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habitat politics

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  • SiriusGuy@aol.com
    Even before the fires of Southern California fall to natural control by fog and rain, already we have political precipitation from those who would like to
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 30, 2003
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      Even before the fires of Southern California fall to natural control by fog
      and rain, already we have political precipitation from those who would like to
      blame everything on the conservation community. Please see link below to an
      article posted today by "the weekly Standard," by a "contributing editor," one
      Hugh Hewitt, who casually mentions that "as a lawyer representing
      landowners," in the past he was angered and frustrated by agencies attempting to put a
      rein on development at the cost of some habitat and species preservation.


      http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/310euctj.asp

      Don't worry. You have only begun to hear this sort of critique, at all
      levels ascending to the halls of Congress. Be prepared!

      Alan Birnbaum
      Fresno, CA



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • kmburton
      I think it s important to keep in mind what these fires mean in real terms. Even people on this list have lamented the loss of treasured birding sites.
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 1, 2003
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        I think it's important to keep in mind what these fires mean in real terms.
        Even people on this list have lamented the "loss" of treasured birding
        sites. These sites have not been lost; they've been altered temporarily.
        Granted, they will not return to pre-fire conditions in our lifetimes, but
        this is all part of a natural process. Don't we all get excited by seeing
        new birds in old places? These burn areas will be chock-full of new birds
        for years to come. Dick Hutto at Montana is convinced that even
        "catastrophic" fires are an essential part of most forest ecosystems; his
        studies show higher abundance and diversity in post-burn sites and some
        species are almost obligate burn specialists.

        It's much harder to garner public support for shrub and grassland habitats
        than treed ones. Apparently, even birders have fallen into this trap.
        While the loss of human life and property is lamentable, these fires are an
        ecological disaster ONLY if they provide fuel for developers.

        Ken Burton
        Inverness
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <SiriusGuy@...>
        To: <calbirds@yahoogroups.com>; <sdbirds@onelist.com>
        Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2003 10:00 AM
        Subject: [CALBIRDS] habitat politics


        > Even before the fires of Southern California fall to natural control by
        fog
        > and rain, already we have political precipitation from those who would
        like to
        > blame everything on the conservation community. Please see link below to
        an
        > article posted today by "the weekly Standard," by a "contributing editor,"
        one
        > Hugh Hewitt, who casually mentions that "as a lawyer representing
        > landowners," in the past he was angered and frustrated by agencies
        attempting to put a
        > rein on development at the cost of some habitat and species preservation.
        >
        >
        >
        http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/310euctj.a
        sp
        >
        > Don't worry. You have only begun to hear this sort of critique, at all
        > levels ascending to the halls of Congress. Be prepared!
        >
        > Alan Birnbaum
        > Fresno, CA
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
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      • Nathaniel Wander
        As an ecological anthropologist (someone who studies the interactive effects of socio-cultural and environmental processes), I d say it s not so simple as
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 1, 2003
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          As an ecological anthropologist (someone who studies the interactive
          effects of socio-cultural and environmental processes), I'd say it's not so
          simple as birders who refuse to accept variation or change vs. natural
          systems that thrive on or even demand them. Periodic fires may be an
          historical part of these ecological systems--even a necessity for some
          species to reproduce--but the intensity of some of these fires, stoked by
          decades of deliberate fire suppression, far exceed the parameters under
          which these systems evolved or to which member communities
          adapted. Quantitative changes can become qualitative ones, and this might
          not be the first time that humans in N. America added the extra little push
          that sent whole ecosystems right over the edge.

          Some pre-historians and paleo-ecologists hypothesize, for example, that
          aboriginal hunters at the end of the last ice age created just enough
          additional pressures to push the already stressed N. American megafauna
          right off the map, taking lots of other animals and plants with them. Not
          the least interesting of these to birders would have been Teratornis
          merriami, a giant condor of possibly 12-foot wingspan (as suggested by
          specimens recovered from the La Brea tarpits), which could well have been
          the N. American Indians "Thunderbird." Again, global warming would have
          been the background stressor to which human ingenuity added an extra oomph.

          That's for long term changes: simply put, there's little to guarantee that
          severely overstressed systems will return to anything like their historic
          parameters, no matter how many generations of birders wait them
          out. Long-term stressors are compounded by short-term ones as
          well. Humans have "de-natured," i.e., deforested, appropriated limited
          water supplies, paved so much of these environments, that there are limited
          refuges to which burned out species can retire to rebuild their populations
          or wait out the re-building of their food sources. Because of their
          mobility, many birds may have an easier time of reaching refuge than less
          mobile species, still. If enough links in the web are permanently broken
          or fundamentally altered, there's no telling what ecological communities
          will eventually repopulate the burns.

          Life is remarkably tenacious. Something will survive/return. The north
          face of Mount St Helens is literally "living proof" of that. But
          what? Admittedly the redistribution of carbon as a result of even the
          worst of the S. California fires doesn't come close to that of the
          Triassic-Jurassic Transition, but I doubt there are many dinosaur watchers
          out there still holding their breath. Likely any survivors have long since
          evolved into birders.

          Nathaniel Wander
          San Francisco

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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