It’s ironic in so many ways; we live in a time where the earth as we know it is literally crying out in pain. The pain which comes from a human race at war with nature, a place that once was such a part of people’s lives is now something that stands in the way of profits, lifestyles beyond measure, and helps to define a world lacking in love and in need of therapy. For nature is perhaps our best reflection of love on earth.
It is not that it cannot be cruel or unforgiving; it is that in its purest form, it perfectly reflects harmony, life, evolution and beauty. Nothing synthesizes wild nature more than the wolf. It is the perdurable life force which reveals that nature is alive!
Today we confront not just ranchers, who since their first steps in the new world have killed, trapped and destroyed any sense of wildness they could find, but also the truly sick and phlegmatic response of so many who call themselves “conservationists”. You see, at a time when wild nature is literally screaming for help, we have created a corporate world of conservation. In such a structure, which I have lived in but was never welcome, the smartest person in the room, is the one most willing to compromise. The one that name drops politicians, the one with advanced degrees, who has spent no more than four days in wild nature at a time, is the true master.
The food chain of conservation works this way. Start with a small conservation group, get paid next to nothing, but continue to make friends with those working with larger groups-Defenders of Wildlife, NRDC, the Wilderness Society, and the Sierra Club, etc. Move to one of the towns where such people live-Durango, Bozeman, Denver, Seattle, Santa Fe and Washington; this ironically is where you will find many of the Foundations.
In such an environment, moving up means being a good foot soldier, handle conference calls, organize meetings, stay on scripted quotes in the press, never show emotion and always be willing to compromise. That makes you professional. Before you know it, you are working either for a foundation or a major national conservation group and now you are living in a great town and are be paid well.
I mention all of this to put into perspective what we are facing in trying to protect wolves. Major national conservation groups, those with operating budgets in the millions of dollars per year are killing efforts to protect wolves and the reason is simple: they are compromising away that simple thing called nature so that they can live well, continue to grow and keep earning a serious paycheck. It also requires that issues like the wolf continue to be a fundraising bonanza for said groups. It also means staying close with politicians, compromising, so that they remain relevant. While this is true to some extent, it also encourages the backroom deals that are killing wild nature.
About seven years ago I spoke at length with a foundation located in the Northwest about bringing conservationists together to work on gaining a solid and unified plan for protecting wolves. The meeting occurred in Albuquerque. At the meeting several of us spoke at length about taking on the ranching community and fighting for all wolves. Many of us in the meeting were confronted by lots of scientific jargon, the idea of compromise and within two months I was removed from the very group I pushed to begin. Why? Because really saving wolves, fighting to end trapping and sport killing is perceived as radical, dangerous to the structured plan and because several key national groups-Defenders and others did not want anyone but them to lead the charge on wolves.
So today, we are witnessing a slaughter in the north: with governors and Game and Fish departments in lock-step to kill. We have groups like Defenders on record supporting wolf killing for sport, while they continue to work directly with ranchers and waste time and money with an effort that is doomed to failure.
All of this time, these so-called conservation groups are not only bringing in money from fundraising and bequests, but from major foundations that cannot see beyond the word compromise. So it becomes a self-perpetuating prophecy.
The idea that we can make “incremental change” while helpful, is a losing proposition. US Fish and Wildlife Service is happy to move slowly towards incremental change, but always by opening the door to more killing and less restriction. Some argue that the myriad of approaches is simply the best solution for it allows for voices on many fronts; but such a diversity of voices is choked by a pointed solidarity amongst the livestock industry.
The earth is crying, while wild nature is collapsing. Yet at the very time when the urgency could not be greater, we have people committed to a milk toast approach to protection. It’s time that the conservation world is turned upside down! It begins with passion, conviction and a determination to create real change and stop compromising. I may despise republican Ted Cruz of Texas, but in a New Yorker article he said it well about the realities of the Republican Party when he said people tell him , “You crazy republicans have to give up on what you believe and become more like democrats,” Cruz responded “And I would note, every time Republicans do that we lose.” That says it all about the state of the conservation movement.
