Plan pushes “Rewilding the American West” — Why stop at the West?


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A group of academics and environmentalists is proposing reintroducing wolves, beavers, and a host of other animal and plant species on broad swaths of federal land in the West, touting it as a way to mitigate drought, wildfires, and, of course, climate change.

“Beyond concerns for human survival and flourishing, a principled commitment to the natural world and a sense of moral urgency underpins the motivation for our proposal,” the authors write. Their study, “Rewilding the American West,’ was inspired by the Biden White House’s “30×30 Plan,” a scheme to “protect” “at least” 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030.

“In general, rewilding aims to reestablish vital ecological processes that can involve removing troublesome nonnative species and restoring key native species,” the study says. “Our rewilding call is grounded in ecological science and is necessary regardless of changing political winds.”

Under the plan, tens of thousands of square miles of public land in the West would be targeted for rewilding, and efforts would include reintroducing 92 threatened and endangered species: five amphibians, five birds, two crustaceans, 22 fish, 39 flowering plants, five insects, 11 mammals, one reptile, and two snail species. The study identifies 11 large-scale reserves where species would be dispersed in the West, dubbing these areas “Western Rewilding Networks.”

Cattle ranchers who have grazing allotments on federal land may come to see themselves as the “troublesome nonnative species” who must be removed.

“Federal lands with managed livestock allotments often have various ecological impacts because of the multiple direct and indirect effects of these introduced large herbivores,” the study alleges. “For example, in many areas livestock grazing causes stream and wetland degradation, affects fire regimes, and inhibits the regeneration of woody species, especially willow.”

Make Way for the Wolves

As reported by the Western Livestock Journal (Sept. 11), the plan would reduce livestock grazing allotments on federal land by 29 percent, which equates to more than 17,000 square miles. Lest the ranchers miss the message, the plan calls for reintroducing grey wolves into the Western Rewilding Network. As the study’s authors know only too well, the hungry wolves would pay no attention to boundaries separating public and private land and would be delighted to dine on the cattlemen’s livestock, forcing many ranchers to give up and sell their land to the federal government.

Sarah McMillan, conservation director for WildEarth Guardians, could barely contain her enthusiasm for the study’s recommendations.

“With logging, mining, oil and gas drilling, and livestock grazing remaining a significant threat to federal public lands, we must stop this endless resource exploitation and start conserving, reconnecting, and restoring at a landscape scale,” she said. Her statement notably excluded any mention of ecological harm coming from giant wind farms and solar arrays on federal lands. And her unflattering reference to mining doesn’t bode well for EV manufacturers hoping to extract domestic lithium, nickel, rare earths, and other minerals used in batteries for EVs and renewable energy storage as well as wind turbines and solar panels.

“Our plan represents a historic opportunity to rewild significant portions of the American West that could serve as an inspiring model for other regions and would ensure our natural heritage remains in tact for future generations,” the study concludes.

Go Big

If the authors of the study were really as concerned about the state of the natural world as they claim, they wouldn’t merely suggest that their rewilding plan be adopted in other regions, they would demand it.

They could begin by promoting a rewilding of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This would entail taking the wrecking ball to all the skyscrapers – both office buildings and residential properties with pent houses – as well as ripping up the streets, closing the subway, and tearing down all the bridges. In a Phase 2, the same thing could be done to the Upper West Side, with today’s Central Park serving as a wildlife corridor between the two, creating the Big Apple’s own Rewilding Network. Sure, millions of people would have to be uprooted and resettled. But black bears, wolves, and cougars would reoccupy the habitat of their ancestors and would be far less dangerous than many of the creatures roaming the city’s streets today.

None of this is without precedent. Thousands of people were summarily driven off their land in Appalachia to make way for the Shenandoah National Park (1935) and Great Smokey Mountains National Park (1940). If these rural people could be dispossessed and expelled back then, why not today’s urban dwellers?

“Equity” is all the rage among today’s woke. Green activists, including those in the Biden administration, are among the most woke of all and should welcome the prospect of rewilding the whole country.

  • Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.

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