Greetings, readers! This week in The Montana Conservationist: Louis Wertz of the Western Landowners Alliance…
I’m writing to you today with my last dispatch of The Montana Conservationist. I (your editor, Kate Arpin) have decided to step down from my position with SWCDM. Consequently, The Montana Conservationist will be on a hiatus until my position is filled.
I have been editing this newsletter for almost six years, and it has (mostly) been my pleasure to bring you local, state, and national conservation news and research over the course of 150+ issues. I wish you all the very best in your personal path towards local, common sense conservation, and I will miss the camaraderie of our conservation community.
This week, instead of doing a regular I’m linking a couple of current stories and opportunities, plus re-posting my first ever issue of TMC, October 6, 2014. (Fun fact: I sent out that issue from a coffee shop near Zion). You’ll notice a couple of stories are still with us today. Back then, quagga mussels had just been found in a reservoir in South Dakota, and the Department of the Interior was asking for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It feels appropriate that Congress finally authorized permanent funding just last month.
TMC Through the Years
Dedicated readers might enjoy taking this look back at the evolution of TMC’s format. The first is from 2013 – before I was editor. The middle image is the first TMC I produced, and the third image is the last issue, from July 14, 2020.
Conservation Stories This Week
Full Court Suppress
Land managers anticipate pivot to ‘fast and furious’ wildfire strategy in light of COVID-19.
From Montana Free Press: “Higuera, who teaches fire ecology and paleoecology at the University of Montana, keeps tabs on how the public characterizes and discusses wildfire in the American West. He said land managers and the general population both are making strides toward appreciating fire’s role in healthy forest ecosystems.
But concerns generated by COVID-19 could reverse some of that progress as fire managers in the Northern Rockies prepare for a wildfire response that skews heavily toward suppression. This year, the agency’s goal is to catch and contain fires when they’re small so they won’t need to bring firefighters and support personnel from across the United States into fire camps of hundreds or even thousands of people. That could protect firefighters from COVID-19 infection and minimize the likelihood that they’ll introduce the virus to nearby communities, but it also has downstream consequences for the health and resilience of fire-adapted ecosystems.”
The Myth of a Wilderness Without Humans
This is a bit of a departure from our usual fare, but I read this interesting concept a couple of weeks ago, and I can’t get it out of my mind. The idea is this: our idea of “untouched wilderness” is based on the false premise that Native Americans weren’t actively managing the land.
From MIT Press: “By glorifying pristine landscapes, which exist only in the imagination of romantics, Western conservationists divert attention from the places where people live and the choices they make every day that do true damage to the natural world of which they are part.”
Congress Sends Landmark Conservation Bill to Trump
The legislation for the first time guarantees money for land acquisition and preservation, but conservatives denounced it as a federal land grab.
From NY Times: “The nation’s conservation community achieved a longstanding goal Wednesday when the House passed and sent to President Trump a measure that for the first time guarantees maximum annual funding for the premiere federal program to acquire and preserve land for public use.”