So how do we move forward?
It starts with a simple commitment that we agree upon. No wolf should be killed-period. Now some will say that will never fly, perhaps. But you do not begin the debate by compromising. That is not the seed for real passion on the issue.
Wolves should be allowed to recover all lands they once occupied.
Trapping must be banned-period. Sport hunting for predators must end.
Ranchers must be forced, as part of their current leases to sign a no kill clause related to predators or face the loss of the lease.
They should face a phasing in of a methane tax, which would go towards rangeland restoration.
Buyouts of leases should be encouraged and supported with federal earmarks.
We must make our intentions clear: Livestock grazing on public lands must be phased out in X amount of years.
We have watched the coal industry follow the steel industry, auto manufacturers, follow tobacco farmers- the list is endless and there comes a time when the economy forces change in the work world. Ranchers for far too long have lived on the dole and created a disaster of the public lands in the West. They have not been responsible, but rather greedy. It will take several generations of work in restoration of lands, streams and riparian areas etc. The very people, who destroyed it, should be employed to heal it.
Game and Fish Departments must be overhauled. It begins by a constant pressure on ethics and ways to create a wall between the livestock industry and the Departments. These departments are nothing less than killing machines that work for livestock and outfitters, to the demise of predators. They must be forced to base decisions on science, not lobbying.
We must create a vision for people to gravitate to, not a science filled glossary. We have a symbol in the wolf that is hard to not strike a cord and a story of revival, family and health of the land that is simply a script any Hollywood producer would love.
We must be tough and willing to speak out and demand so much more from the likes of Jon Tester or Butch Otter- in other words all elected officials. We are the majority, yet we cower and convince ourselves that compromise is the only solution.
Our conscience tells us otherwise.
Stop trying to organize rural communities and ranchers, get the voice and muscle of urban communities launched and loud. The opposition has made sure any support in these communities we garner, are made pariahs.
It is essential that small conservation groups, ones that are fighting the battle in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, the list goes on, form a coalition, or perhaps a CO-OP that allows us to push together for grants from foundations and to share our voice in unison. The voice of thirty organizations will soon drown out the tired voice of two or three major national groups blessed with so-called 'reason.'
Foundations must also feel the heat. They are not accustomed to scrutiny, but they can be influenced by collective voices demanding not compromise, but rather Bold Action to save our wolves.
This will require tough stands and vigilance, protests and far more than letter writing. We must educate the public, not pacify them.
Some say you cannot fight the livestock industry without losing elected officials and others. I do not like the term Tea Party and find them a horrible chapter in our country. However, the conservation community of today needs a serious wake up call and it’s important that those of us that put wild nature first band together and stop using the term conservationist, for it perfectly reflects the image of compromise. Instead we must become the Nature First wing of the environmental movement!
You can be strong, without being radical; you can earn respect without compromise. You can make change with conviction, but you cannot succeed without heart.
So many of us want to see a West that is thriving, free of things like oil and fossil fuels, rivers without dams, land void of fence. Places where bears and bison, cities and rural communities can co-exist and share in the bounty of clean water and clear skies. We can begin to see that horizon, but it will require a tough fight, one that makes clear, public lands belong to all Americans, not a group of self-righteous individuals and many who hate all that is the commons we share. The fight over wolves represents more than wolves: it’s about the fate of the land and the bounty that once was the promise of America.
The reality is we have nothing to lose, for we have already lost so much. This is not about becoming violent; it is about stopping the violence.
For far too long a wall of ignorance has blocked the common sense of healing the land and making diversity in nature a priority. We are nothing without our land; we are nothing without lands filled with wildlife. Wild nature is the tonic for a sick world and there should be no shame in fighting for its survival.
We have the will; the map will be created by more ideas and thought. Our mission is clear: we cannot continue to try a piecemeal approach or lose our soul. We must be strong and understand the importance of our collective wisdom. Wolves need us, the earth needs us. We cannot yield to madness, but can we create a path to righteousness.
