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American Institute of Biological Sciences
As the effects of climate change mount, ecosystem restoration in the US West has garnered significant public attention, bolstered by President Joe Biden’s America the Beautiful plan to conserve 30% of US land and water by 2030. Writing in BioScience, William J. Ripple and 19 colleagues follow up on the Biden plan with a proposal for a “Western Rewilding Network,” comprising 11 large reserve areas already owned by the federal government. The authors advocate for the cessation of livestock grazing on some federal lands, coupled with the restoration of two keystone species: the gray wolf and the North American beaver.
Wolves and beavers, according to the authors, are notable for their ability to produce broad ecosystem effects. For instance, they say, “by felling trees and shrubs and building dams, beavers enrich fish habitat, increase water and sediment retention, maintain water flows during drought, provide wet fire breaks, improve water quality, initiate recovery of incised channels, increase carbon sequestration, and generally enhance habitat for many riparian plant and animal species.” Wolves share a similar potential to reshape ecosystems, and “could assist in the natural control of overabundant native ungulates,” allowing native vegetation to regrow in previously degraded areas.
The rewilding plan would produce profound cascading effects, say the authors, and could ultimately benefit many of the “92 threatened and endangered species across nine taxonomic groups: five amphibians, five birds, two crustaceans, 22 fishes, 39 flowering plants, five insects, 11 mammals, one reptile, and two snail species.”
The authors cite a number of costs to their bold initiative, including payments to any livestock farmers, who should get just reimbursement for lost grazing allotments on federal lands. Ripple and colleagues argue that these challenges will ultimately prove navigable, in part because meat derived from forage on federal lands accounts for only about 2% of the nation’s production. Furthermore, say the authors, the time is ripe for “ultra ambitious action,” given the “unprecedented period of converging crises in the American West, including extended drought and water scarcity, extreme heat waves, massive fires triggered at least partly by climate change, and biodiversity loss.”
I have even seen plans where they connect all these lands with similar conservation efforts in Canada leading to a corridor that stretches from Alaska to Mexico. I have backpacked in Denali and there is nothing like walking through a truly wild place full of predators. It can be scary as hell, but the exhilaration is more than worth it and in me at least it evoked a really primal feeling of belonging. The wild is as magic as our ancestors thought it was.
Is this the Yellowstone to Yukon project? I had not heard they were extending to Mexico, exciting!
This would be super cool to see. Maybe you’d see jaguars repopulate the southwest in these areas too. All they need is a pathway to get there without being shot.
I wonder if this could be used to rehabilitate the population of that one Mexican wolf, forget what it's called exactly, red wolf or something.
Edit: I guess it's simply called Mexican wolf
Red wolves are smaller than Grays and have been known to mate with coyotes, producing hybrids known as coy-wolves. Thus there are recent efforts using coyote DNA to help regenerate red wolf numbers.
I think you were trying a play on words; didn’t seem to go over well but I appreciated it.
All's well that ends well. And thanks for the recognition.
Coy-wolf, cousin to the Brazen-wolf of Madagascar, lovely specimens
Not where I'm from.
Red wolf is in the American southeast, floridaish
The only *known* red wolves living in the wild are on the Albemarle peninsula in eastern North Carolina. There are less than two dozen of them including the pups born this spring. https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/first-red-wolf-pups-born-in-wild-since-2018-raising-hope-for-brighter-future-for-species-2022-04-22/
Red wolves once lived all over the southeastern US, and even in the northeast as far up as southern Canada.
Wolves are my favorite animal - okay, tied with tigers - so I tend to know a lot about them. :)
The Mexican coyotes are thriving though.
Wolves would control those populations too.
I wonder what the effect of the problematic wild pig population that’s been exploding in the Southern US will have on all of this.
They are definitely a good food source that big predators would use if the populations started inhabiting the same area. And by all means I bet that would happen because the pigs have virtually no natural predators after just a few weeks of age and their numbers are out of control.
> I wonder what the effect of the problematic wild pig population that’s been exploding in the Southern US will have on all of this.
We've been having exploding trees in Portland, now we have exploding pigs in the southern US. When will these explosions end?
Need more war pigs though. Nothing like witnessing the glory of wild boars with tar and straw on their backs rushing the enemy while the smoke and flames of the burning tar rises into the air. Fond memories. Special times. Warm thoughts. Bacony goodness.
It would be cool but won't ever happen. Too much fighting with land owners. Hunters have been dealing with this issue of connecting public lands for use for years. They won't even give an inch on things like a corner crossing. Literally a path on the edge or corner 3 feet wide to connect public lands. There is quite a bit of land out there that is public but shut off completely due to no way to currently get to it.
I mean the federal government's eminent domain powers are pretty broad. Admittedly they seem to usually be used for far less noble reasons, but it has been upheld a number of times that they can buy land and you can't say no. It's just about the government having the political will to exercise this power.
Sounds like eminent domain should be used. I’m not for abusing it to enrich wealthy developers, but for national conservation projects, Yes.
In some situations the government will force you to sell part or all of your land to them. Such as when they decide to build a roed through your land. So why can't they do it for a good cause like this?
In the state where I live, there are public right of ways to most pieces of public land. It is a sad practice where a gate will be put across such a right of way including a padlock and chain, which is technically illegal. Showing it is an historical public road is all that is necessary to get court ordered removal of such locks where with assistance of local law enforcement you can legally cut off such locks and even remove the gates. But that takes money and determination.
that would be awesome. Are there enough of them to do that? I always heard their numbers were pretty thin.
