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Evaluation and Conclusions There is, In the histories of communities in relation to their resource base, a period of learning how to reach the resource and use it, followed by a period of rich en- joyment which seems endless in that happy time; then there comes a choice of working out the resource and losing it, or learning the art and science of conserva- tion that the resource may be perpetuated by wise use. (Darling and Eichhorn, 1967) Many of the uses of land described in this report seem to represent the critical ecological transition in the history of man on this continent. If our criteria of living standards are to include space, scenic, and recre- ational values, then certain practices cannot be sustained and should be subjected to replanning and control. In this sense the destruction of "outdoor" resources has reached a critical point. Irreversible changes in fauna and flora (except possibly of local populations of species otherwise secure) should be permitted, if at all, only after the most searching study. Such a policy is necessary, since the demands of a burgeoning population are, actually and po- tentially, unlimited. TH E POPU LATION VAR IAB LE it appears inevitable that unchecked population growth will bring about a "bread-alone" level of living in North America, as it already has in much of the world. Population controls are an essential part of the op- eration of every natural ecosystem, and the development of a durable 256
Evaluation and Conclusions 257 homeostasis for mankind on this continent includes the abridgment of demand as a concommitant of conservative resource use. For the present, it is too much to ask just how many people should be planned for at just what point in the future. But to accept a doubling of population between 1960 and 2000 and to mobilize all natural assets to meet the "need" is self-defeating. Areas strategically suited to indus- trial and population buildup are being heavily used. Large public in- vestments to replace open spaces with new communities means a further expansion of population, increasing drain on resource reserves, and more of the pollution overload that is becoming a national emergency. If present trends were to continue, population growth would even- tually be checked by shortage and hardship, but the fund of native wealth would have been irretrievably damaged. From this perspective, the inadequacies of our present social and economic guidance were recognized by Udall (U.S. Department of the Interior, 1967~. One could contemplate the United States a century from now with equanimity if our growth rates and growth patterns reflected a mature, purposeful national will. Arrogant events and the headlong pace of material progress have left us little time to ask what people are for, or to agree on long-term societal aspirations. We have learned neither how to grow, nor at what pace, and that is our failing and our future trouble. It is evident that population planning is a part of resource planning. The following conclusions are based on the assumption that public pro- grams will of necessity be developed toward optimizing human numbers by controlling birth rates, as death rates continue to decline. Without this, it is impossible to plan for continuing resource management. HIGHEST USE AND SOCIAL NEED It has been largely implicit in our discussions of land and water use that one works "with nature" and requires of any area the kind of yield that represents the most continuing human benefits. Usually this is the high- est biological productivity of an area-e.g., it would ordinarily be poor business to maintain a hardwood forest on soils that could raise corn efficiently. On the other hand, the extent and distribution of various land types on the continent are fortuitous, and blind adherence to the principle of highest potential yield can lead to oversupply in one commodity and scarcity in another. This is particularly true where one kind of produce
258 Land Use and Wildlife Resources is marketable and another is not. In terms of public policy, someone must reach a judgment between the productive potential of an area as determined by physical capability and what actually should be done with it to serve best the majority of.citizens. The first is a biological problem, the second entails social and economic analysis. These issues are a mark of the present, because earlier in our history "highest use" was nearly always synonymous with the greatest dollar return. In a sparsely populated continent this was the practical and workable approach. Today's complexities include the alternatives of the free market versus artificial price supports and the contentions of people who "got there first" in the use of land and water. Modern planning for resource use is much concerned with opposing doctrines, both of which are revered as part of the American way. The one defends the free enterprise system and the constitutional rights of individuals. The other centers on guardianship of the public interest, which means a conservation policy-"the greatest good of the greatest number over the longest time." A proper balance of interests will not be achieved easily or quickly, but to seek it is the unavoidable responsi- bility of an enlightened society. The burden of a sometimes unpopular policy must fall on the elected representatives of the people. It is in- herent in the nature of the situation that causes of the future may have few advocates to oppose the numerous advocates of the short-term interests of today and tomorrow. AN OVERVIEW In the following sections we synthesize what appear to us certain broad policy principles that apply to land-use issues and trends. It is not by chance that these encompass the husbandry of all renewable resources, with wildlife taking its place among other benefits yielded by the en- vironment. This is not intended as a summary of the entire report; im- portant questions on many land and water operations are treated only in the text itself. We adopt this presentation to avoid any suggestion of a piecemeal approach to resource management. It is notable that the government has not had a disinterested mechanism for appraising resource uses or developed any overview that could monitor the management of our continental ecosystem along lines of true improvement for the future. This is a problem in the environmental biology of man, and planning at
