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Nikon Monarch 7

    The New Normal

    Edward Abbey said that “the idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” A bay without oysters is no longer wild. A coast without prairie is no longer wild. Land smothered by Brazilian peppertree is no longer wild. Wilderness does need defenders, even if such defense offends those who should be our friends.

    Hiroshima oysters by Ted Lee Eubanks A recent article in Bioscience declared oysters to be "functionally extinct." According to the Huffington Post

    An international team of researchers led by Michael Beck of the Nature Conservancy and the University of California, Santa Cruz, examined the condition of native oyster reefs in 40 ecoregions, including 144 bays.

    "Oyster reefs are at less than 10 percent of their prior abundance in most bays (70 percent) and ecoregions (63 percent)," said the study.

    "They are functionally extinct — in that they lack any significant ecosystem role and remain at less than one percent of prior abundances in many bays (37 percent) and ecoregions (28 percent) — particularly in North America, Australia and Europe."

    Miller and Spoolman (Essentials of Ecology) noted that a century ago "oysters were so abundant that they cleaned and filtered the Chesapeake's entire volume of water every three days…Now oysters have been reduced to the point where this filtration process takes a year." In 1837 Audubon found Galveston Bay gin clear; in 2008 Hurricane Ike buried 60% of Galveston's remaining oyster reefs under feet of suffocating silt and sediment. The BP fiasco has added oil and dispersants to the growing list of threats faced by Gulf reefs. 

    The native oyster in the Gulf of Mexico, Crassostrea virginica, is a keystone species. Oysters are ecosystem engineers, modifying bay habitats through reef building and filter feeding. Early Galveston oyster reefs were so immense that they were outlined on topographic maps. I remember oysters so abundant that reefs were dredged to supply material for roads and parking lots.

    Oysters filter the bay, allowing sea grasses and other aquatic vegetation to flourish in clear waters. I did not see Galveston Bay gin clear, but I did witness the demise of the sea grasses. Wigeongrass, turtlegrass, and shoalgrass once carpeted the near shore, largely disappearing in the 1970s. Among the chief causes of the demise is light attenuation, weasel words to describe the loss of water clarity. Subsidence in Galveston Bay deepened near-shore waters, thereby increasing wave action and turbidity. If one adds fleets of bottom-plowing shrimpers, jet skis, up-stream development, and personal water craft, the grass had no chance.

    Canvasback by Ted Lee EubanksWaterfowl such as canvasback and redhead were impacted as well. Both were common in the Galveston game markets in the 1800s. Both, victims of the same drastic changes, are now rarely seen in the bay. Sea turtles too were once plentiful in these waters, but over harvesting, pollution, and a loss of habitat led to their decline as early as the 1890s.

    This week hundreds of birders rushed to Galveston Island State Park, another altered coastal habitat, to see a fork-tailed flycatcher. I noticed that in most of the photos the bird is perched in some woody shrub. Much of this is baccharis, with scattered yaupon and waxmyrtle. None of this would have been present in Audubon's time. Chestnut-collared longspurs and Sprague's pipits would have been common then, scurrying through the dense grasses bordering the dunes. Trees were limited to one grove, Lafitte’s Grove, near the west end of the island. With fire extinguished, and grazing gone, former coastal prairies are now morphing into scrub. 

    Each day we are faced with a new normal. We are told that "rentalship" is the new ownership and that an economy with high unemployment and few manufacturing jobs is the new normal. McKinsey has reported that "the business landscape has changed fundamentally; tomorrow’s environment will be different, but no less rich in possibilities for those who are prepared." McKinsey and Company is the “the firm that built the house of Enron,” according to the Observer. Let’s pray that this new McKinsey normal has fewer economic collapses than the last one.

    What is the new ecological normal? The ESA is only intended to return populations to sustainable levels, i.e., like we found them in the first place. Keystone species such as the oyster, bison, and prairie dog are no longer present in sufficient numbers to engineer the landscape. Blackbirds are pests, so we poison them. Wolves prey on game animals, so we shoot them. Bison wander off the Yellowstone range in winter, so we cull them. Nature is being shoe-horned into progressively tighter spaces, as "wild" is being redefined to align better with our personal cravings. 

