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Beware of Those Noxious Wildlife Corridors

The June/July issue of National Wildlife, a publication of the National Wildlife Federation, contains a piece entitled "Corridors" written by Jessica Snyder Sachs. Ms. Sachs, incidentally, is a New York City journalist.

Before plunging into a review of this article, some background into the so-called corridors is in order. According to Merriam-Webster a corridor is a very narrow strip of land, especially through foreign-held territory. This term might then be very appropriate considering its origin in the wildlife context. These avenues are for the preferred and more fitting wild creatures, while the adjacent lands belong to the enemy human beings. This may sound rather far-fetched, until one goes back in history.

Cores, buffers, and, yes, corridors were the creation of some of the most radical elements of the politically-correct environmental movement. This crystallized at a 1993 Society of Conservation Biologists meeting where Reed Noss introduced the Wildlands Project, which was designed to protect North American biodiversity. It called for the locking up of one-half of the entire continent. The idea was so attractive that Bruce Babbitt and George Frampton attempted to push a scaled-down version through Congress.

The Wildlands Project, the self-appointed saviors of Planet Earth is still very much alive. It must be noted that there are some connections with the Cenozoic Society, Earth First, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, and even the writings of the Unabomber suggest a relationship. All of these "noble" organizations and individuals demonstrate a marked disdain for people, individual freedom, free enterprise, and probably most traditional American values.

Obviously, as the article in question clearly shows, many of these radical views have been successfully foisted on the general public, many college and university professors, and fish and wildlife agencies throughout the United States and Canada. The Wildlands Project is to be applauded for its success, even though against obviously weak opponents, but their motives qualify them for exile, to say the least.

Back to the article. It begins with a Forest Service biologist patrolling the sandy roads of northern Florida's remote Pinhook Swamp. Reference is made to the undesirable conditions produced by 150 years of logging, draining, and machine planting. It is apparent that he does not care for such. He desires to bring back a pre-European ecosystem of blackwater cypress swamp dotted with flatwoods of longleaf pine and burn-resistant grasses. He envisions "a hundred years from now being able to drop a minnow at the top of Okefenokee Swamp and see it swim all the way to me and keep on going." This is all very romantic and indeed quite a challenge, but who is asking for this, what are the problems and needs, and how about cost to benefits?

For some reason or other it seems to bother the devil out of the powers to be that there is a disconnect, in respect to federal ownership between Okefenokee and the Osceola National Forest. What were the real, not imagined, problems with the ownership pattern that existed? It is stated that the swamp forms a perfect puzzle piece. Maybe this is justification enough. A Wildlife Federation official notes that acquisition will give us the largest protected wildlife corridor east of the Mississippi. Surely, there will be others who cherish the idea of winning the contest.

The black bear enters the scenario. The notion is presented that the Pinhook acquisition is needed to provide a vital travel route for this critter and that the Osceola Forest is too small to sustain them. This has the appearance of nonsense. Has not the black bear been successfully existing for years on the three tracts in question and many square miles in the surrounding area for many, many years. And, of course, it must be mentioned that the Florida bear is considered threatened. It is the same creature that is found in many other states and Canada, and somebody probably called it a subspecies because it is smaller, as is the case with most species when one goes from the North Pole toward the equator.

To add to the nonsense it is said that in its travels it avoids towns and highways. The truth is that black bears adjust all too well to man's activities. Take the relatively small bear range of the Catskill Peaks about 70 miles from New York City. Bears thrive there, and sustain their populations despite annual hunting season harvests. These bears cross all highways and frequent many villages, where they often stick their noses where they do not belong (the Earth First people might object to this statement). Let us be honest.

The Forest Service biologist is said to be more excited about connecting populations of less charismatic species. A word of caution. Is this the type of descriptive term a scientist should use when referring to bears and others? Charisma is a personal quality of leadership arousing popular loyalty or enthusiasm. This may suggest that this biologist may be far too close to his subjects and may then lose his objectivity. Caution must be exercised.

Then there is the nearby corridor, probably drawn with a magic marker on a shaky basis, that has a bottleneck because it runs through Macon. Destruction of the city would be a minor expense for such a noble undertaking. And then there is mention of an urban recreational greenway. What a wonderful way to promote conflicts between wildlife and city dwellers. The horror stories in Cook County, Illinois come to mind. It is noted that once environmental activists concentrated on protecting isolated parcels of prime habitat, but now there is a new drive for connectivity. Of course, this is a more effective way to get power, control people's lives, and further other aspects of the liberal agenda. As they say, there is something intuitively appealing.

Probably the most shocking example of corridor concocting by pseudoscientists with magic markers is California. A map of the state is presented showing more than 300 corridors, appropriately in red. Obviously, the idea has caught on like wildfire. God knows what is on these people's mind. The time is long overdue for all these highly questionable activities to be subjected to extremely intensive scrutiny. They are highly suspect and the fate of traditional American values and life are at great risk. America must wake up.

Nate Dickinson
August 16, 2002

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