== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Mar 22 2008 6:28 pm
From: DON BERTOLETTE
Recently I ran across an article in the Sept/Oct 2005 issue of
Orion, which I think bears revival!
Written by Bruce Babbit as an essay adapted from Cities in the
Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America (Island Press), I
initially was skeptical as I had not been altogether approving of
Babbit's activities in the SW of late.
Nonetheless, I think that some excerpts from his essay "Thnking
Big in a Big Country" may strike some mellifluous chords among
many ENTS members.
Initially, Babbit characterizes land use planning from the early
days of our expanding nation to present times as 'directed national
development'. He goes on to say "Land use planning has been a
one-way stree, down which we relentlessly race toward
government-subsidized exploitation of every resource. The question s
we now face are whether and how to include the public interest in
our land and resource decisions."
"The absence of large-sacale open space planning in the US
heretofore, and consequent destruction of landscape ecosystems, has
resulted from an almost exclusive control of land use decisions by
municipal and county governments in thrall to developers. WHat is
needed is a larger vision for the patterns on the land that we want
to see in place a century from now."
In an interesting variation on the Conservation Biology precept of
core/buffer/corridor land use planning, Babbitt suggests we
"...could begin by thinking of cities as islands surrounded by
a sea of open landscapes: compact, self-sustaining with discernible
outer boundaries beyond which the acres are devoted to agriculture
and the preservation of space and biological diversity. The patterns
of development within each island would remaing questions best left
for local decision. The overarching national intersst, properly the
subject of federal legislation and land use planning, would lie in
the surrounding natural landscapes that comprise the ecosystems that
provide for both people and the diversity of life on our planet.
Such planning will require govenmnet leadership and the willingness
to use all the tools, public and private, available for land
One such tool could be an amended Endangered Species Act, which
would operate more in the style of peventive medicine. [Could be
more appropriately be amended to "The Endangered Ecosystem Act]
The Act should conserve the ecosystems upon which all of life,
including human life, depends, rather than performing species by
species triage...it should be expanded to promote the protecion of
open sapce and important and threatened ecosystems before the
downward spiral to extinction begins."
This would be the kind of 'audacity of environmental hope' I would
like to hear from ANY of our presidential candidates!