    Black-tailed Prairie Dog by Ted Lee Eubanks Consider this example. Prairie dogs are to the prairie what oysters are to the bay. Utah prairie dogs have been reduced from their historic acreage of 448,000 acres to around 7,000 acres today – a decline of over 98%. The species is currently listed as threatened, and a federal judge has ordered the USFWS to reconsider its 2007 ruling which rejected a higher level of protection. According to the Desert News, "Mike Styler, the executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, has told state policymakers that Utah should avoid at all costs any elevated listing of the Utah prairie dog — and should work hard to get them removed from protected status." Isn't the Utah DNR supposed to protect wildlife like the prairie dog, or is this too the new normal?

    Newt Gingrich would like to disband the EPA. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), incoming chair of the House subcommittee on public lands, has said that "it is unacceptable that our federal lands continue to serve as drug trafficking and human smuggling superhighways…along the 1,933-mile border with Mexico," and that "strict environmental regulations are enabling a culture of unprecedented lawlessness." Republican Congressman John Shimkus has been selected to head up the new Environment and Economy Subcommittee under the new Republican-majority House. According to the Congressman, climate change is a huge, leftist conspiracy and comparable in its horrors to 9/11, referring to it as “the largest assault on democracy and freedom in this country that I’ve ever experienced.”

    There is no requirement that a public official have an environmental bone in his or her body. One can be a talk show host or holy roller and spout hocus-pocus with no threat of retribution or refutation. No matter how ludicrous the claim, all you need are viewers, votes, or donors to get a pass.

    There is no rule or law that requires birders to be conservationists, either. There is no birding license, no mandate that birders have a basic knowledge of and sensitivity to the natural world. But doesn't being a seeing, educated, lucid, sentient creature require that you at least acknowledge the gradual, incremental diminution of nature, of life? How is it that some birders fail to acknowledge that which is most obvious? How can one watch yet not see?

    Perhaps one reason is that each new generation of birders judges the world by the normal they inherit. Gulf fallouts are now a shadow of the past, for example. If you began birding recently, though, these diminished numbers are all that you have ever known.

    Another reason is that birding is a soft-edged, amorphous recreation; each person approaches both the recreation and the resource in an individualized fashion. For example, there are consumer birders that care little about the natural world except for how many ticks, how many rarities, and how many lifers nature can provide. These consumer birders collect birds as commodities, much like people collect spoons, matchbooks, or beer bottles.

    In the past Fermata surveyed birders along the Platte River in Nebraska, where we found avid birders that were disappointed in their experience because they had failed to see the one common crane present that year among the thousands of sandhills. Casual birders, however, were overwhelmed by the immensity of the experience (hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes filling the river), and apparently they could not have imagined a more awe-inspiring day outside. 

    Bolivar Flats by Ted Lee EubanksI have seen the consuming side of birding more times than I care to mention. I recall birders threatening never to return to High Island the first morning Houston Audubon charged an entrance fee. I remember the birders complaining about not being able to drive out to see the Bolivar Flats shorebirds after Houston Audubon placed the first bollards restricting vehicular traffic. Consider this photograph, taken of the original bollards a short time after they were placed. To the right you see where cars and trucks were still allowed to park. To the left you see vegetation already becoming reestablished, trapping sand, and building dunes. Why would anyone oppose this?

    A number of consumer birders opposed Teaming with Wildlife, an effort to implement an excise tax similar to that paid by hunters and anglers. Those funds would have been used to help states finance their nongame programs. With parks and wildlife budgets being slashed this year (40% in Texas), those additional funds from birders would be most welcome now.

    Birders in Ohio have been upset by the planned closure of two carbon-belching coal-fueled power plants along the lake shore.

    Jim McCormac, an avian education specialist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, called the power plants "ecotourism magnets" that draw birders from across the Midwest. He wrote an article on Northeast Ohio's power plant birding that is scheduled to appear in the next issue of Birder's World magazine.

    "This is a real bummer," McCormac said. "The openings in the lake caused by those warm water outflows from the power plants created some of the best and easiest birding on the entire Great Lakes in winter. Of course, it is an entirely unnatural phenomenon."