Live long and prosper mother earth and your child the wolf!
We are here to help!
by Stephen Capra
This past week the airwaves have been filled with the community of Ferguson, Missouri boiling for justice and relief from a police force that targeted those of a particular skin color, who used tactics of fear and intimidation to control that sector of the population with an iron grip. What occurred in Ferguson is not unique; it is a part of our history of racism and expectations when the world is viewed in black and white. I mention this because I have known another form of racism my whole life, of ignorance and the sense of entitlement that only one can feel as it relates not to humans, but to wildlife. Those who wield the traps, who demand protection and who allow hanging as part of their clan are known as ranchers and their actions and sense of entitlement are every bit as disgraceful as what we see in communities across our nation at the hands of police forces that have come to resemble armies rather than protectors of the community.
In the West for more than 200 years, ranchers have killed with immunity from justice or void of consciousness. They have bullied and cajoled their way with Senators, Governors and a host of rural leaders that somehow see them as important. Like so many in Ferguson who are tired of the rhetoric and want to see real change, real action, they took to the streets to say we will not take it anymore. Their voices are producing change and making many uneasy.
So too does that feeling grip us all, as it relates to wolves. For more than 200 years we have been witness to a slaughter. Despite solid science, and a majority of the population supportive of their protection and expansion, the killing continues. In that time so much magic has been left to rot on our plains and in our mountains, from grizzly to bison, too wolves. Only now the killers post their images with glee on Facebook or now have television shows to glorify their utter disregard for life, for wildness. They are fools, ignorant to the core, devoid of emotion and they enrage a large segment of us that love wolves, love true wilderness, and frankly the time has come to say WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
The slow pace of recovery, the empty promises of Federal and State agencies and the constant misinformation broadcast by the ranching community, show little progress but immense suffering. But it goes deeper than that, it involves, as we have said so many times, the unethical behavior of the Game and Fish Departments Commissions across the West. Who cuddle the livestock industry, allowing them game tags for profit, get wined and dined on their ranches in a clear quid pro quo, which goes beyond the wolf slaughter and allows them clout on all decisions related to predators and take numbers for wildlife.
It’s not just a disgrace; it is immoral and frankly illegal. Rules governing Game and Fish Commissioners must be reformed at once and the actions must be as dramatic as possible.
We have our own version of Attorney General, we call her Sally Jewel, and she is the Secretary of Interior. She should come to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and New Mexico and tell ranchers to their face that their days of controlling the lands owned by all Americans are over. She should insist on ranchers being forced, as part of their leases to sign a Covenant, which clearly states they cannot kill wolves or other predators or lose their lease.
At Bold Visions Conservation, we have said from the start this is not an issue of science, or regulation, it is simply an issue of morality. Wolves are being slaughtered, while we sit and wait for the conservation community to move forward. The question is why? So they can continue to fund raise, continue to be vanilla, and try in a generation or two to find a solution?
I have thought long and hard about who Bold Visions Conservation is as an organization. I guess we do not fit into the nice, clean and safe world of conservation. We are fighters in spirit, passionate at heart and determined to demand change now. So that makes us pariahs to some, but we believe more people must be angry, should demand more, for our future is at stake.
So we see ourselves as a form of Wild Justice or Wild Warriors, we do not sue or go to court, but we communicate in the most open of ways, we feel your frustration and share your love of both wilderness and wildlife. In looking at what is occurring with wolves, from trapping, to sport killing, to ranchers’ domination over our Western lands, we see a need for real change that must occur starting now. Senators should stop fawning over a group of angry men in large hats and boots that refuse to allow our public lands, like our society, to evolve.
We should demand far more of elected officials and publicly scorn them if they continue to yield to ignorance and greed. The public must continue to be educated, but at a certain point we must find our Ferguson moment. That point where America comes to understand the injustice that has occurred for far too long right in front of us.
