The Wildlands Project was founded by Michael Soule, Reed Noss and Dave Foreman to promote a new theory that: a great mass die-off of species is now underway. Their premise is that ecosystems often crash when top predators, particularly the pre-Columbian set of carnivores, are absent. In spite of admitting that this might still be categorized as a hypothesis, they have no qualms about blaming this hypothetical extinction crisis on human-driven activities. Their list of culprits includes mechanized recreation, fire suppression, cutting wood for lumber and firewood, hydroelectric projects and dams, agricultural activity such as irrigation, and urban sprawl.
Noss claims however, that We have an opportunity unique to our generation - to halt mass extinction... In order to accomplish this feat, conservation must be practiced on a truly grand scale.
The Wildlands Project is composed of at least 31 environmental coalitions throughout North America, all working on a specific area with plans to put approximately 50% of the land into wild animal habitat. TWP is explained in the United Nations Global Biodiversity Assessment: This means that representative areas of all major ecosystems in the region need to be reserved, that blocks should be as large as possible, that buffer zones should be established around core areas, and that corridors should connect these areas. This basic design is central to the recently proposed Wildlands Project in the United States (Noss 1992). The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society helped develop TWP, and conservation easments are advocated as an important technique to gain control of private property for such habitat.
TWP evolved out of Earth First! and has the same co-founder - Dave Foreman. In the book, EcoTerror (425-454-7009), Ron Arnold quotes Foreman as saying: It is not enough to preserve the roadless, undeveloped country remaining. We must re-create wilderness in large regions: move out the cars and civilized people, dismantle the roads and dams, reclaim the plowed land and clearcuts, reintroduce extirpated species. This Nature movement has a certain element of Mother Earth and Animals before people belief.
Virtually all of Montana will be encompassed in TWP. The Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative targets the western, mountainous area of the state and the High Plains Ecosystem Recovery Plan engulfs the rest.
Y2Y is a network of over 270 environmental groups, organizations and individuals in the United States and Canada who, according to the Wilderness Society, have dared to dream of a land that is wild, with free-flowing rivers [remove dams] and teeming with wildlife...all the way from Yellowstone to the Yukon. It targets an area 1,990 miles long by 125 to 500 miles wide.
While their literature presents a rosy promise of environmental purity, the underlying threat to basic resource industries, drastic restrictions of access to public lands, and further destruction of private property rights paint a different picture indeed. The Y2Y leadership urges its followers to contact federal, state, and provincial politicians, encouraging them to support large-scale habitat protection initiatives like Y2Y. You might also ask them to enact strong, comprehensive Endangered Species legislation. It also requests that its adherents who live in the Y2Y area Work at the local level to ensure that principles of conservation biology are recognized in current management, planning, and land use decisions. Consequently, certain environmental groups, such as the Sonoran Institute,* have been vigorously doing just that. They promote themselves as being land-use planners and friends of farmers and ranchers, but they are actually in partnership with Y2Y and at least some of their staff are being paid with foundation money specifically under the Y2Y project.
Jonathan Proctor, on the Predator Conservation Alliances web-site explains HPE: predator Conservation Alliance announces the formation of a new coalition to restore the High Plains. After years of haphazard planning, Predator Conservation Alliance and the Ecology Center finally organized and held our first gathering of grassland activists in Bozeman... Fifteen organizations attended, representing local, regional, national and international environmental activists. Our goal was simple yet extremely ambitious: to create a coalition committed to a large-scale, long-term effort to protect and restore all native species, landscapes, ecosystems and ecological processes to the Northern High Plains region.
Our first step was to establish a common vision. We agreed that instead of concentrating on what seems politically possible, we will determine what is biologically necessary to restore the region and then overcome the odds to achieve it.
Examples of what needs to be restored include: large, free-ranging herds of wild bison; other native species now missing from the grasslands, such as grizzlies and wolves; natural fire patterns; healthy, widespread prairie dog colonies...
We identified the possible designation of a new National Monument along the upper Missouri River in central Montana as an immediate opportunity to work together to improve conservation efforts in the Northern High Plains regions... This opportunity only exists while President Clinton is in office.
Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape.
John Muir, Sierra Club founder
Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.
John Davis, Editor of Earth First! Journal
We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, of a free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value - to me - than another human being, or a billion of them.
Dave Graber, biologist with the U.S. National Park Service
(These quotes are from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's The Environmentalists' Little Green Book)
Compiled by The Alternative View, 406-285-3119, firstname.lastname@example.org