•  Be Careful What We Wish For—-becoming a green society too often has its unintended pitfalls. 

          Its many important uses propel paper into the forefront of why we must limit its use, and aim to use as much of it in a recycled form as possible. The remnant Boreal Forests in the Northern States, and the larger ones in Canada are rapidly being depleted as they are being felled for making paper pulp. The numerous species of songbirds and both small and large mammals that inhabit these green and beautiful habitats, are losing their homes too rapidly. Many of our so-called winter birds breed in these evergreen coniferous forests, before they migrate here. Species such as Mountain Caribou already severely endangered, are precariously low in numbers in the northern Rockies, and even in Canada, they exist minimally better.

          Is there any reason why paper products pre-designed for throw-a- way use such as paper napkins, tissue paper and toilet paper, should be responsible for the decimation of important forest ecosystems?  Is there any need for glossy tabloid advertisements ad nauseum, to be stuffed inside your newspapers almost daily, and particularly each Sunday?  When you consider the harm we are doing to our ecosystems, along with our exploding population demands, thereby increasing our carbon footprint to colossal proportions, perhaps we too are members of Bigfoot’s family; however we do this at the expense of annihilation of other species.

         Let me give you some current examples of what we are doing wrong in our attempts to become green. There are now thousands of Windmills or wind turbines on our open western lands, which also happen to be the original habitats for members of the Grouse family such as the Greater Sage Grouse and the Sharptailed Grouse. In addition these sagebrush plains where the wind turbines have been installed are also areas of great natural habitat for our Pronghorn antelope, which feed extensively on the leaves of the sagebrush, especially in winter. The windmills are displacing both the grouse and the pronghorn, to the extent that they are diminished in numbers. To add to the problem, cattlemen who lease their grazing rights have also illegally removed sagebrush because their cattle do not eat it! The sagebrush is extremely important for the sage grouse that eat its buds and leaves and also shelter in it; furthermore it is the mainstay diet for pronghorn antelope in the winter. The wind turbines or windmills currently used for creating nonfossil energy sources are unfortunately execution devices for many birds: Raptors because they are flying and looking downward are particularly vulnerable; and thousands of species of songbirds are also being sliced to oblivion, by these turbines, especially during the migration seasons, when these tired migrants are arriving here. Surely in an advanced technology such as ours could engineer them to repel birds from flying into them, instead as acting as bird cuisinarts as one Audubon member terms it. 

    The ultra hedonistic among us, jaded and bored out of their skulls also usurp the wildlands even in winter.  The newer craze is heliskiing, where helicopters can access very remote areas and drop off their fat wallet ski patrons. For forest dwelling mammals such as the Mountain Caribou, the added presence of people in their habitat, is an additional stress factor. For the very scarce wolverine, the largest member of the weasel family, that normally shuns humans; it has forced this wide-ranging mammal to seek even more remote, if prey deficient habitat. This intriguing mammal will be discussed next time.  

    posted to Cedar Street Times on May 21, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, Features


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