Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ways of Change

When there's enough momentum behind it, change can be swift. But this is rare the world over. So I, and others like me, accept that the change we bring about is often slow-coming and incremental. We celebrate small victories for the resources we care about: old growth units dropped from a timber sale; a pristine, backcountry meadow spared from the introduction of livestock; the conversion of a 40,000-acre chunk of forest into a play area for off-highway vehicles halted; and a couple wolves live to roam free another day.

Appreciating the value of these small victories doesn't mean we're not also searching for opportunities to effect change on a bigger scale and seizing those opportunities when they arise. We advocate for permanent protection, of the highest order afforded under our system of laws, for our last remaining roadless country. We demand land management plans, like our regional Blue Mountain Forest Plan revision (which will govern what happens on over 5.5 million acres of public land for the next 20 years), provide connectivity corridors for wide-ranging species to travel between core habitats and adapt to climate change. And sometimes we use aggressive litigation to send a messageloud and clearthat when resource management fails to ensure the protection of our lands, waters, fish and wildlifewhomever's responsible for it, is gonna get a "swift kick in the pants" (to quote my grandma).

We hope that the lawsuit we filed this winter, aimed at requiring the Forest Service to take the requisite hard look at the potentially far-reaching negative impacts of cattle grazing on resources that span over hundreds of thousands of acres of varied terrains and ecosystems, is a wake-up call; a reminder that sometimes slow, incremental change isn't good enough.

At least not when maintaining status quo management practices results in our public lands looking like private feedlots:

And not when our streams that support declining fisheries dependent upon clean, cold water are trampled, eroded, and loaded with sediment:

That's when it's time to answer the call for serious change.

Jennifer Schwartz, Staff Attorney

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