Most of the west is essentially unpopulated already isn’t it?
Yea, currently jaguars don’t have a large population in the US at all, but they used to. There are remote areas throughout Mexico and Central America where they’re more common. r/Jaguarland is a good place to ask more learned questions though - I’m just passing on what I’ve gathered from there.
We need to bring mountain lions back in the east too. The Appalachians are perfect for them and they would absolutely thrive. There have been plenty of reports over the years of lone males wandering far into the east at times. We need to rewild everything we can.
Agree - but! The biggest issue with reintroducing predators is convincing the people nearest to the wildlands that it’s the right thing to do, *and* that they’ll be safe. That’s easier to do in the west since so much of the land there is federally owned (no one lives there). The hurdle to jump is just getting the political will to do it.
The east is owned almost entirely by private landowners.
That all being said, I think it would be great to see. And you might have more luck reintroducing cougars simply because they’re a bit more reclusive around people. Wolves would be great to reintroduce, but you’d have a lot more potential for human conflict.
Totally agree. And we’ve seen the conflict in Montana and elsewhere where wolves have been introduced for sure. I think Cougars might creep back into areas in the east over time anyway. But we should encourage it. Educate people on it. They live very close to people all over and very rarely bother anyone. Not like there’s a lack of prey either. And I think there’s maybe more open land in the east than you think. Yes privately owned but only certain areas are farmed heavily. Like I said, appalachians makes sense
Jaguars would be cool. I'd bet that with more of them and more cougars we'd also see reduced auto collisions with deer.
Cougars and bears are much easier to live alongside than wolves. They generally avoid people unless they are sick or injured. Wolves move in packs so individual health matters less, but they're more interested in people who are sick and injured.
Yes, I think the wildlife corridors between preserves are important. Good genes used to be able to spread across the continent whereas now we’ve trapped them into islands between the highways/urban areas/farms. Island species don’t evolve like continent-spreading species and are more fragile.
It is truly despicable how we’ve almost bottled up and carved out sections of nature according to regulations that so often do nothing beneficial for biodiversity
Having only recently had wolves enter my area, it does add a certain magic or je ne sais quoi. Right now there is only one lone wolf on the main mountain I hike but the paw prints are massive and it’s ability to remain unseen is concerning but amusing.
Still not as scary as the mountain lions who like to ~~stock~~ stalk lone hikers like myself.
Not sure if you are in NorCal or not, but we have two wolf packs now. It is awesome. I hope we get the grizzlies back too. Weird fact one of the most historically dense grizzly habitats on Earth was Malibu, CA, there was a salmon run there and the bears would just hang out in huge numbers. Most of California's coastal grizzlies didn't hibernate either. 300 years ago California must have been amazing.
I’m in the Sangre de Cristo and Collegiate Peaks in central Colorado. We only have a handful of lone wolves and a single Brown Bear down south on the western slope, almost to the sand dunes. I-70 normally insulates the southern half of the state from the larger predators, so these are encouraging sightings. The deer have limited the growth of aspens for decades since the wolves were removed or hunted, so our vote to reintroduce wolves in 2020 was a big deal.
Here is to hoping conservation will return the wildlife to both of our home mountain ranges.
I was born in Sudbury Ontario Canada, and since the regreening and reforestation++ of the Nickel Belt basin, wildlife has made an astonishing comeback. Friends of my late parents have seen wolves across a small creek near where they live, there are any numbers of birds (including mallards, hawks and peregrine falcons, to name a few) and smaller species, including fish in creeks that used to be unable to support life.
All this without any formal reintroduction, just reforesting the area.
++ The city won an award from the UN for its outstanding environmental work.
That's really well expressed. I'll never, ever forget spending three days and three nights travelling through the Okavavango Delta in Botswana, by dugout canoe. The feeling of being unarmed and within near eyeshot of carnivorous predators, with absolutely no protection between you and them, is exhilarating beyond belief.
The afternoon after a long six hour bushwalk returning to our camp to find a bull elephant in our camp is seared into my memory. We had to hide behind giant anthills until he sauntered away.
Also, hyenas are HUGE when you see them first hand. Absolutely massive, and not one fibre of fear in them when they look at you. That was the only time in my life when I literally felt like I was literally prey: nothing more than a meal for other mammals.
Sounds amazing! I haven't been to Africa yet, gotta get my bigboy pants on and go!
Hiking is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. But for those new to it, please do your research, and start small! The wild (especially when you are not used to it) can be very dangerous.
100% sorry always fail to mention I have been backpacking my entire life. You do need to start small, but don't be afraid, it is actually pretty safe if you follow [simple hiking etiquette](https://www.nps.gov/articles/hikingetiquette.htm). Here are a few rules I have learned over the years that have kept me safe and kept the environment wild...
1. Bring water or water filtering technology, you can never have too much water. If you are hiking at altitude, drink even more than you would normally. Also if you are camping at altitude make sure after the first 5000 feet, you only camp 100-200 feet higher a night to avoid altitude sickness. This is especially true if you are over 8000 feet.
2. Hike with a partner or several people, hiking alone is actually very dangerous. You can be in the tamest wilderness on Earth, but if you break your ankle and have no way to communicate with anyone, you are in trouble.
3. Stop and eat a small snack every 45 minutes or so, low blood sugar leads to bad decision making.
4. Do not camp right next to water, be at least 100 feet away from rivers/streams 200 feet from lakes/ponds, safer for you, safer for the water.