Wolves belong in the West, not in some arcane zone or sections, but across every acre. For the Mexican wolves that remain stuck in cages, or in small confines, their days are spent slowly going insane, for they are born to be wild.
Courage is not about conformity, it is about leadership and forcing change. I never believed in discrimination, never tolerated it. We understand this in a human dimension, but now we must push this boundary to include animal species. They are our greatest gift in life, and we cannot sit ideally by as ignorance kills and destroys them and the lands that give them life.
The time has come to remove ranchers from the American West; they are quite simply bad karma. They are taking money from the government, while hating the government. They want to control that which they do not own, and their so-called stewardship, will take generations to heal.
Ferguson has opened some eyes this past week, sadly the result of a tragedy. How much more tragedy must we endure in our efforts to rewild the West?
We believe far more in the rights of the wolf, than we do the ranching community, which will never be willing to compromise. Justice comes to those who fight, and fight we will. We are burning in our hearts for the cry of the wolf and we will not accept the slow path which allows so much suffering. Certainly not to a group, that has displayed for generations, a heartless view of all that is wild.
by Stephen Capra
Last Wednesday I spent most of the day and night at the latest wolf hearing put on by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It was by all accounts a resounding victory for those who want wolves in the wild. It was also a vivid reminder of those who will stop at nothing to end wolf recovery. It’s a sobering reminder that we are simply one republican President from ending recovery as we know it.
Some have tried to make me believe that ranchers are scared; their way of life is fading, so show some compassion. Sorry, that flies in the face of the war this group has waged on the land and the West for more than 200 years. From their early settlement they have killed Native American and wildlife alike to crave out their personal fiefdom on our public lands and the time has come for them to exit, forever.
Public lands grazing has never made much economic sense, but in the last twenty years with climate change in full swing, drought becoming more the norm than the exception, the handwriting is on the wall. Yet, despite the fact that this group of welfare recipients continues to fight all change, and refuses to share the very lands they enjoy subsidies to lease, they continue their mordant attacks on wildlife. It seems that they need something to blame for their unwillingness to change and evolve like the rest of society.
In the north, they control their Senators and Governors, and that means grizzly bears are shot, wolves are being slaughtered, and species like wolverines get no endangered species protection, despite the science that clearly shows how climate change is impacting them. Here in New Mexico, the Mexican wolf is the focal point of “poor me” gang that somehow mistakenly believes they own those public lands which they simply lease. What’s wrong is unlike apartment dwellers or people in given communities they refuse to accept the covenant that says Public Lands belong to all Americans and all wildlife.
If they sign a lease from the BLM or Forest Service its time that they sign such a covenant and risk losing said lease if they kill predators. Our public lands and waterways have been compromised by their lack of management, far from being “Good Stewards” they have allowed the destruction of our Western lands and turned hiking trails into dung heaps, all so they can profit.
In recent years they have become embolden with the idea that local governments can tell the federal government NO. Reckless acts like those of Cliven Bundy, have only made them feel more anti-American and more powerful. Their tea party inspired rants and complete lack of science, makes their arguments asinine and hollow. They use intimidation to create fear in rural communities and if a land owner wants their land to be used as a sanctuary for wildlife, such a person is ridiculed and mistreated.
Watching the slaughter of such a beautiful and important animal such as the wolf is beyond heartbreaking and for what? So this group of entitled ranchers can graze cattle and profit. What truly has more value in the West? The answer is wolves and grizzly bears in the wild. It’s the value of restored lands and waterways in a time of global climate change. It’s also about the maturing of a society that once did not allow African-Americans to vote. We are moving to a new American, its black, its brown, it no longer looks like America of fifty years ago, nor should our public lands!
Ranchers have shown an arrogant disregard for the fate of species, they trap, shoot and poison at the leisure. They have pressured the government to create institutions like Animal Services to kill even more wildlife. They control state-based Game and Fish Departments who are only too willing to aid in the slaughter. Many a fence post boasts the carcass of a coyote or a wolf. Frankly, many of us have had enough, more than enough.
