So another Memorial Day is passing and we have seen lots of flags and heartfelt speeches. Looking at places like Arlington cemetery one gets a sense of the loss, the waste of life that died far too young. Yet, increasingly looking at these markers and the symbolism of the day many people cannot watch without thinking why? Why as a nation have we made the defense of oil reserves, the mantle on which we allow so many young men and woman, many who come from rural or inner city areas to meet their fate on a lonely battlefield so many miles away?
We do it to enrich an industry and few individuals that care nothing about our planet, nothing about so many species that are endangered by their greed and the stupidity of our government. Every time you fill up your car, you must think to yourself-OIL KILLS! It unlike cigarettes enjoys the full control of nations the world over. As rigs are placed in delicate oceans or in areas once pristine, we lose more of the DNA that is our planet.
Every year we spend trillions of dollars on our military, much of it to protect oil reserves, while our military consumes more oil than many nations, patrolling the world, protecting as we are told, and our freedom. In the coming months as part of this freedom seeking, the military will begin its operation Arctic. This operation that is designed to envision an arctic free of ice, it seems the military unlike many in congress understands that global warming is real and a strategic risk. So to deal with it they will run exercises off the coast of Alaska, in some of the richest salmon grounds in the world. What the military will do is then use real ammo, bombs and other ordinance dumping it, exploding, it in some of our most pristine waters. Don’t worry we are told, this is about national defense. Never mind that so many sea creatures like killer whales, deep sea reefs, and clean ocean waters will be subjected to bombs with God knows what chemicals.
We are doing training in waters that are losing their ice to climate change, and we are perfecting our military and despoiling our ocean to protect oil. In so doing we will use billions of gallons of oil and yet, no one is stopping our addiction to oil, the reason we are losing the ice and playing war games. Our priorities are completely insane.
For the cost of such war games, for the coast of protecting oil in the Middle-East, we could be making our country energy independent via alternative energy. Our country could be investing now in the next generation of alternatives through our many research facilities. Perhaps most important, we could stop honoring the new faces of Arlington, because we no longer need to protect the world from the energy hungry nation we have always been.
Let’s look at our priorities on this our Memorial Day weekend and rededicate ourselves to protecting our lands waters, wildlife and future to protecting our earth, not to killing more young men and woman for the very thing that is killing life as we know it. OIL KILLS, OIL KILLS.
Mike Ranson is a man passionate about protecting about wild places. As the Executive officer of the Robert Q. Ranson Family Trust, he sees conservation as an extension of his family’s vision and values. Mike loves fishing and spends his time along the southern coast. It is there that his passion and conviction is that no off-shore drilling should occur. He also feels that stopping it is the fight of this generation! Mike has spent his life in North Carolina and is dedicated to protecting its wild places.
Conservation has long been about the protection of wildlife, land, water and air. While the fight has continued, the concentration of wealth has persisted in the US and globally. Consumption has become the drug that is literally killing our planet.
The goal for many is to have millions of dollars, with little regard to what can be done to change the world for the better. However, this week a First Nation in Northern British Columbia said NO to a billion dollar offer that would have allowed the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal on their ancestral lands.
This band of 3,600 Tsimashian First Nation members turned it all down. Their reasoning is that such development could harm salmon runs that are vital to the tribe’s way of life. While they remain open to discussion, many in our culture would find turning down a billion impossible, no matter what was at stake. Certainly land or salmon would stop few. It has been inspiring to hear this story in the midst of an atmosphere of such greed and plunder that a voice of sanity can be found in the far north amongst a group of people that understand land and salmon mean far more to their way of life, than an instant infusion of cash.
There remains another group that puts the value of land above that of money, seeking justice more than financial gain. They are known as the Oglala Sioux. In a piece written in 2011, Maria Streshinsky points out the grim statics facing 17 reservations scattered from Montana through the Dakotas to Minnesota. Today they remain some of the poorest people in our country. Drugs, booze and suicide ravage the tribe. With 80 per cent unemployment, “rape” in Ms. Streshinsky’s words, is “pandemic”. Many in the tribe over 40 years of age are experiencing diabetes along with some of the lowest life expectancies in the Western Hemisphere (men 48, women 52).
Tribal members believe that the 1877 Act of Congress that moved the Sioux from their sacred Black Hills was not valid and that the land itself was never for sale. In 1980, the courts affirmed an original settlement of $102 million. That settlement now stands at one billion dollars, and despite their troubles and concerns about managing such funds appropriately, the tribe has said no to the money. That’s NO to the money. The Sioux do not want money; they believe the cure is the return of the land that stands in the shadows of the four presidents carved in the rocks that helped to destroy their way of life.
