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Conservation in 2016: Are We Asking the Right Questions?

Stephen Capra

There is an unspoken rule in conservation, and it goes like this: Never criticize the movement. When you look at the modern conservation movement, the roster has evolved into groups that litigate, grassroots organizations, sportsmen groups and a mix of animal focused and wildlife organizations.

The concept (and it is sound,) is that we are far stronger working together than internally fighting. But here’s a question-If all of this is working so well, why then is the planet dying?

It seems that perhaps the time has come for the conservation community to take a harder look at itself and begin to question many of the models we have used to gain success and ask: Are we doing enough?

From Climate change to the loss of habitat and species, we have seen an explosion of destruction on our planet in the past thirty years, a time when the conservation community went from a volunteer operation to a full-time field of employment. In that time we have protected some amazing landscapes, sections of oceans and wildlife that was on the brink.

Yet, we have also seen huge swaths of land destroyed for agriculture, fracking became a new word in our vernacular, coral reefs are dying and our oceans are becoming a place of plastic refuse. Species are disappearing and we cannot get Republicans to even admit there is human caused climate change.

So is it the environmental communities fault? Is there anything else that could be done? The answer it seems to us is that there is perhaps a better path. It begins with the foundation of our cause- protecting our planet.

We have evolved from a movement that was built on dynamic personalities, the Rachael Carson-David Brower-Dave Foreman archetype. These leaders were not content with huge compromise, they wanted to inform and demand justice for the planet. They have been replaced by a movement that seeks compromise, professionalism, and litigation as a means for sustaining workers, benefits and long-term growth like any corporate undertaking.

The concept of “movement” has been replaced by the concept of Me. It is about making my life good, while doing a job, which others see as noble, but doing so without the passion and spirit that once existed in our fight to save the planet.

Conservation like any business is experiencing growing pains and is consumed by too many “consultants” and not enough vision. Here are a few questions worth asking:

  • Rather than building small environmental empires, would we be better off using a co-op model for the movement that would allow more resources to be spread across a greater area, with more local input?

  • Is it in our best interest to have cozy relationships with elected officials, or would we be better off, removing ourselves from the lobbying game and simply organize communities and people and create political pressure via honest and direct communication.

  • Is litigation the best means or only means of victory?

  • Do we need, as we have in conservation, layers of people working on the same issue, with some being payed far more than others because of their personal relationships with foundations?

  • Understanding the planet is in serious jeopardy, what is the coordinated plan for protecting it that encompasses population, fossil fuels, ocean protection, climate action, endangered species and large protected areas?

  • How do we awaken a public that seems lost in sports, the internet and creating their personal fortune?

  • How do we truly make our movement inclusive and reflective of a nation of immigrants, not a wealthy, white enclave?

  • How do we deal with the reality that the environment is global and we must make progress not just in the US, but internationally and to do so we must lead by example?

There are perhaps another 50 questions that could be raised, but that is difficult when you work for a cause that shuns questioning its basic operating premise. Our goal is not to undermine the conservation community, but rather to demand more of ourselves, to constantly work to improve how we operate and how we can once again, become more of a movement for the planet.

We don’t have much more time for the status quo: the planet needs our help. We have a responsibility to be great, not just okay. We need like any business to understand how we can be the most effective and how we can work towards a sustainability and respect for all creatures and environments, and for the people that define this place we call home-earth.

That makes questioning ourselves and our objectives a moral imperative.

We did a final letter count overnight: our Supporters sent OVER 300 LETTERS to Martin Heinrich's office supporting Ah-shi-sle-pah!
Ah-shi-sle-pah is on its way to being Wilderness!

Victory for Ah-shi-sle-pah!

After this week, it looks like they may start calling Bold Visions 'The Little Group That Could!'  On the heels of our victory in the Atlantic, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and Senator Martin Heinrich have introduced Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness Bills into the U.S. House and Senate! This action is the ultimate culmination of Bold Visions Conservation's two years of work, which began with some scribbling on map to make a rough outline of this new, (now introduced!) National Wilderness Area.

We filmed Ah-shi-sle-pah to demonstrate its raw beauty, worked to craft the strongest possible proposed legislation, traveled to Washington twice to meet with New Mexico's congressional delegation and with officials at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, gained the support of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, pushed through a memorial in the New Mexico State Senate, as well as a Letter of Support in the House of Representatives.

We also got you excited about this uniquely beautiful land! Thank YOU!

Our goal to end the proposed coal lease that was transferred to Wyoming was unfortunately quashed; unfortunately, the power of Big Coal is still bigger than any of us. Still, we are very pleased to announce that this week legislation has been introduced by Senator Heinrich, as S.2683 and Congressman Lujan as H.R.1820. These bills will finally protect about 10,000 acres of land, including the entirety of the Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness Study area, forever!

This stunning area of badlands and wildness has long deserved the protection these bills offer. While we would have liked more lands protected as a National Conservation Area, but with the complexities of the existing coal lease, Navajo-Hopi Settlement land and the preexisting oil and gas leases, that goal was incredibly difficult to incorporate into legislation.

We are thrilled by the introduction of this important legislation and will support our delegation's efforts to see it passed and signed by President Obama!

Please take a moment and call or email the people who made this legislation possible: let them know you support the new Ah-shi-sle-pah Wilderness and thank them for making protection of natural wilderness a priority!

New Mexico State Representative Wonda Johnson:

New Mexico State Senator Benny Shendo:
(505) 883-2564,

U.S. Representative Ben Ray Lujan: (202) 225-6190

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich: (202) 224-5521

When H.R. 2406 passed the House, we thought the outcry from major conservation groups would be deafening. So far, you can hear the crickets chirping. Visit our new page dedicated to defeating H.R. 2406, the most dangerous anti-nature, anti-wildlife, anti-people legislation in modern history!

On this page you can read H.R.2406 and Sign a Petition to Fight H.R.2406, Watch videos on the implications of H.R. 2406 and Read and/or Contribute Information or Commentary to our Blog.
When you give to big environmental group, it falls into a big,
general fund. When you donate to Bold Visions, we appreciate
every penny, and every penny is spoken for, long before it arrives!

Copyright © 2016 Bold Visions Conservation, All rights reserved.

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