The time has come for a serious change. It begins first and foremost with the conservation community. We cannot progress on ten separate strategies, nor can wolves be the endless fodder for fundraising. Instead, we must come together and agree on an aggressive plan to end grazing on public lands once and for all.
Bills should include funding for retraining of ranchers, but given the fact that the government has cut so many social welfare programs to those in need, why do we continue to allow the destruction of species and lands, so a handful can be given endless subsidies. In fact, these ranchers could become the front line in a massive restoration project!
Bills should also be introduced to attach Climate Change fees for methane release on public lands, as a means of beginning to represent the true price of grazing.
Most important, we must end the fantasy that ranchers will work with us and accept wolves. It ignores history and man’s strong beliefs about race, society and integration. Many will say this is very callous approach. My response is that we have been far too timid, for far too long. We are watching a slaughter of wolves and it’s time for an aggressive rescue and change in thinking.
I have had the joy of seeing wolves in the wild on many occasions, I have watched them play and wrestle with a grizzly and run in packs filled with energy, wonderment and joy. I have also seen the cold steel trap and its barbarous results. It is frankly heartbreaking and enraging.
Today a new plan for Mexican wolves was put on the table, the US Fish and Wildlife’s science was vintage 1960’s and we sit and wait while more wolves stay in cages, and more ranchers complain about going out of business, or towns tourism being destroyed by wolves, when we know the economic engine that is wolves and Yellowstone. The agency knows what must occur; the West must be opened to wolves, all of it and Mexico too. They know that ranching on these lands has cost us so much in blood and treasure. But elected officials like Jon Tester of Montana, a democrat, and Steve Pearce, a tea party extremist from New Mexico, will continue their campaign of intimidation against the agency and in the case of Pearce, their purse strings.
The Zen of the wolf, is the timeless passage on our lands, it’s the balance, the halcyon beauty of an animal designed for its environment in every way. By contrast, the iniquity of the ranching industry and they circle of supporters, their often maudlin behavior is tired and must be forced to change.
Public lands ranching must, like so many other dark chapters of our nation’s history, come to an end. Like the other dark chapters, we can learn from it and promise to never allow such malice, ignorance and slaughter to occur again.
Then we can join our wild friends and rejoice under a star filled sky, proud in knowing we as a society have once again learned to love.
WATCH OUR VIDEO OF THE AUGUST 13, 2014 WOLF HEARING
For many of us, Wednesday is a chance to go to Truth or Consequences to speak out for the protection of wolves. Sadly, it will also be a time when many ranchers in New Mexico will gather once again to whine and complain about wolves and tell us all that wolves, not their sorry management of lands and livestock are at the heart of their failure.
It makes no sense in this time of budget restraints that this group of selfish and anti-government types should have such a voice concerning our public lands. They are welfare ranching and as such should be forced to co-exist with wolves or give up their leases.
Why should a group that contributes so little to our economy, so little to our education, so little to preserving the land-be given such a voice?
At Bold Visions Conservation, we believe that for far too long the conservation community has tried to work with ranchers, this is particularly true of wolf reintroduction in the north where groups like Defender of Wildlife have made millions of dollars fundraising while creating disastrous results by trying to placate with ranchers, that today are resulting in the slaughter of so many wolves in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
We cannot allow such compromise to happen in New Mexico or see will see the same carnage.
We must make clear to the US Fish and Wildlife Service that wolves, not ranchers belong on our public lands and that we must stop at once subsidizing their lifestyle that includes the killing of so much precious wildlife and the cost of the health of our public lands.
by Stephen Capra
For the past three months or so, the staff of Bold Visions Conservation has been looking for an area in our state to work to protect. After a series of meetings with the Bureau of Land Management and meeting with other conservation groups, we have decided that one area stands above the others for reasons we will explore in this essay. Its name is Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, and it remains a true marvel of wildness in the heart of Navajo Country.
