WildEarth Guardians uses grassroots campaigns, administrative processes and the courts to challenge destructive public land management policy and proposals. We closely monitor the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, as well as other state and federal land management agencies for proposals that will harm or destroy the lands, waters and wildlife that we all enjoy and should to pass on to future generations as their natural heritage.
More than 44 million Americans used off-road vehicles in 2007, up from five million in 1972. The rise in popularity of off-highway, motorized vehicles or OHVs is a growing threat to wild public lands, waters and the plants and wildlife that live on those lands. Not only are OHVs a threat to our environment but a threat to the health and safety of people as they rely more and more on these loud machines for “recreating” in nature. Though just a fraction of the users of our wild public lands, OHVs have a far larger impact than others. WildEarth Guardians is working through administrative process, education and organizing campaigns to limit OHV use and impacts of public lands.
One of WildEarth Guardians' priority campaigns is to reform public lands policies regarding wildland fire. Though much more ecologically complex than policy debates acknowledge, fire is a fundamental element in every forest ecosystem in the Southwest.
While the Park Service has long realized the utility of fire, fires and fire policy are now the catalyst for increased logging and changed budget priorities for the U.S. Forest Service, as it claims it can log these forests back to health rather than allow natural processes such as fire to take place.
Until the 1930s, when serious fire suppression efforts began, fire mostly fulfilled its natural role. Historically, fire has burned at various intensities even in ponderosa pine forests depending largely upon climatic cycles. New evidence demonstrates even largefires occurred and are important for allowing a diversity of wildlife and plants in forests.
The uniqueness of Southwestern forest ecosystems, the wildlife they sustain and the abundant clean water they provide are seriously threatened by government fire policy and continued abuse by livestock.
WildEarth Guardians is working to transcend this paradigm of fear-driven fire policy by promoting positive economic and biological values of forests ecosystems. Our forests were born of fire and, just as rainforests need rain, forests need fire’s rejuvenating properties to perpetuate and thrive.
As an acceptable forest management technique, prescribed fires and managed wildland fire must take a prominent role on public lands. But first forest communities must be protected with common-sense safety measures and financial incentives from state and federal governments. WildEarth Guardians knows that we will never fire-proof our forests, but we can fire-proof our communities.
Livestock have done more damage to the Earth than the chainsaw and bulldozer combined. Not only have livestock been around longer than developers, miners, and loggers, but they have grazed nearly everywhere. On public land across the West, millions of non-native livestock (including cattle, sheep, goats and horses) remove and trample vegetation, damage soil, spread invasive weeds, despoil water, deprive native wildlife of forage and shelter, accelerate desertification and even contribute to global warming. Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt has written that livestock grazing “is the most damaging use of public land.”
WildEarth Guardians has endeavored for more than twenty years to expose and reform the federal grazing program. Our recent investigations have publicized the myriad impacts of public lands grazing on western wildlife, examined the negative effects of grazing on fire ecology in ponderosa pine forests, and exposed federal policy that allows grazing permittees to mortgage publicly owned grazing permits for private loans.
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