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Change IS coming. WE can make it GOOD.

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The Coming Climate Exodus: What We’re Doing to Help Wildlife’s New Migration by Peter Pearsall and Cecilia Garza – Y ES! Magazine

The Coming Climate Exodus: What Were Doing to Help Wildlifes New Migration

As climate change forces species to head for cooler climates, biologists are using new tools and partnerships to make sure we helpand don’t hindertheir flight.
by Peter Pearsall, Cecilia Garza
posted Mar 01, 2013

Wind River Valley Corridor in Yellowstone National Park

Wind River Valley in Yellowstone National Park is a wildlife corridor used by bighorn sheep. Photo copyright Jill Pangman.

For black bears, Floridas State Road 46 is one of the deadliest motorways in the United States. It winds east-west for some 50 miles, skirting Seminole State Forest, one of the state’s key bear habitats. Since the year 2000, more than 100 bears were killed each year in collisions on Florida roads like this one, and for the last two decades around 80 percent of total bear deaths in the state came as a result of such accidents.

These deaths are a tragic outcome of what conservation biologists call fragmentation, which occurs when a species habitat is cut into small pieces by human infrastructure like roads and developments. Fragmented populations are vulnerable to threats including starvation, genetic isolation, and local extinction. If a fragmented population of bears cant follow seasonally available food, and cant deepen their gene pool with new mates, their chances of long-term survival are slim.

Conservationists now have an unexpected set of collaborators: the employees of state and federal transportation agencies.

Luckily, bears that want to cross State Road 46 are better off today, because it now features an underpass designed specifically with their needs in mind. Passageways like this one, known as wildlife corridors, connect fragmented habitats. They helped to hasten the removal of the black bear from Floridas endangered species list in 2012.

For more than 20 years, wildlife corridors have been among the tools conservationists used to make sure all sorts of animals were able to move around in search of food, mates, and territory. But today, climate change is forcing these specialists to change the way wildlife corridors are designed. As warming accelerates, animals and plants are starting to change the way they travel, generally moving north or to higher elevations in search of the cooler temperatures theyre used to.

Will our roads and buildings stand in the way of this exodus? New partnerships and tools suggest that were at least doing our best to make sure they dont.

New policies make an old enemy into a friend

The first piece of good news is that conservationists are no longer working alone. Legislation has given them a new and unexpected set of collaborators: the employees of state and federal transportation agencies. These are the same people who, as designers of roads and bridges, used to be the chief agents of fragmentation. But a few key pieces of law seem to have suddenly changed that.

In 2001, federal legislation created a State Wildlife Grant, which set aside money to help protect animal species that were rare, endangered, or whose numbers were simply unknown. Four years later, the passage of the 2005 Transportation Bill required planners seeking federal funding for roads and public transportation to consult with their local wildlife agencies early in the planning process. The bill put wildlife managers in partnership with transportation workers for the first time.

Different species have different requirements, so the goal is to find the habitat where the different species preferences overlap.

A third piece of legislation came in 2008, with the founding of the Western Governors Wildlife Council. Created to coordinate conservation efforts across 19 states as well as three U.S.-administered Pacific islands, the council works to identify crucial habitats and to insure that conservation is incorporated into every type of development. The council features a special initiative on wildlife corridors that makes sure that the designs make sense across state lines.

These three projects put biologists and planners on the same team in a way that made conservation a lot easier to do.

Black bear crossing road

A black bear crosses a busy road in Alberta, Canada. Photo by KegRiver.

It’s amazing that this one sentence in a thousand-page document [the Transportation
Bill of 2005] changed the way [transportation planners] did business, said Dr. Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University, one of the leading experts on wildlife corridors.

But finding accord between conservation and urban planning can be a tricky business, said Kelly McAllister, wildlife biologist at the Washington State Department of Transportation. In Washington, finding a species with a fixed migration route is almost unheard of, he said. You start mapping out areas of suitable habitat across a broad landscape, looking for connectivity between heavily developed areas and agricultural areas. Before you know it, the entire state becomes suitable habitat.

The metaphor we like to use is conserve the stage, instead of the actors.

The challenge, said McAllister, is giving wildlife managers sufficiently protected, well-defined tracts of land to work with. Different species have different requirements, so the goal is to find the habitat where the different species preferences overlap.

Its often difficult, McAllister said, for scientists to come to an agreement with the Department of Transportation, which is the largest land developer in the state. But were definitely working together on this, he says.

Beier calls it nothing less than a transformation of the role of transportation agencies, which until then had been the biggest agents of fragmentation. After the 2005 Transportation Bill, suddenly they became part of the solution.

