Hunting and conservation have a long history together. In today’s world, where natural predators aren’t as common as they used to be, hunting is sometimes necessary for population control of animals such as deer or beaver. These animals can quickly alter an ecosystem if their populations aren’t kept in check by hunting. On the flipside of the coin, it is hunting that cause populations of animals such as wolves, grizzly bears, and bison to die off in the first place. Although hunting is strictly regulated now, that wasn’t always the case and animals have even been hunted to extinction. Basically, the relationship and history between hunting and conservation is a complicated one. One that is still being worked on today. This month, that has become even more evident with new hunting regulations being approved in Wyoming and proposed in Alaska.
After months of debate, and not one, but two government shutdowns, a spending bill for the federal government was finally passed on March 22nd. Much to the pleasant surprise of public lands advocates, Donald Trump’s proposed cuts were nowhere to be seen and instead the budget is actually up by over $3 billion. In America’s system of checks and balances, it is ultimately congress that has the power over the budget, and it looks like public lands advocacy is paying off. Let’s take a look at where that money went.
On this blog I frequently discuss the issues facing our public lands today. Many of these issues stem from overcrowding and our parks being “loved to death.” As many parks experience more and more visitation, with increasing impacts on the natural resources they are supposed to protect, the question is often raised, “What can we do?” Zion National Park is finally taking charge to do something about this and recently announced the preliminary concepts of their Visitor Use Management Plan (VUMP). This plan is a game changer in many ways, and sets a precedent that we can expect to see other parks following in the upcoming years.
It seems as with each passing day that public lands are becoming more and more present on the frontlines of the American social consciousness. For years these lands have gotten so much bipartisan support that we forgot that there are still those out there who aren’t particularly fond of them. In recent years, and even weeks, it has become more and more evident that these special places aren’t beloved by everyone, and that if we want to keep them around the way they are now, we need to be aware of that.
When President Obama visited Yosemite and Carlsbad Caverns this month, he faced a lot of criticism. Some of the complaints were that the timing wasn’t right following the tragedy in Orlando, that his weekend visit interrupted the Father’s Day weekend of too many people in the crowded Yosemite, that he should be focused on more important things than the national parks, and finally that his transportation had a negative environmental impact on these places. Even if every single one of these complaints were absolutely legitimate, Obama’s visit to the parks was still important and still necessary.
When visiting Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, or any other of the vast number of protected scenic lands in the United States, most people are grateful that the land was set aside to be protected. But besides the immediate effects of conserving a piece of land, what other benefits do America’s Public Lands have on the green movement as a whole and how do they positively affect environmental stewardship?