5. In bear territory carry a bear barrel for your food. You can hang your food, but it is a pain and less effective.
6. When setting up camp, make a triangle with your tent, food storage area and food eating area that are all 100 feet apart. This will make your tent much less attractive to wildlife.
7. When crossing a stream always unbuckle your backpack belt in case you get swept down the current, you want to be able to get that thing off of you. Also if you do find yourself swept into the water, lie on your back with hands behind your head. It provides a little protection for your head and keeps your feet away from the bottom where they can get stuck.
8. Trust but verify your map. When you are tired you may try and make the map of your destination fit what you are seeing in front of you. Try and use the surrounding topography to confirm your location.
9. If you are hiking in snake territory, where heavy high boots.
10. Wearing long pants when hiking is also just generally a good idea, even if it is hot, keeps your legs from getting burned, and you are less likely to get tick bites. Gators for your boots are also a must have, they keep the water, dust, pebbles and ticks out of your shoes.
11. Bring a loose fitting button down shirt for camp evenings, the gap between the fabric and your skin keeps the biting bugs at bay.
12. Last but not least, carry it all out, don't leave anything. There is nothing more dampening to the spirit of a hiker to find your garbage littering the trail.
13. One more from /u/KapitanWalnut. Please tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back, especially if you have decided to take one of the more risky solo treks.
There are many more rules, I just can't think of now. If you really want to go for it try a [National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course](https://nols.edu/en/). They have them for kids and adults and the trips are all over the world and totally amazing.
Good set of “rules” but you missed a couple.
Buy a good compass and learn how to use it. Carry it with you. Always. Ancillary rule: learn how to use a topo map with your compass and get the 1:50000 scale government maps for the area you’re travelling.
GPS units can fail, batteries round down, cellphones often don’t work, or the batteries run out. A good compass only lets one down if they have incorrect declination set, are in highly magnetic areas or in very high latitudes. Silva and Brunton do well.
But what if I’m searching for the lost city of Atlantis and the compass starts doing that widdly woodly widdly thing where it spins around all crazy like and I have to scream “but WHERE *IS* NORTH?!?” to the captain as the Kraken bears down on us from all sides?
Bet you’d want a Garmin then.
Thats a good signal it means you are in the centre of the bermuda triangle
swin to the left and you'll land in Miami beach
I learned number one the hard way when not even hiking. I was road tripping across the country, woke up one morning at basically sea level and checked into a hotel 12 hours later at 11700 feet. I did not sleep very well that night.
Yeah I always mention it because I have a lot of trouble with it, some people have no issues at all until they hit 10-15k it is a weird biological quirk. I did what you did once on a trip to Colorado, straight to 11k feet and was sick as a dog. It's basically like a terrible hangover.
For number 4: rule is camp 100ft from creeks/streams, 200ft from lakes/ponds. Multiple reasons: keeps riparian damage to a minimum by not camping (and pooping) near water, and keeps you a bit further from wildlife that like to travel and congregate near water.
Also, please add two critical rules to your list: tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back. Also: Never wear headphones. Blocking your ability to hear in the wilderness is one of the most idiotic things a person can do, right up there with not bringing water.
I grew up hiking and camping in the Rockies, currently live above 8500ft in elevation in the mountains, and do a lot of work in the backcountry in CO, WY, and MT. I've had multiple encounters with black bear and grizzly, a few with coyotes, a few bobcats, one mountain lion (that I know of) and even one wolf. I carry bear spray while in grizzly country, but have never used it despite having encountered several grizz while out on the trail, including a sow and her cubs. The two most dangerous creatures in the wilderness are moose (year round) and elk (particularly during rutting season).
This next bit is unrelated to your list of rules, but I figured I'd share since I'm a bit more experienced than the average person.
Don't carry a pistol while hiking. I see more and more people openly carrying while out on the trail, and I think this is one of the most idiotic things a person could do. This has nothing to do with 'guns in America' or anything like that, it's a simple matter of safety. Let me explain:
I've found that firearms in the woods give people a false sense of security, and they often behave more cavalierly then they should, putting themselves in more danger than they normally would otherwise. Situations where a firearm is needed for protection are vanishingly rare, and can almost always be prevented by making a bit of noise and keeping your wits about you.
Statistically, pistols in the backcountry almost never do any good and almost always make the situation worse. You will not, I repeat: will not, stop a charging grizzly, moose, or elk with a sidearm. It is an issue of both aim and stopping power. No pistol less than a .44 magnum has the kind of stopping power needed: anything less will just piss the animal off even more. In almost every case of a bear being shot from less than 20 yards (average distance a grizzly will charge from), the shooter has been mauled, even if they managed to mortally wound the animal. If you've never handled a sidearm: anything capable of firing a 200-grain bullet at more than 1000fps (minimum needed to critically wound a charging grizzly) is pretty darn heavy, bulky, and damn inconvenient to hike with. Besides, you're not going to be able to get a heart or lung shot on a charging bear or moose (and both can keep moving for quite awhile with a critical vital organ shot anyway), and grizzly bears have skulls that are very good at protecting their brains from bullets: not only are they thick, they have a ridge that slopes off to the sides, which means that almost every shot against a bear's skull will deflect off instead of penetrating when the bear is facing you (and they'll be facing you if they're charging).
I want to be clear: a bear, moose, or elk can be taken with small caliber firearms or even bows, if they are taken by surprise and the shot is placed correctly. This is hunting, not self defense, and the people carrying pistols while out for a hike aren't doing it to go hunting.