    Birders still complain about the elimination of traffic and RV camping in Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, even though the beneficial effects were seen within days of the closure. Here is a recent quote from a Texas birder on Texbirds:

    When they shut it [Bentsen] down to camping from my perspective they ruined it. 

    Port Aransas Birding Center by Ted Lee Eubanks The most recent example of consumer birding is again from Texas. A few days ago Texbirds buzzed with complaints about "carnage" at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. The City of Port Aransas decided to remove Brazilian peppertree from the sanctuary before it spread even further, and a number of birders erupted in outrage. Here are a few of their quotes (at least the ones that can be shared in polite company):

    • Hopefully we can change the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce's mind in time before we are kicking through dead golden-winged, cerlulean [sic], and swainson's warblers in the parking lot. 
    • Please contact the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce ASAP and voice your concern. No one else can help the migrant birds. They have no voice. Only our voices will be able to stop this insanity.
    • Although the Brazilian Pepper is a hated invader, it serves a valuable purpose on Mustang and Padre Islands. Although the prevailing logic is destroy all by any means, these barrier islands should stand as an exception. 
    • I see it as hypocritical for birders who are supporting the outright removal of these peppers to even get near these two fine birding spots. They are not what you want. Go find an oak tree 50 miles inland and stand around it. Enjoy your Chipping Sparrows.
    • The fact of the matter is, these barrier islands just need trees and plants, regardless of their origin. 

    Is it the birds that need these trees and plants, or the birders? Here are additional revelations from the same peppertree advocates:

    • Last spring a number of birders were delighted to see at eye level a male Cerulean Warbler using the pepper trees next to the larger of the two huisache trees. Some Texbirders may remember seeing this particular bird. Well that stand of pepper trees is just about gone!! 
    • As long-time island residents, [we have] observed hordes of passerines feeding in Oleander, salt-cedar, Brazilian Pepper, and numerous nursery-stock plants. All are unfavorable exotics, most are destructive and competitive to other plant life. But they serve a much-needed purpose in this unique environment.
    • I couldn't even get one to grow in Austin. I tried, no dice. Too cold. Why would I do such a thing? I can't even count how many species I've seen relating to or eating directly from these plants – even when other choices were available.
    • Every spring I see people sitting at the picnic table watching the birds both in the trees and underneath in the shaded water.
    • I also think that its pretty funny that most of the best birders in the state have taken the side with [the Brazilian pepper].  These people have spent thousands of hours out in the field and seen first hand how the birds react to nature.  Maybe more time should be spent outdoors watching and learning about wildlife rather than sitting in front of a computer all day reading reports from people with Phd's that wouldn't Know [sic] a cerulean warbler if they hit it with there [sic] Smart Car.  
    • Of course I'm concerned about the birding hotspot. Hell, it wouldn't be a hotspot if there were no birds…..looks like it's time to get on the phone with these jackasses in Port A….

    Yellow Warbler, Port Aransas Birding CenterAsk our readers from Florida about the plant that these birders are so vigorously defending. Brazilian peppertree now blankets around 700,000 acres in that state alone. Like Chinese tallow, Brazilian peppertree is a facilitative wetland species; it will dominate a diversity of upland and wetlands habitats. The dense canopy shades out all other plants and provides a very poor habitat for native species. In Texas, Brazilian peppertree is considered to be one of the most aggressive and undesirable exotic plants in the state, so much so that "no person may import, possess, sell, or place them into water of this state except as authorized by rule or permit issued by the [Texas Parks and Wildlife] department."

    Yet here we have birders, allegedly among the best in the state, aggressively defending this trespasser. How can we explain this contradiction to the public? How do we make any sense out of this incongruity? How do we decipher quotes such as "the sooner people concentrate on saving habitat and less on "invasive" plants, the better off the birds and other wildlife will be?"

    Hunting and fishing traditionally have been termed consumptive recreations, with hunters and anglers being required to contribute to conservation and restoration through their license fees and excise taxes. Game is harvested at sustainable levels, and the funding helps replace the fish and wildlife sacrificed through the recreation. Hunters and anglers have rightly argued that this approach has served us well for decades (certainly since the passage of Pittman-Robertson in 1937).  Hunters and anglers do pay for conservation, wittingly or not.

