Monday, August 26, 2013

Environmental History Timeline September 3, 1964

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law The Wilderness Act of 1964

Next year, September 3, 2014 is the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Bill was first introduced to the Senate by Minnesota's Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1956. Post war American growth had made new inroads deep into wild spaces. Concern grew as careless use and exploitation spread through America's remaining pristine wilderness areas.

The 88th Congress, the "conservation congress," passed the Wilderness Act establishing a Wilderness Preservation System with an initial 9 million acres set aside to secure the ecological and social benefits of an enduring wilderness resource for the American people.
benefits of an enduring wilderness resource to the American people. - See more at: of  for future generations a continuing resource of wilderness.

LBJ signs Wilderness Act of 1964 into law concluding an eight year debate, credits 88th Congress, labeled "conservation congress".

Excerpt from Remarks Upon Signing the Wilderness Bill and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Bill.

"Anyone that objectively studies the record of the 88th Congress I think would have to conclude that another historic era has begun this year. If the 88th had not earned already so many honorable titles, such as the education Congress, the health Congress, the full prosperity Congress, it would be remembered as the conservation Congress, because in addition to the measures before me this morning, Congress has wisely this year passed the Ozark Rivers National Riverway bill, which I signed last week; the Fire Island National Seashore bill, which is awaiting action; the Canyonlands National Park legislation, which I expect to sign shortly, creating our first new national park on this continent in 17 years. But Congress has done even more. Action has been taken to keep our air pure and our water safe and our food free from pesticides; to protect our wildlife; to conserve our precious water resources. No single Congress in my memory has done so much to keep America as a good and wholesome and beautiful place to live. I think it is significant that these steps have broad support not just from the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party, both parties in the Congress. For example, the wilderness bill has been before the Congress since 1957, but it passed this year 73 to 12 in the Senate, and 373 to 1 in the House. So it seems to me that this reflects a new and a strong national consensus to look ahead, and, more than that, to plan ahead; better still, to move ahead. We know that America cannot be made strong by leadership which reacts only to the needs or the irritations or the frustrations of the moment. True leadership must provide for the next decade and not merely the next day. That is the kind of leadership that this Congress is providing."
Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks Upon Signing the Wilderness Bill and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Bill.," September 3, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Freshwater wonders, Pectinatella

Moss animals adrift.

Magnificent bryozoan Pectinatella magnifica Hoover Reservoir

A quiet stroll and careful observing along the suspended boardwalk over the shallow north extremity of Hoover Reservoir at Galena, Ohio on a calm-water day allows discovery of water life below the surface. More than Asian carp and bluegill ripple the mirrored surface. Periscoping softshelled turtles break the surface with the just the tips of their pointy snouts. Swimming water snakes spread serpentine ripples. And, most interesting, magnificent bryozoans, moss animals, bob near the shoreline and are seen attached to debris under the surface.

Magnificent bryozoan Pectinatella magnifica is native to North America east of the Mississippi River. They spread mysteriously, probably hitching rides on ducks' feet and on other waterfowl. They appear following warm weather as their plankton food, tiny free floating plants and animals, become abundant in the water column.

Magnificent bryozoans are colonial moss animals forming gelatinous masses attached to rooted plants and heavy debris under water, but larger masses break loose and bob in ripples as they move with the wind, collecting along leeward shores. The surface of a mass supports multitudes of tiny filter feeding animals called zooids. Clusters of animals can be seen in closeup images, a microscope is needed to see an individual zooid.

Pectinatella mass found forming on a holdfast, a flooded sapling.

Pectinatella closeup

Friday, August 23, 2013

Environmental History Timeline, December 3, 1960

The "Wilderness Letter" and America's "Geography of Hope"

Writer, conservationist, Wallace Stegner submits the "Wilderness Letter," written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, and later reproduced in his "Wilderness Idea," in The Sound of Mountain Water (1969).  Stegner's argument for wilderness as a natural resource and more is often credited with inspiring passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. A wilderness bill had been before Congress for eight years. Stegner's words were timely and struck a cord with the 88th Congress. Stegner's letter was used to introduce the Wilderness Act which establishes the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Minnesota wilderness, Boundary Waters 2008
West Virginia Wilderness 2005

Stegner's inspiration resulted in preservation of what Stegner called, America's "Geography of Hope," America's wilderness.

Stegner wrote,

"Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it."

The full letter is reproduced at the Wilderness Society website.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Forest values, more than dollars makes sense

Is a mature public forest a savings bond at maturation, ready to cash out for spending money? Is a public forest more valuable than its present cash value?  Do we need intact mature public forest lands held inviolate?

Shawnee State Forest, Ohio's "Little Smokies"

Consider the following typology of forest values definitions. You decide.

Forest values:

Aesthetic value--Valuing forest for enjoying scenery, sights, sounds, smells, etc.

Recreation value--Valuing forest because it provides a place for enjoyable outdoor recreation activities.

Learning value--Valuing forest because in forest we learn about the environment through scientific observation or experimentation.

Life sustaining value--Valuing forest because it helps produce, preserve, clean, and renew air, soil, and water.

Climate mitigation value--Valuing forest because it helps mitigate climate change by removing and sequestering atmospheric carbon.

Biological diversity value--Valuing forest because it conserves genetic diversity, species diversity, and biological community diversity.

Wildlife conservation value--Valuing forest because it provides a variety of fish, game and non-game wildlife, insect life, and plant life, etc.

Economic value--Valuing forest because it provides timber, alternative forest products, fisheries, minerals, or tourism opportunities such as amenities and services including outfitting and guiding services.

Spiritual value--Valuing forest because it is a sacred, religious, or spiritually special place, or inspires feelings of reverence and respect for nature.

Intrinsic value--Valuing forest in and of itself for its existence, no matter what other people think about forest.

Historic value--Valuing forest because it holds places and things of human and natural history that matter to individuals, peoples, or nations.

Future value--Valuing forest because it will allow future generations to know and experience forest as it is at present.

Subsistence value--Valuing forest because it provides necessary food and supplies to sustain subsisting families.

Therapeutic value--Valuing forest because it inspires physical and mental renewal contributing to happiness.

Cultural value--Valuing forest because it is a place to continue and pass down to future generations wisdom and knowledge, traditions, and a way of life sustained by ancestors to the present generation.

The typology presented is modified from Brown, Gregory and Patrick Reed 2000. Validation of a Forest Values Typology for use in National Forest Planning. Forest Science 46(2).