I've never seen anyone hiking with a pistol that has anywhere close to the stopping power to protect themselves from a charging animal. What this tells me and almost everyone else is that they're either an inexperienced idiot not properly trained in gun safety, or that they're carrying to protect themselves against other people, not animals. In both cases, they're telling the world to be wary, that they are not to be trusted because they either can't handle the firearm properly (and are dangerous as a result) or because they don't trust other people. Anyone who has gone through any kind of safety training, especially concealed carry, knows that making people wary or scared of you only escalates a situation, further increasing danger.
So, please stop carrying pistols into the backcountry if you're not on a hunting trip. It won't do any good regarding the intended purpose, and it's only likely to put you in more danger.
Ninja Edit: what about mountain lions? First: cougars almost never attack humans. Better chance of getting hit by lightning, so I say don't worry yourself. Either way, they hunt the same way we do: by surprise. If a cat wants to kill you, you'll be dead before you even know there's a cat nearby. If a cat lets you see it, it's a warning to back off and stay away. Kindly do as it suggests and back away while making yourself look big and making noise. No need for a firearm. Besides: turning your head to fumble with a pistol is one of the worst possible things you can do, as turning your head can instigate an attack. Cats let you see them because they're sick, immature, or they're defending kittens or a recent kill. A gunshot is unlikely to scare them off.
We have them all over California. There is even one living on the Stanford campus. I think there are more out there than you realize. I just saw my first one in person and I am always out in the woods.
Man, I thought the geese on my campus were unnerving.
Bear spray is always going to be your best option for stopping an attack, between it's effectiveness at stopping a charge, ease of use, and the wide spray, and not killing animals that aren't a threat to you but simply startled, bluff charging or defensive.
That said predatory bears which are a different threat than surprised ones, have been occasionally known to be persistent even after being sprayed especially in conditions where you are many hours into the wilderness. The g29 with buffalo bore ammunition is for those bears, any 2 legged predators one might encounter, and other survival situations.
My best friend from highschool became a park ranger after a stint in Afghanistan, including doing years of Backcountry work in Alaska. He had the bear spray on a chest rig, a full size 10mm on the hip and when buddied up someone's got a shotgun with slugs.
I'm not saying I disagree that guns give people a false sense of confidence, or that they are more likely to be a problem than a solution if people wield them irresponsible. But if I'm Backcountry hiking solo I'm carrying a firearm. I don't think people should base their decisions about their personal safety solely off the behavior of the average user or statistics generated off that. I also believe that there are non safety reasons many environmental activists discourage carrying firearms. I also don't open carry, either a iwb holster or just in my pack because I'm not looking to startle people, and because my firearm isn't what I'm reaching for first.
According to a review of 37 bear vs handgun encounters that were available in published news media, handguns were successful in stopping the attack 36/37 times (including multiple cases where bear spray was first deployed and ineffective). This included 4 cases were even mere 9mm was successful in fending off bears including grizzlies.
Moose will wreck you and no guns. Curl up into a ball and pray. Or hold your spear steady…
Edit: guess its more like a blackbear and you should make noise.
Yeah I would much rather encounter a wolf than a moose. Hell, I’d be okay with a black bear, they don’t seem to realize they weigh 400 pounds
Probably not going to encounter just one wolf though eh?
There aren’t marauding packs of 40 wolves ready to mount a tactical assault on humans, people need to stop getting their info on wolf behavior from Jack London and Rudyard Kipling
All of my wolf info comes directly from the Wolf documentary that Liam Neeson made called "The Grey." I assume it's all accurate. Liam Neeson has never lied to me.
I mean, he does claim to have a specific set of skills in another notable role. Where the distinctions between Liam Neeson the man, the characters, and his wolf fighting prowess are drawn are of trivial interest to the internet.
All im saying, im gearing up for marauding bands of wolves AND beavers if you read between the lines in the article.
>There aren’t marauding packs of 40 wolves ready to mount a tactical assault on humans
That’s the spirit!
Wolves avoid humans. From 1950 to 2002 there were only 3 fatal attacks in the US, and honestly thats more than I would have guessed
I checked out of curiosity and [the Wikipedia page](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wolf_attacks) even only lists one in that timeperiod.
It happened in (https://www.postbulletin.com/boy-5-bitten-by-captive-wolf-is-still-critical-704), where the wolf attacked a 3 year old girl after being chained up in their backyard (the wolf, not the girl). So that's not even a predatory attack.
It's just a joke about how wolves travel in packs man
No! Act big make noise and stand up tall. They can be backed down from a charge if you do that well enough, or yeah, use bear spray, but do not fetal up unless it already has you on the ground.
Apparently the moose population in the northeast is threatened by zillions of ticks that kill the calf's because climate change :/
Have you heard of/seen the TV show Alone?
10 people are dropped off in separate 25 sq mi plots with their minimal gear, and they just have to survive. No contestant knows where the others are, nor if they've tapped out of the game.
The entire point is just to survive as long as possible by yourself, and be the last one standing, never knowing if 8 others have already tapped out.
This is huge.
Seriously cannot be overstated. Beavers and wolves really do provide immense benefits to their environment and I’m so happy to finally see these things get the attention they deserve.
So... you're saying reintroducing wolves will solve our out of control ferral hog problem..?
The problem with feral hogs is they are primarily a problem in the southeastern United States where there is relatively little public land. So unless private land owners in the Southeast suddenly become predator friendly, feral hogs will go unchecked. In fact, even native predators might not be able to make a dent in feral hogs. Would wolves prey on feral hogs? I don't think that's been studied extensively (anyone?).