    With birding, licensing is not a requirement. There is no federal birding stamp, and no Texas birding license. Birders pay no additional excise tax on their equipment. Port Aransas does not charge for entry into its birding center; birders use the facility without being required to give anything back. Birders are able to enjoy this facility through the generosity of the town. Look what happens, though, when Port Aransas is seen to be impinging on a consumer birder’s rights. Look how quickly they will turn a benefactor into a jackass.

    Aldo Leopold wrote the following:

    American Oystercatcher by Ted Lee Eubanks One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

    There are those in the birding community who do not want to be told otherwise. Fortunately they are a small minority. I understand how the decline of the oyster reefs, the loss of coastal prairie, and the invasion of Brazilian pepper in Port Aransas may be invisible to laymen. But why to this group of birders? Is this the new normal, that dark moment when an ephimeral pleasure, to see that next cerulean warbler, trumps any ecological or moral obligation to the future? 

    Edward Abbey said that “the idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” A bay without oysters or oystercatchers is no longer wild. A coast without prairie is no longer wild. Land smothered by Brazilian peppertree is no longer wild. Wilderness does need defenders, even when the defense offends those who should be our friends. 

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    Ted Lee Eubanks

    Ted Lee Eubanks

    Ted Lee Eubanks is president and CEO of Fermata Inc. an Austin-based global leader is sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation. Eubanks and Fermata were responsible for developing the first birding trails, in Texas, in the early 1990s. He has served on the national boards of Audubon and the CLO, and received the first ABA Chan Robbins Award in 2000. Eubanks writes extensively about birds, conservation, and sustainability, and has coauthored two books about birds (The Birdlife of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast, and Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail). To continue his work connecting people to places, birders to birds, Eubanks has formed a new company, Great American Trails, which is using new technologies to attract new constituents to the outdoors.
    Ted Lee Eubanks

    Latest posts by Ted Lee Eubanks (see all)

    • http://www.surfbirds.com/blog/northcoastdiaries/ Mike Patterson

      While my initial reaction to “oysters are functionally extinct” when I read it the other day was: “this is kind of hyperbolic, there’s more than one species of oysters… I can point to several spots along the Oregon Coast where the native (and non-commercial) oyster species is doing tolerably well”, the larger point made here definitely hits home, however.

      My work is mostly in habitat restoration and we constantly fight against folks one would think should know better. Folks who resist efforts to control the take over of Willapa Bay by _Spartina_ or carp in Harney Lake, because chemical controls have become the only viable solution. Folks who want to protect vast mono-cultures of Eurasian Blackberry and Russian Olive because it attracts the occasional rare species or foster cattle grazing in wetlands because it makes the shorebird watching easier.

      The larger problem though is that most efforts at bringing back native landscapes (even small patches) lack a long view in their planning. Many land managers want the quick fix, but there’s more to protecting salmon than shooting seals. You can’t mow the Scotch-broom once and be done. You can’t plant willows once and then move on to the next project. Real restoration does not fit into the two-year funding cycle very well. There is no ONE thing we can do to bring back salmon or Spotted Owls or coastal prairies. We should expect a restoration to take decades of weeding and re-planting and patience. They must be systemic rather than cosmetic.

      Ecological matters are more complicated than a sound bite. They shouldn’t be the business of politicians and others with short attention spans. Life is too complicated to be reduced to a phrase on a bumper sticker.

    • Ted Eubanks

      Thanks for the comment, Mike. Fortunately, Port Aransas has been aided in this effort by the USFWS for years. There has been funding available for removing Brazilian pepper, although there never seems to be enough. We are working to establish a fund with the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory to accept donations for additional native landscaping at the preserve. Port Aransas has been committed to birding for a number of years, and I have no doubt that they will continue to work on restoring these lands.

      I could not agree more about the time that such a restoration takes. The years that we have fought Chinese tallow here on the Texas coast are astounding when you consider how much remains. Hurricane Ike, however, did have one positive impact. The tallow forests have been dramatically reduced, even if only temporarily.

      By the way, I enjoy North Coast Diaries.

      Ted

    • http://birdchaser.blogspot.com Rob

      As I was one who originally complained when the campers were kicked out of Bentsen, thanks for calling us on our crap, Ted :-)

    • http://profile.typepad.com/alaskabirds Brad Meiklejohn

      Your piece on the “Consumer birder” is spot on, Mr. Eubanks. Thank you for your powerful writing.

