Caribou Gear

Conservation vs. Environmentalism.

sabin.adams

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I have just been listening to episode 21. Randy and guests made a number of claims to withdraw support for environmentalism as it is not conservation. While I can understand frustration with so called environmental groups trying to promote "no-use" over "wise-use" I think throwing all environmentalism group(s) in as preservationists not to be trusted is short sighted. People forget that the American West is vastly different from the rest of the U.S. In MN we share Randys frustrations with environmental groups fighting for ESA protection of grey wolves, but unlike the west most of the Midwestern states do not have vast tracks of public lands. The rest of our private land is being utilized for the purpose of intensive agriculture or other industries. Much of MN is not pristine wilderness and public lands. The SW portion is nearly all row crop agriculture. Hunters, public lands, wildlife, water and soils have all been depleted because of it. If you had to define environmental groups in MN you would probably say they work to protect all natural resources and not just fighting to remove human's from the resource use. They are not all preservationists disguised as conservationists. If we did not have environmental groups fighting for protection of all natural resources, MN would be in a much worse position for those resources including wildlife.
 

Big Fin

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Obviously, my recent discussions about C versus E have hit some nerves. That is part of the goal. I want to learn more and I hope that others will study it more. No matter what ideology one adheres to, there are big differences in the two ideologies. And neither is absolute. Some people will find parts of one ideology more in line with their personal approach on topic A and maybe the other ideology fits their personal approach on topic B.

Neither is right and neither is wrong. But, one cannot deny they have evolved to be quite different approaches to looking at how humans should participate/spectate in the natural world. They have very different mechanisms by which they implement their efforts. They have a very different approach regarding state/local/national control or oversight. They are as different in as many ways as they are similar.

This not Randy Newberg saying this. Those who have made study of the history of both ideologies are saying this. I would suggest anyone interested in the topic to read the huge amount of study that has been made of the history of the two ideologies and the foundational principles that make them different.

In reading of that history, one will find much agreement that the "Modern Environmental" movement had great support among the conservation community at its start in the 1950s-70s. You will also find much agreement that in the 1980's, the Modern Environmental movement was identified with some actions and organizations that gave the terms environmentalist/environmentalism a negative connotation in the minds of many Americans. Not long after that, you will read about efforts by the Environmental community to shed that baggage; a rebranding effort that started in the 1990's.

A strong internal campaign was started to call the movement Conservation, when much of the activity and many of the principles advocated are those of Environmentalism. Anyone doubting that history, you can quickly do your own experiment. Use the term Environmentalism/ist in front of those groups who have the root word "environment" in their formation documents or their trademark filings or their fund raising requests, and see how long it takes before they try to correct you that they want to be known as Conservationists.

To me, the label a groups uses can be whatever they want. It is the actions and principles that define what identity they align with.

I am glad to see this discussion, as it is very relevant as we go forward. I hope people continue researching the two ideologies. I suspect they will see a huge amount of overlap and and equal amount of difference. And, whether one adheres to C or E or a mix of the two, the discussion will be more valuable if we better understand the two different approaches.
 

BrokenWing

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The blinded religion-like drones that are the voice of the environmentalists I've encountered across this country caused me to turn against them long ago. Their motivations come from the right place. Their execution leaves me reeling. I have lived many places, including MN for 6 years.
 

rideold

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The way I see it preservation is a tool as is conservation. They both have a time and a place. I think we risk much by categorizing people as one of those tools.
 

JoseCuervo

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The way I see it preservation is a tool as is conservation. They both have a time and a place. I think we risk much by categorizing people as one of those tools.

Agreed.

Having to throw labels on people and groups is a lazy way to think and discuss issues.


I laugh when groups call them selves "conservationists" and pretend to take some high moral ground while supporting Welfare Ranching and taking the money from the industry groups that seek to destroy My Public Lands and ruin future opportunities for my children and my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.


As Fletcher said to the Senator in The Outlaw Josey Wales: " Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."
 

Ben Long

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I think it's risky and overly simplistic to divide wedges between "hunters" and "non-hunters" or "consumptive" v. "non-consumptive" user groups. First off, nature needs defenders these days. We have 310 million Americans and 7 billion people on earth. Too many of those folks would rather spend a day in a shopping mall than outside. The real problem is between people who value nature and those who don't give a damn. I agree with some environmental groups, disagree with others. Agree with some hunters' groups, disagree with others. The important thing is to find the ones that best reflect your values and throw your shoulder to the wheel.
 

BrokenWing

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I'm interested which environmental groups everyone is donating their time or dollars towards? Not conservation organizations but environmental groups.

Seem like a fair barometer of any one person's "support."
 

Big Fin

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I think it's risky and overly simplistic to divide wedges between "hunters" and "non-hunters" or "consumptive" v. "non-consumptive" user groups. First off, nature needs defenders these days. We have 310 million Americans and 7 billion people on earth. Too many of those folks would rather spend a day in a shopping mall than outside. The real problem is between people who value nature and those who don't give a damn. I agree with some environmental groups, disagree with others. Agree with some hunters' groups, disagree with others. The important thing is to find the ones that best reflect your values and throw your shoulder to the wheel.