What is the cost of losing lands? What is the cost of losing precious waters? What does it do to destroy a culture that values spirit and nature above the currency of capitalism? Capitalism has crushed spirits, cultures and land for generations, gaining control of its dark underside is essential for the healing of a planet in dire need of support.
We can all talk about the importance of the environment to our soul, to our sense of quality of life. It is these Native American’s that are truly putting meaning to that sense of what wild nature means to our lives. They stand proudly and groups such as Bold Visions stand with them in their efforts to find justice for the lands lost and for their conviction that life and happiness can be defined more by healthy lands and waters than by cash.
They set the standard that we must understand when we take on BIG OIL or a Congress that is controlled by oil and gas or coal. Nothing is as important as our land and waters. They are beyond value; they represent what we are as a people. Nature in its wildest form is justice in an unjust world. These stories represent the clarity of conviction that is rare in our modern world.
The earth needs more such heroes.
In a little more than a month, we will begin a voyage to give life to the fight that is brewing off the Atlantic coast. The purpose of this trip is to create a documentary film that will finish production by September 1st and distributed to conservation organizations up and down the eastern seaboard to educate and build opposition to off-shore drilling. This is a vital tool and no one else is making such a film!
In the south, we currently have a very dangerous situation. With the exception of Virginia, all states have Republican governors. In Virginia, the Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe has made clear he supports off-shore oil and gas development. For Republicans there is almost a sense of bliss about the pending development. The continued push for fossil fuels is a central template to keeping America addicted to oil. President Obama has made clear his support for opening the Atlantic coast to off-shore development.
Over the past two years we have traveled extensively to North Carolina, meeting with people along the coast, in the larger cities and asking them what they thought about drilling off their coast. Most people I spoke with made clear they wanted no part of it because they had chosen to live there due to the natural beauty and the pull that the ocean has on their psyche.
The other major reason was that they derived their livelihood off the ocean, from fishing to tours, from restaurants to arcades. They taught at universities, or worked as police. What placed them there was complex but real: They were born to this place or moved to the coast because of a primordial desire to wake each day to the sound of breaking waves.
Away from the coast, the conservative sense of the south was more skeptical. Many expressed a sense that “Arabs were controlling oil and costing us lives, so let’s drill.” The hate and loathing of President Obama seemed to color much of the debate. What was most striking was the complete lack of understanding of just what oil and gas development would do to the coast. People seemed to trust the commercials they had seen about the gulf as evidence that a spill would have no long-term impacts. They seemed to believe that “new technology” was going to ensure safety. In terms of infrastructure to move oil or gas and the need for terminals to transport it overseas for export, was something no one had any idea about.
One spill could have devastating and long-term consequences for life as we know it on the Atlantic coast.
So the message was oil development was all gain and no pain! That was at the core of our decision to create this film, to get people to understand that generations of people’s way of life could be threatened by development. That keeping America addicted to oil means more wars, more spills and less freedom.
While we push, so too does big oil throwing lots of money at politicians along the coast and meeting with county commissions with a strategy of selling them on the money drilling could provide and false promises of safety.
Having lived in New Mexico, we have seen firsthand the devastation caused by spills or explosions on the land, and have seen the clusters of cancer near drilling sites or the foul air that stings the nostrils. We have seen the impacts to wildlife and can only wonder what seismic blasts and drill rigs will do to right whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
People in the south are far too trusting of big oil and that is because it has never been their neighbor. The conservative politics of the area only reinforces the divide that pushes people to reactively support that which they do not truly understand.
Our goal is to film the people living from Florida to North Carolina, to hear in their own words, why drilling the coast is bad for their future and bad for America. We want to capture the beauty and essence of a wild ocean and all the creatures that make it so very special.
This fight has a long way to go, but we must give people a visual sense of what is at stake and we must meet with them one person at a time to change and build a strong group of citizens emboldened to protect the life and wild spirit of their coast.
Bold Visions Conservation has a goal of being a small but nimble conservation organization working across the country on issues of critical importance to the environment. Please help us to raise $5000 to make this film a reality!
It’s part of our commitment to partner with other groups for change!
by Stephen Capra
Over the past month, Bold Visions Conservation has been engaged in a battle to save some of Castle Rock, Colorado’s remaining prairie dogs. Last week those prairie dogs found a home on a ranch in central Colorado on the Front Range. It is the complex nature of these rescues and the politics behind them that make wildlife protection so challenging.