      For a number of years I have pressing the ABA leadership to foster a link between listing and conservation. There is nothing inherently virtuous about listing. Having a large life list does not mean you are a good birder or a good conservationist. It merely means you’ve spent a lot of time and money chasing rare birds. One could argue that those with the largest lists have the biggest negative impact on birds, and your piece on consumer birders supports that argument.

      Since ABA promotes both listing and bird conservation it seems natural to link the two together to advance “virtuous birding.” If listers contributed to bird conservation at levels commensurate with their list totals then they would have something worth bragging about.

      Brad Meiklejohn
      Eagle River, Alaska

    • Richard Koeppel

      Great article!

    • http://www.crbo.net/ Nate Dias

      Thanks Ted.

      I have been hoping for years to see excise taxes on binoculars, scopes, etc. – to match the excise taxes that hunters pay to fund conservation efforts. It’s sad to hear that selfish opposition from some of our own kind (birders) is part of the equation.

      Here in South Carolina, I have been trying for quite a while to get birders to buy hunting licenses and duck stamps to support our impoverished state DNR. One can check boxes that indicate you are a non-hunter making the purchases – which would get birders more “pull” in management decisions.

      Almost no birders do, even though their birding visits degrade ricefield dikes + trunks, roads, and other infrastructure. They benefit from SC DNR efforts and managed lands, but they refuse to help pay for them – leaving hunters to foot most of the bill.

      Then those same birders complain about DNR “game farming” more than managing for nongame species.

      * If you don’t help pay the bills, don’t complain about getting short shrift!

    • http://www.pbase.com/terrywoodward Terry Woodward

      Ted,

      I enjoyed this article, it gets down to the heart of the matter. I do feel you could have taken it a stage further and perhaps asked why we are not payng more for the privilege of enjoying our recreation. You mentioned High Island charging admission. An interesting point, and perhaps one could draw an analogy from Golf. There is lttle doubt that High Island would be a top twenty site on most world lists, in the US probably a top ten, would a golfer complain at having to pay ten bucks to play at Augusta or Torrey Pines””……Golfers pay a green fee for every round (visit), this helps pay for he upkeep of the course, should we have an expectation to be treated any different?
      I don’t think it unrealistic for any birder, photographer or naturalist in this day and age to think they should have these facilities gratis and expect the site to harbor new lifers, twenty species of warbler and look like a piece of pristine sixteenth century habitat. It also iritates, when those using the essentially free facilities then expend a great deal of time and effort complaining about site management. If we don’t help ourselves collectively by raising funds to buy new tracts of land in environmentally sensitive areas and then ensuring adequate fund are available to manage these areas, we will see a continued decline until a tipping point is reached. Unfortunately, we have either been unable or unwilling to recognize this, much to our shame. Talking of shame, and deviating on a slight tangent, the short sighted battle in Washngton to curtail the EPA and take active measures to lower C O 2 emmisions is stunning. Stupidity of biblical proportions.

    • Ted Eubanks

      For those interested, let me share a bit of comic irony. As I reported in my article, the Brazilian peppertrees have been removed from the Port Aransas birding center, a move met with outrage by a handful of Texas birders. As I have now learned, Port Aransas has received $13,000 for Brazilian peppertree removal over the past few years. These grants were given by the Great Texas Birding Classic. In other words, the project that drew the ire of some Texas birders is, at least in part, being funded by other Texas birders and their sponsors.

    • http://seagullsteve.blogspot.com/ Steve Tucker

      Great blog Ted. I am all too aware of the unscientific (and sometimes unconscious) attitudes birders are frequently prone to have…as a working biologist, I often get to see both sides more than most birders. At any rate, its nice to see someone else bringing it up, thanks!

    • Objective birder

      In addition to gross political bias that belies its objectivity, this article contains two fundamental problems.