Evaluation and Conclusions 259 any lesser level of integration must inevitably continue and magnify the errors of the past. The Worth of Wildlife The interpretations in this report fortify a view that wild animals and, in general, the natural scene have far-reaching significance for human welfare. The dimension is a social one, not measurable fully, or even in large part, in dollars or other economic terms. We believe that to pre- serve the quality and variety of the American out-of-doors is justified by assumption and principle, rather than by economics. Against an en- compassing materialistic attrition, the burden of proof has been on the defenders of every outpost of nature, until after a short 300 years, little of the truly primitive remains. The unique features of our remaining wildness should be inviolate to every impinging claim. Management of Brushlands The development of basic knowledge on the ecology and values of brushlands, especially several types that occur in semiarid regions, ap- pears to have been slighted. Subsidized eradication operations appear to be going forward without an adequate knowledge of the effects on fauna of the resulting plant successions. In land-use research programs, high priority should be given to ac- celeration of fact-finding on brushland management in relation to wild- life, livestock, and other values. Federal and state land management agencies should be urged to review current policies and regulations that bear on requirements for joint planning between land managers and wildlife biologists prior to the initiation of brush manipulation opera- tions. Relationships should be established to assure adequate protection of public wildlife values. Special attention is needed in public assistance programs toward providing incentives that will make it feasible for landowners to benefit wildlife as they go about their brushland manage- ment programs. Control of Birds and Mammals It is essential that the control of wild birds and mammals undertaken to reduce economic damage be based on a systematic and scientifically verified method of collecting stock and range damage information. This
260 Land Use and Wildlife Resources fact-gathering is logically the responsibility of government wildlife re- search agencies and should not be a part of the mission of operational control groups. Where feasible, handling damage through a landowner insurance system, such as that used for waterfowl problems in the Prai- rie Provinces of Canada, is to be recommended. An ecological approach that makes clear the relationship of crop or livestock losses to land-use practices is fundamental in setting control policies and gauging public responsibility for compensating programs. Extension and demonstration should be emphasized as a way of aiding landowners on a self-help basis. Recognition of the status of large predators as vanishing species within the United States-especially the grizzly bear, grey wolf, and puma-requires that these species be given special protection through appropriate state-federal cooperative arrangements. The natural rela- tionships of predators to game species need to be better understood as being generally beneficial or innocuous and not as justifying public pro- grams for the reduction of carnivores. Taking abundant predators as game, under appropriate regulations, is preferable to any alternative kind of control. It should be basic to the design and application of con- trol techniques that they be used specifically on local problems rather than generally against populations or species. Widespread experience with the bounty system indicates that it tends to be indiscriminate and self-perpetuating and has no place in public management. The great and increasing public interest in predatory birds and mam- mals is evidence of their exceptionally high esthetic value. In this con- nection, the protection of all birds of prey, as now practiced in more than half the states, is to be encouraged. Protection of Waters and Wetlands Aquatic habitats are critically important to many forms of wildlife that represent a major public interest. These habitats have been subject to longstanding attrition and degradation, and they are still being de- stroyed at a rate the nation can ill afford. Wetlands may properly be designated as an ecological disaster area in need of emergency action. While the drainage of properly used agricultural lands is essential, the "reclamation" of new crop acreage through public subsidies of any kind should be terminated. By every feasible means, landowners should be encouraged to preserve headwater marshes and small waters, and in- centive programs should be developed to improve and restore such areas in the public interest. Such measures should be given high pri
Evaluation and Conclusions 261 ority in the planning of small-watershed programs, and the present em- phasis on drainage and channelization of streams is in need of review and change. The states should be urged to establish and enforce more stringent regulations governing the dredging and filling of natural water areas. Coastal brackish waters are the most productive habitats of living things on land or sea, and their critical significance to marine resources and other coastal wildlife is largely ignored. Regulation of filling oper- ations, canal building, and other activities that damage bays and estu- aries should be an immediate issue and might properly be made a responsibility of the Secretary of the Interior. R iver Basin Pol icy We regard the "total" development of river systems as a misbegotten concept stemming from early assumptions that economic expansion must outgain population-now a patently erroneous premise. A much restructured, artificial hydrology will result in the mass decimation of wildlife and natural areas, will foreclose future management options by bringing about irreversible changes, and will create problems of unpre- dictable magnitude through siltation and eutrophication. Most overflow lands can be used most securely and economically within the limits of their natural flood dynamics, through a policy of public information and zoning. The view that it is the destiny and right of every back- country area to establish at public cost a big-city industrial culture by major changes in river systems or by other means is not ecologically realistic for the nation as a whole. The Open Lands Areas of sparse human population should be valued as essential space, and in some measure as a counter-balance to the huge megalopolises that are taking over great sections of the continent. For millions who must live under the stress of concentration, the still-open lands will be a retreat offering some measure of social refreshment and privacy. In keeping with this growing value, forests, ranges, marshes, and seashores can yield their multiple benefits to best advantage under informed eco- logical management. Water, timber, forage, wildlife, and recreation are commodities under increasing demand. They are the products of ex- tensive areas that also help dilute the accumulated atmospheric and
262 Land Use and Wildlife Resources waterborne wastes that degrade the quality of life in population cen- ters. We conceive that spaces extensively used are an asset to be recog- nized in the American way of life. R E F E R ENCES Darling, F. F., and N. D. Eichhorn. 1967. Man and nature in the national parks. Conservation Foundation, Washington, D.C. 80 p. U.S. Department of the Interior. 1967. Man . . . an endangered species? Conserva- tion Yearbook 4. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 100 p.