During our involvement in the process we encountered both the difficulty of working with other conservation groups (turf battles, insane ego, and fight for dollars) which in this case was unprecedented. Our interactions with this group were a pall on one’s mental health.
Another conflict was one with a familiar enemy in Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Colorado’s version of Game and Fish. They withdrew the permit to relocate Castle Rock’s prairie dogs to New Mexico after a donor was forced to withdraw their land as the relocation site. Stunned, we drove eight hours to Denver to try and find a solution with CPW.
Our meeting was with Eliza Hunholz and one of her agents, Justin Olsen, who had worked on EcoSolution’s permit. Hunholz was rude, fists pounding on tables rude. She demanded to know where they were keeping the prairie dogs and threatened to revoke EcoSolutions license, not just in Colorado, but in 46 other states. She looked us in the eye not once but several times and said clearly “You will return the prairie dogs to us and we will kill them, you better wrap your heads around that fact.”
This exemplifies the mentality we see in Game and Fish Departments nationally, people with a commitment to kill anything that is not a deer or elk. In Colorado, the situation was made worse by the coordination with Colorado legislators who remain firmly in bed with the livestock industry passing laws to make it illegal to transport prairie dogs across county lines without county commission approval, which naturally is close to impossible. In addition, Colorado politicians passed rules that direct wildlife legislation through the Agriculture Committee, which means livestock interests control wildlife issues, a procedure New Mexico duplicated this past legislative session. These two laws must be corrected and Bold Visions plans to make sure there is a presence in the Colorado legislature in the coming year.
What remains disturbing is the culture that has been created in state Game and Fish Departments. It is one that leads us not only to the petty nature of agents to “kill prairie dogs” but also to directly see the link to the slaughter of wolves that is ongoing in Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and other states that practically mandates their agents act as the livestock law enforcement bureau.
Our interaction with Eliza Hunholz was not unusual; groups we spoke with in Colorado had a history of dealing with her and her zeal to kill is well known. She is not alone; we can see this as an epidemic in state agencies agency nationally. This group of “good old boys” allows for hound hunting, trapping, bear baiting and other sick and demented actions across the country. It’s always about hunters and livestock, despite the fact that people who choose other outdoor activities far outnumber this remnant population. Yet Governors, who often hand pick their commissioners, rarely try to make change and instead use their choices to placate hunting and ranching interests.
If we are going to make real change in conservation, it must begin with ending or radically changing these Game and Fish departments. First, we think it makes sense to change the name of such departments. Let’s try a name such as the Wildlife Protection Agency. Let’s remove the politics and appoint a committee that reflects the population of a state. If 15% of the state hunts, then they get 15% sportsmen and 85% conservationists and no livestock interests. Why should they have representation? At best they lease public land and perhaps they could have a single representative; growing up renting apartments in NYC, we did not have much of a voice in its operation, because we did not own it.
We must ban the cruel actions such as hound hunting, bear baiting, and remove the traps that senselessly kill innocent wildlife and family pets. More than anything we must pressure our elected officials to force change on these agencies that rule each state like a fiefdom.
Our experience in Colorado was not easy, but our goal was to rescue what prairie dogs were left from a massive killing. We came away with 125 in the short time allotted for rescue, they will now live and thrive, but only after a major fight with an agency that did all it could to try and kill them. The way the law is set in Colorado and many other states, trying to rescue and move prairie dogs is perhaps more complex than moving a lion; it makes no sense for such a beautiful and loving keystone species. We are no longer stuck in the 19th century, it is time we force Game and Fish Departments to move into the 21st century and to stop their war on species that have every right to co-exist and help define a healthy and thriving environment.
Please help us today by making a donation to our Game and Fish reform fund!
At a time when earth is literally crying out in need of man to stop its devastating impacts to our land, water and air, President Obama has announced plans to open the eastern seaboard to offshore oil and gas development.
Despite clear evidence that alternative energy sources are far more promising, Republican leaders and ‘blue-dog’ Democrats have been pushing in recent years to begin drilling. It seems the oil and gas lobby sees no land or water they feel should be free of their tyrannical reign on this earth.
The Atlantic coast is filled with a myriad of endangered species, including the north Atlantic right whale. The coastline is a sport fishing mecca, as well as a vacation destination for millions of people looking to escape the heat. One spill could have devastating impacts to this ecologically rich and economically important part of our country. Perhaps more importantly, why we would risk so much once again for oil? If our country is to truly move forward with alternative energy, we must begin to tell Big Oil: NO!