      First, it rests on the unstated assumption that the original state of nature is the ideal, preferred state. Any anthropogenic alteration of it constitutes a sin that should be corrected. This is strictly a matter of opinion. It is also the quintessential conservative argument: the way things used to be is the way things must stay, change is evil. Just why is the original, natural state “best” ? There is no greater righteousness, validity or merit in the original state of nature. It is simply the way things used to be, they way things developed over time. It is neither good nor bad; it is just a fact. Human impact changes nature. Some species decline, other increase. Some species become extirpated, others become established. Habitats change, climate changes. Whether such changes are good or bad is a matter of opinion but you refuse to acknowledge this.

      A related second: you evidently refuse to admit that there is more than one way to look at nature. To some, it is something sacred that must not be altered. To others, it is an expendable resource to be converted to financial profits. To still others it is a store of resources that may be used, but only in certain ways. There is more than one way to look at nature, and at the human relationship with nature. It is a subjective matter of values and world view. It concerns not how things are, but how things OUGHT to be. Clearly, a matter of opinion and values.

      However, people of your ilk insist that there is only one way to look at nature and that is their way; anyone different is a sinner. You always attempt to argue that what is bad for birds is bad for people. Sometimes this is true, sometimes not. Birders mourn the loss of Bachman’s Warbler and the Great Auk. Some non-birders could not care less. They are not sinners, they simply don’t consider birds important. They are entitled to their values just as birders are. You attempt to present them as criminals because they don’t think the way you do.

      Your position will be taken much more seriously when you acknowledge the subjectivity of your arguments and learn to respect others who do not share your view that the original state of nature is sacred.
      P.s. – I have been birding for 27 years, have a background in vertebrate zoology, and am NOT a lister.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/hawkowl Jason Rogers

      Great article Ted, but I’m a little more pessimistic than you. As I see it, it’s not just a “small minority” of birders who do not want to be told otherwise. There’s a substantial proportion if not a majority that, in one way or another, shows contempt for what remains of the natural world. If you’ve read any of my recent comments about bird feeders or playback on Birdchat or other birding groups, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And I’ve found that here in Alberta, there is next to no overlap between those active in the birding community and those active in the wilderness one even as one of the biggest environmental abominations on the planet unfolds here.

      Jason Rogers
      Banff, AB

    • Ted Lee Eubanks

      I must admit that I love when someone goes to the “people of your ilk” card to bolster a bankrupt argument. I am afraid that objective you are not (by the way, I also love it when a critic hides behind a nom de plume). Since you are a biologist, consider the following from the Florida Brazilian Peppertree Management Plan:

      “Attributes of Brazilian peppertree that contribute to its invasiveness include a large number of fruits produced per female plant, an effective mechanism of dispersal by birds (Panetta and McKee 1997), tolerance to both shade (Ewel 1979), fire (Doren et al. 1991), salinity (Mytinger and Williamson 1987), moisture extremes (Nilsen and Muller 1980b, Ewe and Sternberg 2002), and an apparent allelopathic effect on neighboring plants (Gogue et al. 1974, Nilsen and Muller 1980a,b, Morgan and Overholt 2005).”

      “The plant also is capable of disrupting critical tritrophic level interactions. For example, shading caused by dense stands of Brazilian peppertree in Florida Panther National Wildlife Reserve has been shown to kill food plants used by the white-tailed deer(Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman)), which in turn is an important prey item of the endangered Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi).”

      Bond (1993)called plant invaders that suppress the seedlings of other species “keystone weeds,” a perfect description of the Brazilian peppertree’s documented allelopathic and shading effects that reduce establishment of native species.

      You remark that “there is no greater righteousness, validity or merit in the original state of nature. It is simply the way things used to be, they way things developed over time. It is neither good nor bad; it is just a fact. Human impact changes nature. Some species decline, other increase. Some species become extirpated, others become established. Habitats change, climate changes. Whether such changes are good or bad is a matter of opinion but you refuse to acknowledge this.”

      I do not refuse to accept your argument. I simply do not accept it as valid. There is a little too much “stuff happens” in your argument for me to buy. In fact, it sounds like an excuse for future damage and loss than an explanation. I will also note that I cannot imagine a more subjective argument, one from the world of moral relativism, where “good or bad is a matter of opinion.” I guess that you would also argue that global climate is neither good nor bad, since “stuff happens.”

      Aldo Leopold said that “to keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” People of my ilk follow his maxim. People of my ilk call this “ethics.”

    Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
    If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
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