CAN CULTURAL VALUES TRUMP EVOLUTIONARY PROCESSES?
The subject of “invasive species” is dealt with variously by different agencies within our government. So, too, are other natural processes such as fire, flood, erosion, deposition. The federal bureaucracy at times believes these are good and natural occurrences. At other times they abhor the events or circumstances and spend tax money to “combat” the natural occurrences.
The choices that determine what to do are cultural. Some are aesthetic, some economic, some sentimental. Whatever the case may be, there is usually very little recognition that change is the constant. Preservation is the anomaly.
Below are annotated references to review and gain some perspective about the various perceptions and actions of our governmental agencies as they attempt to deal with change.
Exotic Vegetation Management in Yellowstone National Park (PDF.) The muddled rationale for dealing with plants. Some are killed, some are ignored, some are encouraged to feed elk. This is a thinly disguised plea for more money to continue the futility.
Project Summary: This is how your money is spent. This is the way to survive in the academic world. Define a nearly impossible problem and then continue to get grants to support yourself while pretending to solve the problem.
Yellowstone: A Study in the Vital Roles of Forest Fires. From the “Forest Voice” comes an appreciation of the dynamics of change in the environment. The ecology of the new growth is put into perspective.
Six Years After: A blurry-eyed recounting of the way we ought to view fires – if only they didn’t kill so many pretty trees.
Fire Ecology: A pretty good synopsis from the Greater Yellowstone Science Learning Center. Sadly the lessons of fire ecology have not been incorporated into vegitation perspectives.
MSU Tip Sheet: Insight into the amount of money spent by Yellowstone National Park. The support for research is a budget item that needs to be adjusted.
Biodiversity: A view from Glacier National Park. These folks seem to understand – don’t they talk to the folks in Yellowstone? Cogent quote: “No one is sure how this global warming will affect regional climate and weather patterns or how long it will take for the effects to be seen, but most agree that impacts will include a rearrangement of temperature and precipitation patterns across the globe, a rearrangement of the distributions of plants and animals, rising sea levels, and potentially critical stress on the major agricultural systems that currently feed the world’s growing human populations.
Global warming may seriously affect our ability to protect the species and habitats that are now encompassed by national parks, forests, wilderness areas, and other nature reserves. Many species in Glacier may be particularly sensitive to climate change; for this reason, and because of Glacier’s relatively pristine conditions, the park will likely become an important site for global warming research in the future.”
Glaciers Disappear: Before and after pictures of the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park. Documentation of change that is hard to escape. Sad to some; normal to others.
The Big Drip: The disappearing glaciers. Activist view of global warming and its effects: fish, forest, fire, water, etc.
Modeled Climate-Induced Glacier Change in Glacier National Park, 1850-2100: USGS Global Climate Research Change Center. This is it folks. Unvarnished model of the happenings in Glacier National Park.
Climate Change and Tourism in the Mountain Regions of North America (PDF): Aha, the economics of environmental change. Accept it, watch it, embrace it, exploit it.
Role Of Fire In Alaska: USFWS perspective. Amazingly complete and extensive exploration of fires. This should have been must reading for the NPS.
Center for Invasive Plant Management (CIPM): The place where economic thinking produces the fantasy that “overcoming” nature is more viable than “adapting” to nature.
The CIPM On-Line Textbook / Table of Contents: Here are the techniques for continuous employment. Scare tactics abound. Words like “Weeds,” “Threat,” “Impact,” “Cost.” The other perspective is that plants and animals, (including humans,) are constantly adapting to changing conditions.
— Chapter 1: Invasive Plant Impacts
— Chapter 2: Plant Population Biology and the Invasion Process
— Chapter 3: Plant Invasion & Succession
— Chapter 4: Inventory
— Chapter 5: Monitoring of Non-Indigenous Plant Species
— Chapter 6: Yellowstone: An Inventory Case Study
— Chapter 7: Weed Management After Fire
— Chapter 8: Invasive Plant Prevention
— Chapter 9: Weed Management Areas
It’s a matter of perspective. The Euro-Americans moving west called themselves pioneers and homesteaders. The Native Americans called them invaders and white devils. The process of change can easily be interpreted in social, cultural, emotional, and economic terms. It can’t be stopped – or reversed!