Bold Visions Conservation has spent the past two years working with conservation groups in North Carolina to stop oil and gas development and pursuing the idea of creating a large Marine Sanctuary off the coast. We have held a series of meetings in North Carolina and have looked for a meaningful way to get the message to a far larger audience.
In June, Executive Director Stephen Capra will join a group of conservationists sailing from the southern tip of Florida to North Carolina, with the goal of creating an important documentary of the people on the coast, the waters at stake and why offshore drilling has no place on America’s east coast. Our journey will trace the very same waters where development would occur, and will show you the beauty and power of a Wild Atlantic!
Our goal is to meet and inform citizens who are unaccustomed to oil and gas development in their precious waters, to inform them of the dangers of offshore drilling and why as a nation we must finally move beyond oil.
This film will tell the stories of people that live on the coast, who have made it part of their life, along with those that are completely dependent on it for their way of life. It is their story, intermixed with the beauty and majesty of the ocean that we hope will make it clear why drilling must never occur in the Wild Atlantic.
You can help us to make this film a reality!
Help us raise $6000 to produce a film that tells a story of life and the threat now facing those who call the coast home.
Click here to donate!
One thing about creating a small nationally based conservation group is the need to focus your energies on multiple subjects while not ignoring those that you have made a priority. For our group that has meant getting the Wolf Action Coalition off the ground, rescuing prairie dogs in Colorado, meeting with elected officials to talk about protecting Ah-She-Sle-Pah wilderness in New Mexico and now putting tremendous energy into creating a documentary on the Atlantic coast and the threat posed by offshore oil and gas development.
All these issues matter and what they share is the passion our organization brings to them. We work every day to make sure that progress occurs and that we can continue to make a difference, not just in these areas, but in finding new ways that we can make a mark in protecting wildlife, water and land.
That is what has led us to undertake a documentary film that tells the story of life on the Atlantic coast, and the impact offshore development could have on a priceless way of life. We want to illustrate the dramatic impact oil and gas exploration could have on the whales, dolphins and millions of sea creatures that depend on humans doing what is right to provide clean water and to stop climate change and its impact on our oceans.
As mentioned before I spent many years in North Carolina and have come to love the southern ocean, for the freedom it represented to me as a young man. From Florida to North Carolina, I was fortunate enough to swim those waters and search their beaches for shells and sharks teeth. Before I ventured west, standing on the shore was the closest sense I had to feeling one with the environment, the sound of the surf and heat of the sun, transformed one’s mind by the boundless scale that comes with a coastline of sand and water.
The oil and gas industry has long had its sights on Atlantic waters, with the first drilling having occurred in 1947; 51 exploratory wells later, we still have no oil. That is the good news; the bad news is, Big Oil wants more. They might already be drilling were it not for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf. Because of that spill, drilling off the Atlantic was postponed until 2017.
In the US, state waters extend 3.45 miles from the beach, while federal extend 200 miles. The oil industry is looking to drill 50 miles from shore, near the Gulf Stream that would take a spill to Greenland, Europe and beyond.
In 2012, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy management (BOEM) estimated undiscovered recoverable oil in federal Atlantic waters to be close to 3.30 billion barrels and 31.28 trillion cubic feet of gas. Of course these are estimates and not fact, and as we have seen in the Arctic, these figures can vary wildly.
The reality is we must simply leave any of this oil and gas in the ground. It’s not just so the beaches remain free of petroleum, it is because drilling for oil and gas is what is causing Global Climate Change. The use of fossil fuels causes ocean acidification, killing all that defines life as we know it.
Armed with such information, the answer is simple, do not drill. However, with a head in the sand approach and so many politicians willing to turn their cheek while filling their pockets, drilling seems to becoming fast-tracked.
Right now the biggest projections seem to lie off the North Carolina coast, but Virginia can also be a factor. While Florida is not currently open to drilling, they will allow seismic testing, which in addition to profoundly impacting the marine environment, is the first step in opening Florida’s waters to drilling.
Naturally, Big Oil will then look to the north and the drilling will continue: We must stop drilling in its tracks. Some new voices have appeared recently, speaking out against offshore drilling, including Congressman Mark Stanford (Charleston, SC, whose rise to fame involved his disappearance from the Appalachian trail) and perhaps even South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, both Republicans.
Yet in the other states it seems to be a chorus of ‘drill baby drill.’ North Carolina is in the midst of perhaps the greatest rollback of environmental regulations and safeguards in our country thanks to Republican lawmakers.
For two weeks in June, Bold Visions Conservation will be filming interviews with people all along the Atlantic Coast and telling you their stories.