Some years back while Executive Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, I became enthralled with this area, but the area had a preexisting Coal lease that at the time was working its way through the courts. I went so far as to hire a Navajo organizer and began efforts to gain support from the tribe. As our efforts to create two National Monuments grew closer, we put Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah on the back burner.
Now several years removed and several trips to the area have made clear that my initial thoughts were right on the mark. Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is small by wilderness standards, a little over 6,500 acres. Yet, in the current climate of Congress, that size may prove to be an advantage. In addition some of the canyons around the area which has been a wilderness study area since 1980 also hold great potential for the designation of a National Conservation Area with wilderness insets. The area itself is a land of hoodoos, spirals of rock, large chunks of petrified wood, and a place where sky and land touch with the wild spirit of a Native past. What remains a serious risk is that these lands and many more acres around the WSA are still open to STRIP MINING.
The perplexing issue has been a preexisting coal lease, the only one of its kind left in America. Surprisingly, according to BLM officials we met with, the value of the coal under Ah-Shi-She-Pah has actually gained value in recent years. So that has complicated a land swap first initiated by the BLM that would transfer these lands currently owned by the Navajo for lands in Wyoming that are already being mined or close to developed areas.
To date both states have agreed in principle to the trade, but the values issue has created a concern where some funds may need to be generated for the trade to be completed. Recently I spoke with Senator Heinrich about protecting this area. He was aware of the need for a trade, which would require an act of Congress, but was not aware of the vast Paleontological resources at stake in Ah-Shi-She-Pah and surrounding lands.
We began our efforts to protect this area by meeting with Adjunct Professor Robert Sullivan, who moved to New Mexico after a long career in Pennsylvania and years of research in the badlands of Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah. Mr. Sullivan has spent time not only making finds in the area, but has lectured at a museum that holds the greatest collection of paleontological finds from Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, a museum located not in New Mexico, but in Sweden!
Dr. Sullivan understands as we do that these existing leases and the price of coal could mean that the area is still subjected to mining. In this case STRIP MINING!
Recently we met with Oscar Simpson, the Director of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and he agreed to work with us as part of a growing coalition to protect this area from strip mining and gain wilderness designation.
Yet, there remains one more complexity. It is that some of the lands in the current WSA were given to the Navajo as part of the Navajo-Hopi Settlement some years back. At the time the tribe saw the mining potential as possibly lucrative. Now, they have said with the transfers on the table, they no longer want the lands within the WSA.
For Bold Visions Conservation, there are many issues to address. But perhaps the first is gaining the respect and trust of the tribe. For if this area was to be strip mined, the coal would be delivered to the Four Corners Power Plant, where it would spew pollution directly over the reservation causing even more harm.
So to us it is important to have the tribe’s support, perhaps even work to allow co-management of the lands, so the tribe would have a stake in wilderness and more importantly in the health of the land, air and water which is so sacred. This will require some time and a true investment in people. We have the support of the Agency and we are growing support with like-minded organizations.
Bold Visions Conservation works on many issues across the United States and we hope to begin projects globally, but our home is New Mexico and after managing and directing campaigns to protect close to one million acres in the state, it is impossible to stop when so much more land needs protection. We know as a nation that we must free ourselves from the curse of fossil fuels.
Yet, what makes Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah so inciting, is the human element, the chance to work once again with Native Americans and allow them a voice in the very lands they have always called home. Wilderness does not happen overnight, but once protected, these lands remain so forever. The northwest quadrant of our state is being overrun by oil and gas rigs, the lands in question are only a mile north of the fabled Chaco Canyon. Common sense and respect for those who came before us dictates that we move forward with Congressional action that removes the risk of coal development and protects as wilderness these wild lands of hoodoos and spires, sky and desert as a testament to timeless nature of an evolving world, and in so doing work directly with those whose footprints are carved by wind and rain.
