The Relative Comment

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A lament for the end of conservation

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TRC recently discussed the state of the conservation movement in this country, by looking at the alliance of environmentalists and outdoor recreationalists. We tried to be optimistic.

Dennis Anderson at the Star Tribune, however, is not optimistic. He has written an article worth a read: It’s the End of Conservation as we Know it. Anderson asks if the lovers of the lakes and waters and woods of America hear the rumble in the distance, and argues that the noise you hear is not congress.

Instead it’s the sound of modern conservation crumbling at its foundation, not quickly to be put back together, if it ever is.
Put another way: The money’s gone, and with it — in Washington and in state capitals across the land — the legislative will to sustain the nation’s natural heritage by funding land and water conservation at historical levels.
Perhaps it should be no surprise.
Jobs are scarce, money is tight. And it’s long been known that the largest share of the population doesn’t give a rip about natural resource protection.
Not if they have to pay for it, or exert effort toward that end.
It was a good run. Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and extending, with varying levels of intensity and effectiveness, through the administration of George W. Bush, the conservation of the nation’s lands and waters was an idea whose basic validity never was challenged.
Historically, factions have argued over legislative and funding priorities, and how much could be afforded. But underlying these disputes was the fundamental belief that wild places and wild things were integral to the national psyche, and worth preserving.

It’s safe to say, at least to those of us who are passionate about preserving wild things in the country, that fundamental belief seems to be disappearing from the broader American mind.

Anderson ends with a call to revitalize conservation without an expanded DNR or government funds, for surely such things are in the past. Rather, the local, state and national leaders in the conservation movement must develop a new vision for conservation in America. “Otherwise the Minnesota — and the nation — your kids and grandkids inherit won’t resemble a whit the one you’ve called home these many long years.”


Written by Christopher ZF

August 1, 2011 at 16:58

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