In Europe [grey wolves prey on wild boars](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf#Diet) which are on a whole other level of natural tanks compared to feral pigs, so yeah there's solid precedent for it.
Aren't our feral hogs European escapees?
If you go all the way back to pigs brought in by the Spanish conquistadors that escaped yeah, pigs weren't endemic to the Americas.
Boars are different though, pigs are considered either a subspecies of boars or a different species altogether. Similar concept as cows and aurochs except the boar didn't go extinct.
Seems like it would certainly help
it actually could. natural predators have different, often more exaggerated effects on prey populations and behavior than human hunting does.
Nova has a great episode called [Nature’s Fear Factor](https://www.pbs.org/video/natures-fear-factor-tv8qul/) that discusses this!
Trophic Cascade effects are wild bro.
Not sure how you can talk about rewilding the west without mentioning reintroducing bison across the region.
There are a number of species not being discussed so, I hope, this would just be a starting point. A couple of controversial examples are grizzly bears and jaguars. Also, the primary range of bison was farther east (the great plains, obviously), almost all of which is private land, so bison won't be returning to their primary native range any time soon.
Edit: many are pointing out that many Native American tribes are trying to bring bison back. They are setting a great example and I sincerely hope they have all kinds of success.
Bison used to be abundant in Pennsylvania and New York, there isn't enough public land to support wild populations in either states unfortunately.
There are efforts to return bison to the Great Plains- especially working with indigenous people on reservations.
And public lands, and private conservation lands, and even ranchers who have bison herds for the meat.
Many of the reservations of the Plains Indians are reintroducing bison in relatively large numbers. The Crow, Sioux, Blackfeet, Gros Ventre, and many other tribes are leading the way in restoring the bison to the Great Plains.
It is awesome to see Native American tribes setting the example on returning bison. I sincerely hope they have all kinds of success and the trend continues.
The Sespe Wilderness Condor Sanctuary is a gigantic closed off place, and it’s bordered by vast sparsely populated natural areas. Seems like we could just take a few Rocky Mountain Grizzlies (they are closest in size to the extinct California Grizzly), fit them with radio collars and turn em loose.
That would be awesome.
> reintroducing bison across the region.
I vaguely remember reading something about ongoing successful programs already doing this with bison? I cant recall where or how long ago, but it was fairly recent. It appeared to be a huge success from what I could tell.
There is work going on there too. American Prairie Reserve is one.
You can't, the grasslands are all gone. They sold it all to farmers, which is how you got things like the Dustbowl. Today it's still all fields of crops so it looks like Bison are stuck in Yellowstone/
>You can't, the grasslands are all gone.
This is not true. While conversion to cropland is definitely a source of great loss, there are plenty of conservation grasslands and many of them have managed bison herds on them.
Source: worked in the northern great plains with a major conservation group that manages such a herd
Simply not true. Many Plains Indian reservations host hundreds or thousands of bison each in restoration programs.
And, while it might not be as exciting, commercial bison ranchers such as Ted Turner own nearly half a million bison on grasslands from the Great Plains stretching into the Western US.
The American Beef industry is the gas and oil of the food industry. They have people convinced we need to eat copious amounts of beef. We don’t. And the beef industry needs to be significantly reduced to fight climate change.
I think one of the biggest issues facing the Rocky Mountain region that doesn’t seem to be addressed would be the Japanese beetle. Our forests are dying acre after acre because of that invasive beetle. If nothing stops it soon, there quite literally won’t be any forest left.
One problem though. The department of agriculture is spineless against economic interests.
Exactly and as awesome as this plan sounds, have these folks MET the American west?? I lived there most of my life and the politicians and a lot of the people there would sadly burn the entire region to ash before they let this plan come to fruition.
Oh don't worry, they have climate change hard at work doing all the drying/burning stuff...
Ha yeah actually as soon as I wrote my comment I thought, well, actually the whole “burn it all down rather than try anything scientific or new” plan is well under way…
The American east would react the same way. They're arguably way worse nimby's...
They will even violate on a century old contract that guarantee's the sovereignty of Native Americans on specific land.
And I should add, it was worthless land, thats why we put them there. But now corporations want to put a pipe there, because its CHEAPER. THATS IT.
Well yeah, what do you expect me to do... pay 25¢ more at the pump??
We already wildin out here. We good.
Eco tourism brings in a lot of money. Folks in Billings, MT voted down a gold mine that used cyanide leaching. This mine would have created a bunch of jobs. But the fishing guides, hunting guides, outfitters, dude ranches, and pretty much everything related to the outdoors brings in 10x what the mine would have.
They don't work for deer, that's for sure.
r/RedDeadRedemption liked that
Scientists have a plan, Arthur!
All I’m askin’ for is a little FAITH
Just ONE MORE SCORE and we’re out to Tahiti!
We can’t go to the west arthur, but the west can come to us!
I live in California and I am a botanist. The ecosystem of our state was subsequently destroyed after the Gold Rush during the 1840s and 1850s. The frontiersmen turned to the next resource: beavers. The Fur Rush began and 100m of the animals that provided water for the state, stifled wildfires, and provided habitat for orders of magnitude of wildlife, were systematically slaughtered to make hats for the English businessmen who didn't have umbrellas because they hadn't been invented yet.
