Tag Archives: environment

Beaver Believers?

27 Jun

Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter.

If you’ve interacted with me at all in the last several weeks, I might have mentioned that beavers have transparent eyelids so they can see underwater! That they secrete a musky oil that contains the active ingredient in aspirin! That a half-mile-long structure built by beavers is visible from space! That an ancient member of the beaver family the size of a small black bear once roamed much of the modern-day United States! (To find out just how seriously the U.S. considered using beavers as a defensive weapon of sorts during the Cold War, you’ll have to read the book.)

But none of those facts are what converted me into a “Beaver Believer,” as the group of scientists, land-managers, and environmentally minded folks who are working tirelessly to bolster beaver populations around the U.S. are known. It’s not that beavers need our help—the animals are not even remotely endangered, though their numbers are also nowhere near what they were before Europeans arrived in North America—but we certainly need them.

This is part of Kate Wheeling’s Pacific Standard lead-in to her interview with author Ben Goldfarb and his new book Eager. You may read the entire interview here.


Smokey Bear Archive

12 Dec

The National Agricultural Library might not be the first place you’d think to visit for its fine art, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture repository actually has a sophisticated collection of oil and acrylic paintings on public display. The artwork has been accumulated over the course of the Forest Service’s seven decade-long Smokey Bear public information campaign.

Read the Atlas Obscura post about the Smokey Bear archive here.

The Religious Roots of America’s Love for Camping

17 Oct

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Summer 1868 passed as an unremarkable season at Saranac Lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The weather was fine, the scenery delightful, and the usual array of 200 to 300 recreational hunters and anglers passed through the small settlement on their way into the wild lands beyond. The summers of 1869 and 1870, however, were an altogether different story. The weather was more or less the same, and the scenery continued to entrance, but instead of a handful of sportsmen came a multitude of men and women from points east and south to enjoy America’s newest recreation—camping. Almost to a person, they had been inspired by what today, at the beginning of the 21st century, we recognize as the watershed book in the history of American camping: the first comprehensive “how-to-camp” guidebook, Adventures in the Wilderness; or, Camp-Life in the Adirondacks, which had been written in April 1869 by…

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Signs and wonder: How people of different faiths view the total solar eclipse

21 Aug

Emily McFarlan Miller at Religion News Service helps us consider eclipses religiously: Signs and wonder: How people of different faiths view the total solar eclipse | Religion News Service

The big, nearly 200-year-old legal issue at the heart of the Dakota Access pipeline fight

13 Mar

Tribal sovereignty is a concept that even some of the protesters may not be familiar with. But it’s important. This article by German Lopez at Vox does a fine job of clarifying some key issues and history about tribal sovereignty: The big, nearly 200-year-old legal issue at the heart of the Dakota Access pipeline fight – Vox

Sacred Bears Ears and Gold Butte Designated as National Monuments

29 Dec

Tribal leaders generally applaud President Barack Obama’s designation of sacred sites Bears Ears and Gold Butte as national monuments: Sacred Bears Ears and Gold Butte Designated as National Monuments – Indian Country Media Network.

However, not all Natives, let alone many locals, are applauding:


Holy Rage: Lessons from Standing Rock

23 Dec

Besides frostbite, what did people take away from there? This was probably the first time many non-Native people had been on a reservation, or in the presence of Native ceremonies. That’s a positive. The more people understand that Native Americans have their own religious rituals and objects of veneration—which to many non-Native people are simply features of the landscape—as well as cathedrals and churches, the better. Understanding the natural world as more than just a resource for energy, or a recreational opportunity, or even a food resource, gives moral weight to the effort to contain catastrophic climate change.

Read what else Louise Erdrich has to say about the Standing Rock protests here at the New Yorker: Holy Rage: Lessons from Standing Rock – The New Yorker

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