With our nation facing the hard reality of global climate change thinking, that is far from fiction, (yet reality and Republicans never seem to go well together.) Despite the clear realization that as a nation and a planet we must move away from fossil fuels, the power and influence of Big Oil continues to dominate the landscape. So it’s ironic last week after the President has been speaking out about the need to end our dependence on oil and move to a clean energy future, that he quietly signed off on seismic testing from Delaware to Florida, as a first step to opening the Atlantic to offshore oil and gas development, much to the delight of Republican governors who have been pushing for this outcome for some time.
It is not just Republicans; in this case Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe a Democrat has welcomed oil money and says he is fine opening the Virginia coast, naturally with environmental safeguards in place. If it was not such a tragic decision and foolish concept, one could be excused for laughing out loud.
Off the east coast of the United States are many wonders of nature, from the migration of the endangered Right Whale, to the many mammals that thrive in these rich waters where the cold Atlantic is met with currents from the Gulf Stream. From the coastal estuaries to the ocean itself, the coast of North Carolina is known as the most diverse coastline aside from California in the United States. Yet, today its governor and a ravenous Republican controlled legislature are inviting the oil industry with open arms. In coastal communities Tea Party mayors and small town council men are being taken on golf excursions, and being given funding for their next campaigns by none-other than the oil and gas industry. Who want to help move these politicians up the political ladder with them always indebted to their good friends?
Off the coast of North Carolina one can find something even rarer, deep ocean coral reefs. Reefs that exist in total darkness yet play an important and evolving role in the health of our oceans. Shipwrecks from the days of pirates to the civil war lay on the floor a few miles off the coast, as they have for centuries. The seismic testing that the President signed off on will allow for explosions in the ocean that produce sound waves which bounce off the ocean floor, allowing the oil industry to better predict where oil or gas will be found. Of course, the oil industry sees no potential problems with such explosions impacting the Right Whales or porpoises or other sea life on a coast know historically for its fishing industry.
No Big Oil says this will have no impact and despite the removal of a drilling ban set to expire in 2017, the oil industry is gushing with the idea that they could be drilling by this time next year. So while the planet burns from fossil fuels, and the XL Pipeline remains in limbo, it appears the east coast is being primed for drilling.
Last year Bold Visions Conservation began reading the tea leaves and it was clear given the political realities that such a decision was likely to come. So we travelled to North Carolina and met with groups such as the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, North Carolina Coastal Federation, the North Carolina Environmental Law Fund to name a few. Some of the people in these groups have spent their lives fighting and protecting the North Carolina coast. They are both talented and dedicated to its protection.
Given our experience working to create and successfully gain two National Monuments in our state, we felt we could lend support and help to organize and educate the public in North Carolina to support protection of their amazing coastline.
North Carolina is not accustomed to oil and gas development; many still believe that domestic drilling means lower prices at the pump. Sadly the realities we know in New Mexico about drilling are a lesson, we are hoping we can help North Carolina avoid altogether.
As you drive to the coast where you find the spectacular Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you pass through 200,000 acres of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, home to the endangered red wolf. It is off these barrier islands that speak to life, and preserve a sense of wildness that Big Oil wants to drill.
When I spoke to business owners on the coast, they want no part of Big Oil, but in the conservative cities of Charlotte, Raleigh and so many others, the idea that we produce oil is viewed with a positive feeling. Talks about alternative energy sources were greeted with bewilderment.
Next month we will be in North Carolina, to bring together the brightest minds and begin working on protecting the coast and digging in for a fight with Big Oil. It will not be easy in this David vs. Goliath saga, but we have been there before, and if we are to allow our children to truly inherit a better earth, then it will require a real fight.
America must move away from oil and natural gas, to do so will require leaving it in the ground. It will require a real vision for an alternative future. It will also require that we respect wildlife today, so they have a future. We are investing in the North Carolina Coast and will invest in many other places to ensure that wildness lives on and oil becomes a story of the past.
“Villains, always have a keen sense of theatre – they always save the best for last – BEWARE!” Vaughn Entwistle
Bold Visions Conservation