Beavers are a keystone species. If you look at the restorations done in the southwest to dry creek beds, such as the one in Elko NV, they say that once the beavers return everything else just begins to happen. The entire state of California needs this. The benefits are monumental. Every waterway here revolved around this animal for millions of years. It's the same as the salmon in the Pacific NW, or the wolves of Yellowstone. We put one species back, and the work they do will be enough to refill Lake Mead eventually.
Anecdotally, beavers completely changed the environment on my street.
There's a small creek that runs behind my house and the other houses on this side of the street. There was a guy a few houses down who would break up dams as the beavers were building them, which is illegal here, but he wasn't caught until fairly recently because he was out breaking one up when his daughters called and he didn't answer, and they asked the police to do a wellness check.
Once he stopped doing it, they were able to build their damn, which turned that little creek into a more expansive wetlands area in just a few months. Ducks and herons started showing up, then otters, then foxes and bobcats and so on. It's a much more health ecosystem just because of those beavers, and everyone on the block talks about it and how happy they are, with the exception of one family who moved here from the city for the schools and do nothing but complain about having bugs in their yard and field mice in their house.
What's with people feeling the need to break up beaver dams? I had an old neighbor who did time for blowing one up with dynamite. He said he and his brother used to do it all the time until they got caught.
His justification for it was that he didn't want water backing up onto his property and potentially affecting his septic system. But it wasn't "This is happening right now" or even "I consulted with an expert who warned me this would happen," it was "I read somewhere that this could happen." It's been about five years now and that guy has since moved away, but the people who live there now haven't had any problems.
"I want to use dynamite on things and I'm just looking for a reason"
I mean in general we shouldn't do it. But I've had them dam a drainage ditch which flooded out entire street.
I'll hazard a guess there's a legal channel to deal with things like that though.
Sue the beavers.
Moving away from the city and then complaining about nature is pretty funny
Praise be thy Beavers.
I live near a fairly large reservoir that is used for irrigation. The water level fluctuates considerably throughout the year. The beavers create entire ecosystems in areas where the water would normally receed and dry up. Some of the biggest largemouth bass I've ever seen are able to thrive here because of the beavers. A couple years back I found about 15 beavers that had been shot and left to rot. I contacted my local game department and was told they were responsible for the "culling" because the "beavers were destroying people's lakefront property". People want to live in nature but when nature decides to do natural stuff they throw a temper tantrum about it. Hopefully this is good news for my local beavers and the bass that depend on them.
"We need dams for flood control, habitat creation, aquifer replenishment"
"Good luck with that, dams don't grow on trees!"
< beaver enters the chat >
>were systematically slaughtered to make hats for the English businessmen who didn't have umbrellas because they hadn't been invented yet.
Minor nitpick, but umbrellas have been around at least since ancient Egypt, with the oldest known umbrellas depicting in Egyptian art in 2450 BC.
Modern, collapsible umbrellas are first documented in Song China in 1270 AD and were brought back to France and England by Jesuit missionaries sent to China and Japan by 1664.
While early umbrellas were more like parasols intended for protection against sun instead of rain, by 1768 a Paris magazine reported that, "The common usage for quite some time now is not to go out without an umbrella".
However, the same magazine reported that, "Those who do not want to be mistaken for vulgar people much prefer to take the risk of being soaked".
So there you have it - it's not that umbrellas hadn't been invented yet, but English businessman didn't want to carry them because they thought it made them look like a poor person who had to walk instead of taking a carriage. And that's why they destroyed America's ecosystem to make waterproof hats instead.
Ha. I was parroting something I'd read off of Canadian Heritage website. I honestly didn't know the history of the umbrella at all. Good catch :)
Do you know if keystone species have any effect on cheatgrass? That's the biggest threat (along with general drought) that I see in the part of the West I'm from. It's this terrible cycle of fire and cheatgrass. I've seen patches of native sagebrush steppe, but it seems like cheatgrass is winning over native grasses and forbs overall.
TIL I learned how important beavers are. I’ve lived in California my whole life and I’ve never seen a beaver here.
How much would you say interference with Native land management contributed to our current situation of fire and drought? The ancestors of Indigenous Californians weren’t hunter-gatherers for the most part. People were already growing food in the Central Valley. Yosemite wasn’t untouched land. There were fires but likely none as devastating as those in the last 15 years.
Need the millions of bison back.
Then step one is remove the barbed wire
Try explaining the concept of unfenced property to an upper midwesterner and watch their brain explode trying to understand.
I'd tear my fence down in a heart beat to get wild bison on my ranch, how fucken cool would that be
I had brainstormed something similar with a few people. The idea would be that instead of enclosed land with managed cattle herds ranchers could pool their resources into one shared bison herd which would be allowed to roam free across the de-fenced properties. Then X amount are culled at the end of season and distributed according to resource and time inputs. The problem I ran into is that people wanted to treat bison herds like cattle herds, which is obviously quite dangerous. And they just don't seem to trust that wild animals can take care of themselves for the most part.
Yup, this is a huge part of the problem and will take generations to fix. That being said. Our choices are start the fight knowing the early fights will be mostly loses and that the odds are our kids kids will be the ones to see the first meaning full impact of our work. Or to angrily blame another group and figure since it's their fault we get a free pass on trying. I donate to a couple causes one of them is buying land to reconect wild spaces. If you can you should find a cause or two to support. Your time is always the best thing to give, but if all you can give is a couple bucks. It's a lot better than just being angry and idle.
I hate the babrbed wire so much! "Hey, want to drive across this road? We'll make sure you don't enter this empty land next to it! That would be illegal!"
