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Ecology

What is Our Land For?

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By Jill Richardson
OtherWords

Should we graze it, log it, drill it, and mine it? Or should we preserve it, study it, recreate in it, and revere it?

Mojave Trails National Monument

Mojave Trails National Monument

The Trump administration accidentally released documents showing that they intentionally underestimated the value of national monuments while emphasizing the land’s value for logging, ranching, and energy development. Oopsie.

National monuments are federally protected lands that differ from national parks in a few important ways. Whereas only Congress can create a national park, the president can create a national monument with the stroke of a pen. Many national parks were national monuments first.

The Grand Canyon is an example. You might think the Grand Canyon would be among the most obvious slam dunk places to make a national park in the United States. Alas, it wasn’t.

Private interests initially prevented Congress from creating Grand Canyon National Park. President Teddy Roosevelt protected the Grand Canyon as a national monument in 1908, and it took Congress 11 more years to make it a park.

The Antiquities Act gives the president unilateral power to create national monuments, and Trump generally loves executive power of all kinds. However, in this case, he likes using his power to shrink existing national monuments.

The Trump administration recently reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Bears Ears in particular contains land sacred to Native Americans. The coal and oil industries were behind the decision to shrink the two monuments.

The newly — accidentally — released documents show that the Trump administration intentionally hid evidence that would bolster the case for leaving the monuments at their present size, such as tourism revenue and archaeological value.

At the heart of the matter, in addition to a story about a corrupt and inept government, is a conflict between Americans about the proper relationship between people and the land.

What is our land for? Should we graze it, log it, drill it, and mine it? Or should we preserve it, study it, recreate in it, and revere it?

Presumably, we need a happy medium of both.

Unless we find a way to run our economy without fossil fuels, or the entire nation goes vegan, or we stop using wood and paper, we can’t curtail all drilling, grazing, and logging. And obviously America isn’t going vegan, no matter how much certain animal rights groups think we should.

Whatever one’s opinion of extractive industries, they’re the basis for the economy and the way of life in much of the Old West. It’s a way of life that’s rugged and difficult and, increasingly, threatened by a trend of rural gentrification.

On the other hand, nature has intrinsic value. The beauty of our wild lands forms part of our identity as Americans and enhances quality of life. Intact ecosystems contribute to clean air and water, which we all need. And desecrating the sacred land of Native Americans is morally repugnant.

Additionally, tourism to national monuments pumps dollars into the economy and creates jobs.

Both land uses provide jobs and other benefits. Each is valued by a different group of people.

The Trump administration doesn’t appear interested in any sort of reasoned discussion that recognizes the merit of each side. This only serves to anger and entrench each side in the conflict instead of working toward compromise.

Perhaps someday we can find a solution that provides economic prosperity in America’s rural areas but doesn’t destroy the land in the process. Unfortunately, it won’t be while Trump’s in office.

This article is licensed by OtherWords under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

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Ecology

Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science

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YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

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Ecology

Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth

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Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

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Ecology

COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

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