Volume 6, Number 21 - August 17, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Those interested in the purchase of development rights or conservation easements might find interesting a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences called “Land market feedback scan undermine biodiversity conservation.”
The abstract noted: “The full or partial purchase of land has become a cornerstone of efforts to conserve biodiversity in countries with strong private property rights. Methods used to target areas for acquisition typically ignore land market dynamics. We show how conservation purchases affect land prices and generate feedbacks that can undermine conservation goals, either by displacing development toward biologically valuable areas or by accelerating its pace.”
The authors concluded: “Conservation investments can sometimes even be counterproductive, condemning more species than they save. ... Accounting for land market dynamics in conservation planning is crucial for making smart investment decisions.”
Joel and Kim Murray Berger of the Wildlife ConservationSociety authored an editorial in the New York Times last week calling for congressional protection of an antelope migration corridor from Grand Teton National Park to the Upper Green River Basin. The editorial noted the migrationis threatened by development: “Encroaching roads, reservoirs and ranches have closed many of the pronghorn’s routes. And the one that could conceivably remain open is being squeezed in places.”
The editorial acknowledges that only a few hundred antelope actually use this route, but if the migration stops, no antelope will inhabit Grand Teton National Park, because the winter snow is too deep for the animals.
The Bergers’ op-ed noted: “Preserving the route should not be difficult, because 90 percent of it lies on land owned by the United States Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management. The two agencies need only require that ranchers who pay for grazing rights keep fences at least knee-high off the ground (so that the animals can squeeze under them) and keep energy companies from setting up drilling operations in the corridor. Mining for natural gas or coal-bed methane could still be allowed, as long as wells are dug diagonally so that they come to the surface outside the edges of the corridor.”
The editorial continued: “The private landowners who control the remaining 10 percent of the pronghorn corridor could be offered tax breaks in return for keeping the land passable. By setting up conservation easements, subdividing the land for housing developments could be prevented and fences on the property restricted.”
The Bergers concluded that “Congressional action is needed to formally protect the pronghorn corridor.”
Democratic candidate for state auditor Bill Eikenberry of Wheatland has proposed that Wyoming re-examine the issue of diverting water from the Green River Basin to other regions of the state.
Eikenberry, a former Bureau of Reclamation official, said he put together a report nearly 40 years ago that suggested allocating some of Wyoming’s Colorado River Compact allocation to other areas.
“As I recall I put together a use for a good bit of that water to be moved out of the Green River (Wyoming’s contribution to Colorado River flows) across central Wyoming and into the eastern part of the State, ”Eikenberry said. “Along the way, north or south, water would be dropped off for irrigation, municipal and industrial needs, while providing fish and wildlife benefits. Water would be conveyed in a canal system much in the way the Central Arizona River is used or pumped to various locations within a closed pipe system. The industrial use of the water was coal based and used for such things as hydrogeneration, gasification and power generation. Not considered at the time, but another possible use of the water would be to slurry coal out of Wyoming to be burned and used elsewhere.”
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