Our country has fought far too many wars, has endured so much devastation at the hands of the oil and gas industry. The east coast has not seen firsthand the impacts of big oil outside of Pennsylvania. Many people there simply do not understand what is coming.
Owners of the hotels, shops and restaurants on the coast need to join the fight too: what would happen to your business, your way of life, when the first oil slick spews across your shoreline?
I was taught from childhood to never look back with regret.
Our goal is to give Atlantic coast conservation groups a tool and its residents an understanding of what could be lost and gained by saying ‘NO’ to drilling off the coast, moving our country away from fossil fuels and solidly on the path to renewable energy.
With your help, we will produce a film that coastal conservation groups can use to help create the noise and voices that will defeat Big Oil once and for all!
Please take a moment and consider a donation to making this film a reality! We plan to distribute this film by September 1! If you leave on the east coast, or have friends there, please forward this email!
Help us stop big oil, before it’s too late.
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by Stephen Capra
Over the past week, one horrific image* has come to life: one of a mountain lion paw devoid of leg in a steel trap. The paw, is detached from its leg; missing is the animal that fate brought to this trap to suffer. Much like Alan Ralston, the canyoneer who famously cut off his own arm to escape certain death; this animal, without such fanfare, did the same so that it might survive.
Something about that image precedes a horror that haunts from within; it allows pain through the membrane of the mind. Imagine if you can such beauty, such wildness, condemned to such pain, to such fear, by someone with a heart both empty and sallow. Some have said the picture is not real or that it is contrived. Perhaps it may be, but is certainly not a lie. How many paws have been left in traps over the generations, as man sought the fur of an animal? How many animals have been left alone to walk in circles, withering in pain as they slowly die or wait for the person who set up such misery to come and club or shoot them? On such days they may even taunt them for the camera, these people who speak of culture as a means to justify their behavior. Such obstensible actions come from people who see their own life as nothing but torture. How else can one explain a life that finds meaning and purpose in the suffering of wildlife?
Every day, we witness the atrocities of war in the Middle East, in Africa, or with our own police killings. Despite the outrage and frustration, the anger at wasting tax dollars at such destructive practices, they continue and always have the lobbying strength and public ignorance to maintain the status quo. Such is the fate of trappers these days. They continue their killing spree in broad daylight of public awareness, but remain shielded by state Game and Fish Departments, the livestock industry and the meek elected officials that see wildlife not as a being, but rather as a resource which, like land, is there to plunder and evidently in this case, to torture. The Federal government also employs its own agents of death in the form of Wildlife Services, an agency that acts as a retinue for the livestock industry and finds enough support to inflict great harm to any species that does not moo.
For a generation or more, the conservation community has worked to stop the funding for this group of American terrorists, yet they continue to shoot from helicopters, set traps and support a mindset of jihad against predators and other species that define a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Such agents of death must never receive another dollar in tax payer funding, period: they must be shut down now and forever.
Somewhere today in Idaho, a lone mountain lion, one that lost its mother to hunters is trying to live on its own. Lacking certain knowledge the lion will go out to find food, only to be seduced by the scent left on a trap. For that lion the nightmare has just begun. How much longer can we allow such savagery? How much longer can we allow ignorance and evil to be handed down from one generation to the next?
I want that paw freed from the trap, I want that paw and leg reunited, I want that lion to live and thrive! We will lose our soul without wildlife thriving in our lives. With corporations now considered people, we have already lost our heart. This paw represents all that is wrong with managing wildlife and reminds us once again that people, not wildlife, MUST be managed, if we are to live in balance and begin to grasp the power of harmony in our lives.
Recently, Bold Visions Conservation, with some of the West and Mid-West’s most important conservation groups, ones without annual budgets in the millions, but rather groups that work on bold ideas and on the frontlines and get results to create and form Wolf Action Coalition. The idea was that we must begin to educate and break down the cancer that is killing our planet. One such cancer is USDA’s Wildlife Services and all those that support trapping as an acceptable lifestyle; it is their mindset that allows grizzly images of a lion’s paw in a trap. It is same mindset that legitimizes livestock grazing as a legitimate use of public lands. It is such a mindset that rewards ignorance and our responsibility to ensure all animals the right to coexist on this planet.
In the months ahead you will learn more about the Wolf Action Coalition, we will ask for your support when we take actions to protect wolves and to demand an end to all trapping in America. We will call out elected officials that support not just trapping but the selling off of our public lands. We want them to become familiar names to you and likewise we want you to become a familiar name to them!
Together, we can make a difference and be a voice for those creatures that depend on our determination.
Open your eyes so your heart can flow….
Bold Visions Conservation