Development versus Wildlife: The Case of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Todd Wilkinson has written an excellent article in the Mountain Journal titled “Unnatural Disaster: Will America’s Most Iconic Wild Ecosystem be lost to a Tidal Wave of People” concerning the growing population of humans in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem with a particular focus on Bozeman, Montana. He cites studies that show that the Bozeman and Gallatin Valley area population, already 105,000 will double in 24 years with a 3 percent growth rate—and its actual growth rate is significantly higher. He cites the fact that development is a one-way street—once “concrete, asphalt, roads, traffic, noise pollution” take place, there is no going back—wildness is gone forever. He also cites data on Jackson Hole Wyoming concerning not only are huge homes with big footprints being built there but, because housing is too expensive, lower income people who service the wealthy live and commute in other areas, increasing the impact of development. He cites data that these huge homes average only 2.3 persons per dwelling, half the number 60 years ago, but the wealthy newcomers put their dwellings in “dream” spots on rivers which are biodiversity “hotspots” and often in the way of routes that wildlife travel. These homes footprints include new roads, driveways, “outbuildings,” dogs and other pets, infrastructure that disturbs the environment such as plumbing and electricity. The draw of seeing wildlife especially grizzlies and wolves brings more than 1 billion dollars to the GYE area but with growing costs. Thus the roads are “choked with summer traffic,” visits are setting records, and mountain biking and ATV use of forests and BLM is rapidly increasing with the result that wildlife have no refuge—they can no longer be remote from humans who will pursue them on ATVs and snowmobiles. Indeed, Wilkinson raises the question whether big environmental groups that criticize extractive industries are failing to “call out” the impacts of recreation and expensive homes because of the sensitivity of this issue to local economies and big donors to the organizations. What is the solution? Is there a solution? The only solution I see is for a significant portion of the population to follow Edward O. Wilson’s setting aside 50 percent of the Earth as “permanent preserve undisturbed by man.” I think that there is likelihood of an increasing portion of the population—the type of people who think about building a beautiful big home in the GYE—of eventually seeing that the wildness and wildlife they are hoping to enjoy are being destroyed by development. It may take disasters—something akin to the loss of the passenger pigeon—to bring the loss of wildness home to influential who can make a difference. But the big threat is that such a changing consciousness may only come after we have lost much of the ecosystem. Check out Todd Wilkinson’s article Unnatural Disaster: Will America’s Most Iconic Wild Ecosystem Be Lost To A Tidal Wave Of People? http://mountainjournal.org/the-wildest-ecosystem-in-america-faces-death-by-too-many-people and Edward O. Wilson’s idea of preserving half the Earth at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/science/e-o-wilson-half-earth-biodiversity.html?mcubz=3&_r=0
During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.