New tools, new challenges

Another way that conservationists have responded to the new complexity brought on by climate change is by developing and using new tools, including GIS (global information system) mapping software. With GIS-based programs, specialists can zero in on specific aspects of a topographical map by identifying desired featuressuch as elevation, light, and soil typeand tuning out the rest.

Out of this way of seeing comes the idea of land facets, which are discrete parcels of land that offer specific and relatively permanent types of habitat to wildlife. For instance, high-elevation north-facing slopes with rocky soils is a land facet, one favored by bighorn sheep. Low-elevation flats with thick soils is another, which pronghorn antelope prefer. The aim is to define wildlife corridors based on long-lasting geographical features, aspects of the landscape that arent liable to change with rising temperatures.

As warming accelerates, animals and plants are starting to change the way they travel. Will our roads and buildings stand in the way of this exodus?

A hundred years from now, a stand of ponderosa pine might become a stand of juniper as things heat up, said Jeff Jenness, a developer of the GIS-based software that conservationists and planners use to identify land facets. But the hill under those trees will largely remain the same. By identifying land facets, we can sort of predict this change and maintain an environment that supports a number of species.

Land facets tend to harbor predictable assemblages of species, so creating a corridor that includes different kinds of facets should provide animals with the geographic diversity they need to survive, Jenness said.

The metaphor we like to use is conserve the stage, instead of the actors, adds Beier. Or, if you like sports, conserve the field, instead of the players.

While older methods concentrated on the specific needs of so-called focal speciesthreatened or endangered species singled out for conservationapproaches based on land facets seek to support a broad swath of organisms by focusing first on the land.

As climate change raises sea levels, changes temperatures, and increases the likelihood of catastrophes like droughts and storms, some species will almost inevitably be lost. At the same time, conservation biologists are doing their best to make sure that plants and animals can find safe passage to cooler climates. With any luck, these living things will be around to join us as we adapt to a changing climate.


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Living Compassion Weekly Tips Series – Week 32

I don’t believe I have ever posted an ad for anything before, but this one is part of the Living Compassion tip series this time and I very much want to share NVC with as many as possible. I do not yet own any of these books, but for those like myself who cannot get to in person NVC trainings they may be the very best way to get more in depth understanding of the processes used.

“I want to take my time: to come from an energy I choose rather than one I’ve been programmed to come from.”

– Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication:
A Language of Life

Living Compassion Tip — Week 32

“If You Woke Up Breathing, Congratulations!
You Have Another Chance.”

This quote from Andrea Boydston points to one more basic human need, physical nurturance. This category encompasses the corporal requirements for the human body such as: air, food, movement, protection from life-threatening forms of life (viruses, etc.), rest, sexual expression, shelter, touch and water.

We ask a lot of our bodies. At times we limit some of these basic needs because of circumstances, beliefs or unconscious actions. But as the quote states, “If you woke up breathing – you have another chance.”

Along the course of life there will be reasons why all of these physical needs might not be nurtured. Yet at each turn in the road, you can ask yourself, “Under my present circumstances, am I considering the needs of my body? Am I giving my body what it needs at this time?”

Physical nurturance is the foundation upon which you can build a strong YOU to explore and enrich the other NVC basic human needs. A strong YOU opens up the possibility of more compassionate and life-giving relationships.


Mindful Practice for the Week

This week, every day you wake up breathing, look at it as a chance to understand the needs of your body. Take some time to review the aspects listed above and see if there are changes you can start making to be a stronger YOU! Enjoy your week!


Yes, Improved Communication CAN
Help You Live Your Best Life …

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Please support the people who are doing this work in any way you can, be it calls to legislators, solidarity actions or just prayers and visualizing good outcomes. No matter where you are, Mother Earth is your home and she is crucial to everything.

Earth First! Newswire

Posted from Twin Cities Indymedia

#RLBlockade begins!

On the Red Lake sovereign nation land located in what is today known as northern Minnesota, an occupation has started at a location above the Enbridge-owned pipeline built without permission of the Red Lake Nation in 1949 (hashtag #RLblockade). Already a helicopter from Enbridge briefly landed next to the site (video), near the town of Leonard.

It is expected if the occupation proceeds for three days, the flow of oil – which may include controversial tar sands bitumen extracted from Alberta, Canada – will have to be shut down. The 72-hour countdown has started around roughly 3PM Thursday.

Supporters have been invited onto the site by tribal members to support the blockade, and currently volunteer media from the new UneditedMedia collective, TC Indymedia & [informally] OccupyMN are on site. Internet access appears stable enough for @uneditedcamera to…

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