Focusing On What Is Important In Conservation: Vegetation / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

whatcom hawk

Monday, March 28, 2016  Wendy Harris  ACTION

Bold Visions is a small conservation organization in New Mexico that embodies the heart and soul of the old conservation movement, when people were willing to put their lives on the line to save the planet. And recently, they asked some important questions for everyone to consider.

Are we going in the right direction and using the right approach? What we are doing now is not working, or not working enough.

My 2 cents, which I voice often, is that we are too focused on climate change as the be all, end all of the issue. When we focus on climate change as exclusively a fossil fuel concern, we lose our connection to the the living earth, the interconnection of ecosystems, and the dependence we have not only on energy and water, but on vegetation and wildlife.

This is one reason I am grateful to our tribal friends. Not only are they the front line of defense against fossil fuel extraction and development, but they understand how this is all connected to the earth that sustains all life, and they help us remain grounded and connected to the land, air, water and wildlife.

And personally, after a two year focus on county critical areas, I have learned to understand and appreciate the importance of vegetation. Not just the large, majestic forest, but the shrubbery and native grasses, the open spaces and the riparian zones. It is vegetation that plays a key role in protecting the functions and values of every one of our critical areas. I hope that is a message that I can carry forward to our county council through this comp. plan and CAO update, but I will need your help to do this.

We can start by asking the planning commission and the council to protect vegetated buffers and to enforce the GMA requirement to identify and protect habitat corridors. This is something that neither the cities or county has yet done. Most recently, the staff advised the planning commission that it could not provide a definition of “habitat corridor” because it was too complex and technical to understand. Please write the council and planning commission and state that habitat corridors are vegetated buffers that allow animals to move between the habitat patches that development has been allowed to fragment, and that we must prevent additional fragmentation and protect existing habitat corridors and build new ones where they are needed.

Something as simple as ensuring adequately sized and vegetated buffers can make a huge difference in the health and integrity of our local ecosystems. And we need to protect rare and unique plants and habitat by identifying these things and ensuring that here is never any development that occurs on these locations. This includes things like caves, and high cliffs over the waters edge, and forested wetlands. And right now is the time we can speak up and make a difference.

Read Wendy’s post in the Whatcom Hawk Facebook group here.

Here is the email address for the  Whatcom County Council:

Here is the email address for the Whatcom County Planning Commission:

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