Writing coach & wildlife enthusiast Kate Johnston has given me her take on wildlife, and the challenges that come with an everchanging climate in modern times.
Here are Kate’s opening words…
“Nature is the one common thing that unites us all in this rapidly changing world. Without a thriving environment, we can’t possibly hope to sustain other areas of human life including the economy, public health, and communities. Clean and cared-for lakes, mountains, streams, parks, forests, and other public lands are vital for outdoor recreation such as camping, boating, hiking, swimming, and fishing. Diverse and abundant wildlife and their natural habitats support urban, suburban, and rural communities.
To that end, each person has a responsibility to be a steward of the natural world we all share. The list of what we’re responsible for is lengthy and overwhelming and convoluted. This article can’t even cover the entire scope of conservation issues. Regardless, a healthy thriving environment starts with each one of us.
No matter our views or beliefs, we impact wild places every day. Deciding on how we impact wild places is the key question.”
Protecting Public Lands
After going through the fundamentals of wildlife, Kate then explains the importance of protecting public lands. Discussing the vast amount of public land Americans share (600 million acres), she highlights the importance of “prioritizing protection, reformation, and conservation”, whilst still enjoying the existence of such land. The highlighted point for me in this paragraph are the dangers of development and privatization; Kate believes many acres of land are under threat because of these destructive matters.
Oil and Gas Development
Whilst it’s true converting to cleaner energy sources (solar, wind, sun, etc) is no easy task, Kate is keen to point out the benefits of making the change:
“Transitioning to cleaner energy sources could save the U.S. $120 billion in health care costs a year.
(Link to the resource on this statistic: https://www.nrdc.org/issues/clean-energy)
While renewable energy development is in many ways safer for our public lands and waters and our public health, there are still concerns about sustaining precious wildlife. With proper and considerate development, we can commit to protecting our wide variety of habitats and wildlife while still providing for our energy needs.”
Considering all benefits (lower running costs, an increase in wildlife, safer air for us to breathe, and so on), it begs the question of why does it seem humanity isn’t in any rush to save itself.
I am also informed of the potential destruction of wildlife that comes with purchasing private land. Kate describes it perfectly in this paragraph…
“The public lands system has been under attack since its inception. The idea that money can be made off of land and water has led to the introduction of bills in state legislatures in an effort to instill fear in American citizens that our lands are being mismanaged by the federal government. The truth, however, is these same people who want to privatize the lands also back policies that will harm and exploit our natural resources. The cost for states to take over public lands would mean tax increases, job losses, higher costs in firefighting, and loss of revenue from the federal government (National Wildlife Federation, 2020). The real problem is that most states can’t pay for the land management, so they sell off portions to the highest bidder—the highest bidder who may or may not have the land’s best interests at heart.”
(>>>Sign petitions and pledges to protect our public lands from being sold off and exploited. Be sure those you elect to office are in support of protecting our public lands to maintain our marvelous conservation heritage. Look into adopt-an-acre or adopt-a-species programs to help funnel much-needed funds into these threatened areas).
Protecting Public Waters
When it comes to public waters, it’s not just the life of animals that’s at risk. Humans need access to clean water to drink and for protection against natural hazards.
I am told about the importance of protecting water systems through improved and reformed water management.
Here is what Kate said about protecting water from pollution:
“>>>The best way we can ensure clean water for ourselves and future generations and our valuable wildlife is to support the Clean Water Rule, which clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act and protects the drinking water of one in three Americans. We have a voice, but no one can hear us if we don’t speak up. Contact the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and your local elected officials and let them know that you support the Clean Water Rule.”
(The Clean Water Act: https://www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Waters/Clean-Water-Act was passed in 1972, thus ensuring good water quality for people and wildlife).
Ways To Reduce Pollution
Reduce your plastic use, and reuse/recycle plastic whenever possible.
- Properly dispose of chemical cleaners, oils, and non-biodegradable items instead of pouring them down your drain.
- Maintain your car so it doesn’t leak oil, antifreeze, or coolant.
- Avoid using pesticides in your yard.
- Clean up after your dog.
- Don’t litter.
Bringing It Home
To conclude the information, Kate explains ways you and I (the general population) can help reduce pollution and preserve wildlife for future generations:
- Many species are long-distance travelers. Therefore, your ‘small’ changes do indeed have a big impact.
- Simple practices intended to sustain wildlife, such as eliminating the use of pesticides or putting up some birdhouses, can make a huge difference.
- Pollinators are a prime example of the importance of providing a healthy habitat, as they are vital to the production of healthy crops.
- Pretty much all seed plants need to be pollinated, so without bees, bats, butterflies, moths, and other insects, we will lose our trees, flowers, and crops.
- Monarch butterfly populations have decreased up to 90% over the last two decades mainly due to habitat loss and pesticide poisoning. (Link to statistic:https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/monarch_butterfly/)
- One way to help increase the population of monarchs is to plant milkweed
- Hang a bat house
- Choose native plants as they’re better adapted to your soil type, climate, and local wildlife.
- Provide water—a shallow dish with half-submerged stones is perfectly acceptable.
- Keep your hard clean of debris, litter, and clean up after your pets
- Provide a simple sugar solution for butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds
- Feed the birds in the winter
- Compost food waste and add it to your soil to replenish the nutrients
To learn more about the above conservation issues, check out the following resources:
Center for Biological Diversity (biologicaldiversity.org)
Defenders of Wildlife (defenders.org)
National Resources Defense Council (nrdc.org)
National Wildlife Federation (nwf.org)
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