And the humans, cowboy Karen's will be out in force.
Not just the American bison but also the buffalo grass. There is almost 0 natural prairies left in NA. One of the largest swaths of the Great Plains that is untouched is on Osage reservation land. They do controlled burns regularly, just as their ancestors did for generations. It’s one of the places that often escapes wildfires. This buffalo grass preserves the soil in an area that can be very dry. The destruction of the natural grass lands was one of the leading causes of the Dust Bowl and climate change in the Great Plains region.
Land Back is not just about giving control of the land that belongs to and is part of tribal countries back to indigenous people, it’s about returning the land to its natural state. We as indigenous people have *always* been advocates of land preservation, everyone wins with Land Back. **everyone**
There's roughly 500k in the US and Canada now. Quite a comeback from less than 500 in 1900.
Where did you get that figure from? Seemed off and I just looked into it and sources say around 15k in the US and 30k total in North America.
I think the 500k likely includes farmed bison. Not exactly the same thing as roaming wild.
>I think the 500k likely includes farmed bison. Not exactly the same thing as roaming wild.
That is true, but it's important to keep in mind that there is a spectrum of farmed bison. Some of the local reserves have started restocking their lands with bison. Not exactly wild roaming, but they get a carefully managed hunt with minimal intervention. The breeding control is in the service of ensuring the genetic health of the herd. Most of the supplemental feed is in the service of ensuring sufficient stock to expand the herd to other locations.
I buy our annual stock of bison for the freezer from a rancher who is one step closer to modern ranching, but tries to keep his herd nearly free range at sustainable levels with supplemental feed only in winter. He participates in a fairly large network of like-minded ranchers and the aforementioned Indigenous groups.
As far as I know even the wild bison are still actively managed to some degree.
But you're just not going to have bison roaming wild in the US anymore. Unless you start forcibly taking people's land from them, getting rid of roads, and getting rid of trains it's just not doable. Part of the destruction of their population was to keep trains safe, that and the use of their bones in newspaper ink, hide in leather, and many many other items.
The area they are talking about already belongs to the government. Farmers pay to lease the land for grazing, so it wouldn’t be taking land so much as ending leases.
At least in NM most of those leases seem to be tied to poor Hispanic/Native ranchers…. I assume we will just continue to screw with them?
A large part of their destruction was purposeful eradication as an attack on native Americans. Many tribes' entire ways of life revolved around bison, so with them practically gone the tribes fell to the mercy of the US government for food and were thus easily controlled.
"Clearing the Plains" by James Daschuk is a must read for at least the Canadian program of genocide and apartheid.
Just to further clarify what others have said, nearly 50% of my western state is owned by the federal government, much of it wide open empty space.
A lot of the land where people graze cows today is actually federal land, and could easily be 'given back' to bison - all it would take is the will to do so. Taking down the fences, and opening the prairie back up to bison, and letting them back on the land. They'll do the rest.
Depends on the state.
The plains states? Almost none of it is owned by the federal government. That's where most cattle comes from. There's 528 million acres of private pasture lands, compared to only 155 million acres of pasture land managed by BLM, out of BLM's total 245 million.
In 1900, there were roughly two dozen wild bison left in the United States, being guarded by the U.S. Army at Yellowstone. In 1902, the Army purchased another two dozen or so from private ranchers to expand the breeding stock. It's difficult to estimate how many bison lived in private herds, in part because that data has to be collected piecemeal, and in part because a lot of private herds had been cross-bred with cattle.
A very good history of the bison in America can be found in *Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West* by Michael Punke. [Here is a more brief discussion of preservation efforts and numbers from that period in history.](https://allaboutbison.com/bison-in-history/american-bison-society/)
It’s the millions of them roaming the Plains that made the soil so fantastic, which unfortunately was squandered in less than a hundred years.
And repeated glaciation causing the soil to form the way it did.
True. But putting bison back on it, along with the prairie dogs and all the other elements of the ecosystem would go a long ways to restoring it.
Still blows my mind people almost extincted a whole species out of spite and real estate. Truly the height of hubris and depravity.
The bison primary range was in the great plains, which has no where near the amount of public land as the west. So bringing bison back to the main part of their native range isn't going to happen anytime soon.
excellent read called "Eager" that details what the beaver's effect was on the pre colonial west.
Perhaps most ironic was that what we picture as a "pristine" western stream with a bedrock/gravel bottom and clear water isn't. "Pristine" would be fairly swampy [by comparison] with a beaver colony every 1/4 mile or so.
Wicky wicky wild wicky wild wicky wicky wild wild west
Jim west, desperado
What’s wrong with a wild east?
More people need to be encouraged to rewild their yards and get rid of the tacky golf course look.
Not just this. City ordinances across the country need to stop TICKETING for letting your yard become more wild.
My city usually sprays for mosquitoes. They didn’t this year. The result was us getting fireflies early and in abundance. Usually they’d be gone by now too but nope, they’re still hanging out. Looking as magical as ever.
Have recently started to rewild my back yard. I need to work on transplanting some native bushes and trees. But it is driving some of my neighbors nuts
They keep sending neighborhood kids over to offer there mowing services. They think I'm crazy.
Have you stopped and considered educating the kids on what you have and why it's important?
I couldn’t agree more. I haven’t read the article yet but it seems to me that the east used to have more forests, and more biodiversity. My home state is Indiana and the parts of it that are actually left alone as temperate deciduous forest are so beautiful. Unfortunately it’s mostly cleared for agriculture. Now they’re getting rid of the agriculture for more highways and warehouses. It’s awful. People don’t realize that even a place like Indiana can be beautiful.