Couldn't agree more.
 

RobG

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In the last day I spent way too much time, sleep, and lost wages trying to understand this. I've done this because I have an incredible amount of respect for Randy and want to make sense of the words being used.

Best I can tell environmentalist are defined as those believing in a "hands-off" approach to land management, and conservationists allegedly believe in a "sustainable" approach, with a bonus claim on Teddy Roosevelt's philosophy.

Neither term has any meaning when defined like that for the environmentalist must kill himself upon recognition of the affliction. The hippee camped in a redwood is a conservationist because he doesn't believe logging 1000 year old trees is sustainable, but has no problem with other uses. I find no hypocrisy in Randy calling himself a conservationist in spite of the fact he basically believes in hands off approach to wilderness areas (I assume roadless too). On the other hand I find no meaning in him doing so because the Wilkes brothers can also say "fracking is conservation" since that land will be recovered before that redwood regrows, thus it is sustainable by a convenient measure.

Anyone who is involved in land use can call themselves a conservationist because the line is arbitrary. So today I concluded that conservationist is a self-serving term people use to imply their views rest on some moral high ground of natural resource use. The people to the left are derisively called environmentalists, and the people to the right have a variety of derisive names (including Fielder, Cruz, and Barrett).

I kind of miss the days of my childhood when farmers, loggers, and hippees all insisted they were the original environmentalists. Now we seem to have a new meaningless label for people to fight for. From this day forth I'll have little use for the term, but will continue to tap into Randy's wisdom.
 

rideold

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Conservation is difficult because "sustainable use" is in the eye of the beholder to some extent. The ambiguity of that is what pushes a lot of folks to believe in no use rather than responsible use (in my opinion). It's easier to define your stance when it is as simple as "close it off to any and all uses".
 

sabin.adams

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I think it's risky and overly simplistic to divide wedges between "hunters" and "non-hunters" or "consumptive" v. "non-consumptive" user groups. First off, nature needs defenders these days. We have 310 million Americans and 7 billion people on earth. Too many of those folks would rather spend a day in a shopping mall than outside. The real problem is between people who value nature and those who don't give a damn. I agree with some environmental groups, disagree with others. Agree with some hunters' groups, disagree with others. The important thing is to find the ones that best reflect your values and throw your shoulder to the wheel.

This was my point in posting this. There are groups and people in MN and probably else where, who would refer to themselves as environmentalists, who actively buy lands and donate them to either DNR or USFWS for the protection of wildlife and their habitat. Subsequently I, being a hunter, just received access to brand new public land from the environmentalists. Sure we have some issues with anti-hunting "no-use" groups, but in most of the Midwest that issue pales in comparison to the fact that we have very few places to hunt and even worse, fewer and fewer places that provide wildlife habitat.
 

JoseCuervo

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Conservation is difficult because "sustainable use" is in the eye of the beholder to some extent. The ambiguity of that is what pushes a lot of folks to believe in no use rather than responsible use (in my opinion). It's easier to define your stance when it is as simple as "close it off to any and all uses".


The funny part is that there aren't many "close it off to any and all uses" groups out there. Fighting logging projects that would build roads and create sediment in sensitive salmon and steelhead rivers is not "close it off to any and all uses". It is very PRO-SPORTSMAN to want to have healthy salmon and steelhead populations.

I have never seen an "environmental group" fight against Salmon and Steelhead fishing.

When a quasi-"conservation" group is masquerading as a "wise use", that is just another wolf in sheep's clothing of the "multiple use" ATV groups.

Just because one can't drive into an area doesn't mean it is closed off. It just means you get to enjoy breaking in a new pair of boots.
 

Big Fin

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I have never seen an "environmental group" fight against Salmon and Steelhead fishing.
.

Sorry, Jose. I couldn't resist. :D

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/02/judge_dismisses_humane_society.html

https://www.hcn.org/articles/on-the-columbia-river-what-do-you-do-with-a-hungry-sea-lion

Humor aside, it's a pretty good example of how human resource demands impact wildlife and how different ideologies use different mechanisms when seeking solutions.
 

JoseCuervo

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COEngineer

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To me, conservation means sustainable use. And sustainable means that there will be some impact on the land and wildlife (vs zero use), but the impacts can be managed (reduced if necessary or increased if desired). Unmanageable means extinctions, permanent damage to landscapes, etc. Obviously, there have to be exceptions - cities are basically permanent damage, just as open pit mining is permanent (or at least very long term) damage. We all live in houses and use minerals, but we all want wildlife, wild places, clean air and water. So far we have been able to achieve a decent balance in the US, and have been able to reverse some of the damage our predecessors caused. The 'bad' environmentalists seem to think that any use or management (including hunting) is bad and that the world would somehow magically be better if we just left it alone, which is impossible because humans have impacted every corner of the Earth and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
 
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