Peck Reservoir in eastern Montana.

An Odd Goddess and an interested party counted a hundred wapiti in the meadow while another hundred browsed and bugled concealed by the cottonwood and willow stands on the riverbanks. The waxing gibbous moon extended our viewing time well beyond twilight and long after the line of humans in cars and trucks on the road below us had dispersed. Then, coyotes harmonized in a chorus that continued until dawn. Spring flooding sustained stands of grass that still hid calves and cows while they lazed about.
Undeterred by its local unpopularity, last year the nonprofit bought an old storefront in downtown Lewistown for an office. [American Prairie Reserve]’s Laura Huggins said the building will eventually become a “gateway” to the APR, much like the community of West Yellowstone welcomes visitors to neighboring Yellowstone National Park. [Rural heart of Montana confronts change at Lewistown conference]
Global warming has been accelerating since humans began setting fires to clear habitat, as a weapon or just for amusement. Evidence that we humans have eaten or burned ourselves out of habitats creating catastrophes behind us is strewn throughout the North American continent. European settlement and the Industrial Revolution in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests. Desertification driven by agricultural practices, overgrazing, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and urban sprawl have turned much of the United States into scorched earth.

The Anthropocene is now and time to rewild some of the American West eventually becoming part of a Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell in Montana along the Missouri River through North Dakota to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Canadian River through eastern Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, western Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Clear the second growth conifers and restore aspen habitat, prescribe burns, begin extensive Pleistocene rewilding using bison and cervids, empower tribes and buy out ranchers or lease private land for wildlife corridors, turn feral horses from Bureau of Land Management pastures onto other public land to control exotic grasses and elect Democrats to lead the way.




1 comment:

larry kurtz said...

"The Green New Deal rightly acknowledges the need to embed equity, diversity and social justice in any future for the U.S. Owners and laborers who work the land are already overwhelmed by debt or clouded by pollution or uncertainty over their future. The average age of the farmer is 58, and getting older, and their farms are increasingly going under. This Green New Deal could reimagine farmland as a center of resilience, where farmers would be paid to harvest wind and sun, sequester carbon, conserve soil and water through reforestation and rewilding, and grow diverse, nutritious foods for local communities." [The Green New Deal could be our only hope: In praise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's vision]