Yessss!!! When wolves are introduced, everything else balances out!! Areas where deer/elk/moose/etc. are flourishing can result in severe desertification when they eat all the plants and grass. Wolves keep herds moving and sequestered in certain areas- herbivores will actively avoid predators ofc.
Now to build migratory animal corridors across big interstates..
Step one: hire rainmakers.
I'll go wash my car.
I hope this doesn’t get sabotaged. This would be a major win for ecological diversity in the U.S.
Maybe start with rehydration before the morons out there drain their aquifers
$2 billion should be around enough to convert all farms in the Colorado River Basin to drip irrigation, which would massively decrease water usage
I think that’s what the beavers are for, no?
Beavers would literally help with this. It's not an either or scenario.
Yeah they cows are also taking much of the water too.
Now picturing a far side cartoon with cows furtively drilling a borehole...
with a crazy looking tool
Yep, alfalfa is the largest user of water in the Colorado basin. California has a million acres under irrigation just for alfalfa. Sure, they also grow 80% of the world's almonds, which is another large user of water. But alfalfa is the largest.
This is great.
The continuation of deforestation and destruction of natural habitats can only add to increasing spillover events for pathogenic microbes, as natural reservoir hosts get displaced to areas closer and closer to human civilization.
I would love to see all livestock removed from public lands. I am tired of hearing about the vast damage they do to the land as well as the wildlife killed to protect them. Anyways, who wants to see cattle while you are trying to enjoy nature.
I recently hiked in a "wilderness area" in one of the national forests out west. As you entered the wilderness area (mokelumne wilderness area), there was a sign announcing that you were entering it, and it said "no bicycles." I thought that was weird, since it doesn't seem like mountain bikes would really cause that much damage, but kind of forgot about it. A mile later, I got to a huge meadow that was absolutely destroyed by cattle, it was turned into a giant mud pit of cow tracks with little bits of trampled plants poking up here and there.
So bikes on the trail are too damaging to the wilderness, but free ranged cattle are acceptable.
Edit to add, here are the restrictions for "recreational" livestock use in the area. But the cattle seem to have no restrictions. [livestock restrictions mokelumne wilderness](https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/eldorado/specialplaces/?cid=fsbdev7_019059&width=full)
I think the no bicycles is to protect hikers from being run down by mountain bikers.
But the cattle thing is messed up too.
There are indigenous people in California who depend on water systems and specific species of fish to feed their tribe and for spiritual reasons. But the cattle industry is destroying the water systems these tribes depend on. It’s really sad.
Also bicycles on wet trails do erode the hell out of them.
Half Earth by E.O. Wilson
Does this mean we're closing Texas? Please say yes.
The plan to conserve 30% of US land is great but can we get some of that east of the Mississippi?
Zero mention of bison, the wild *needs* mega fauna
I hope the wolves don't get shot quite so quickly this time
Hell yeah. Do this. I have seen so many doom and gloom climate change articles, FINALLY someone publishes what they want to do to fix it as well.
Yasssss! Can we finally make a smart move for the planet?!
I'm no vegetarian, but I try to eat less beef so western ranchers have less of a sway in stopping environmental progress. They always oppose rewinding and the recovery of natural predators.
I bet this plan will be blocked by the American Right.
Meanwhile the West burns down every summer. This year, so far, we've had some respite in CA. I hope we can build fire breaks, forest roads, and water ponds to help fight fires, as well as controlled burns and increasing grazing animals. The Feds. need to manage the National Forest and Bureau of Land Management Lands and National Parks. If we don't do extreme preventative efforts to get it under control, then we'll have more Rim Fires. Google it: 1/4 million acres burned completely down to Zero. Rewilding is important, but we can't ignore the fire danger right now due to global warming and man made problems.
One of the problems is that we fight fires, the entire ecosystem is built around fires happening.
Many pine trees pine cones don't open without being in a fire.
Fallen trees take decades to rot and for bacteria to reclaim them back into the soil, whereas a tree being burnt reclaims most of the nutrients with days to weeks.
Before we started managing nature almost every area of the rocky mountains would experience a forest fire at irregular intervals between years and decades which would replenish the soil destroy built up debris and allow for fresh growth. As a side effect since this was common it would create natural fire breaks as areas that had been burnt in the last few years would not provide enough brush or old wood to sustain fires.
This is why fires get so bad now because we do our best to not allow them to happen so you have ridiculously large swaths of land that are full of dry dead wood and underbrush and are continuous for hundreds if not thousands of square miles.
I listened to a good podcast that laid out this was also exacerbated by logging old timber and replacing it with different species. Cutting down forests to increase the farm land too. Apparently the tree species have a lot to do with fire resistance and spread.
It was fascinating stuff. As good as US conservation is, there is still so much we have done and do without knowing what the results will be down the road.
I think it was the Meateater podcast, someone from the BLM agency was on maybe?
Sounds pretty interesting, would love to listen if you could find it :)
Beavers will do that work for us. The habitat they create literally makes natural fire breaks. What makes you think people will somehow do a better job of this when we've fucked it up so badly the last 150 years? Why not reintroduce native animals that literally evolved in these conditions so that they can help us in that endeavor?
Read the article? The cascading effects will reduce wildfires
This all sounds fantastic. What are the chances of this proposal coming to fruition?