Group aims to reintroduce Jaguars — once nearly hunted to extinction — to Argentina ~ PBS

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The Jaguar, the biggest cat in the Americas, was hunted and poached to extinction in parts of Argentina about 70 years ago. They are in critical danger of vanishing completely. Only a few hundred are left in the country. Rewilding Argentina, a conservation nonprofit, has embarked on an audacious plan to reintroduce the species to its long lost home. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:As world leaders prepare to meet in Glasgow, Scotland, for the upcoming international climate meeting titled COP 26, another related crisis has focused the attention of researchers the world over.It is the rapid extinction of species all over the globe, possibly as many as one million. In Argentina, efforts are under way to return some key animal species to their natural habitats.Science correspondent Miles O’Brien takes us to a place where, for the first time in seven decades, jaguars are able to once again roam free.
  • Miles O’Brien:Feeding time for some rare cats in a place of rare beauty, Argentina’s Ibera National Park.Biologist Pablo Guerra is focused on one small task aimed at solving a global crisis
  • Pablo Guerra Aldazabal, Rewilding Argentina:It’s just like a very little piece of work of what we really have to do to try to stop the massive extinction of the species.
  • Miles O’Brien:The species in question is the biggest cat in the Americas, the jaguar. These beautiful animals were hunted and poached to extinction in this part of Argentina about 70 years ago.They are in critical danger of vanishing completely. Only a few hundred are left elsewhere in the country. Pablo Guerra is part of a team from Rewilding Argentina, a conservation nonprofit embarked on an audacious campaign to reintroduce the jaguars to their long-lost home, a spectacular mash-up of the Everglades and the Serengeti that spans 1.7 million acres.He hides tasty morsels as if they were Easter eggs.
  • Pablo Guerra Aldazabal:It helps them to also to not to get so bored and to try to let their instinct maybe go out to express it. It’s amazing. I love it. For me, it’s a dream come true.
  • Miles O’Brien:Not just for him.The dream began in the mind of the late Doug Tompkins, founder of clothing companies North Face and Esprit, and an avid lover of the South American wilderness.
  • Doug Tompkins, Tompkins Conservation:I started to see that the things that we’re doing were incongruent with my thinking.
  • Miles O’Brien:He recorded this interview in 2011, four years before his untimely death in a kayaking accident.
  • Doug Tompkins:If you start going up against your own values, you start to get — you put yourself in an emotional and intellectual corner. This is what happened to me.
  • Miles O’Brien:It also happened to his wife, Kris Tompkins, another retail mogul. She was the CEO of Patagonia. Their ecological philanthropy began in 1991, when they started purchasing swathes of land in Southern Chile, creating the million-acre Douglas Tompkins National Park.
  • Kris Tompkins, Tompkins Conservation:We just got this thing rolling that ended up being 14 national parks and almost 15 million acres. We realized that just saving the land was actually just a strategy towards something else that we were really after, which was, how do you create fully functioning ecosystems?
  • Miles O’Brien:In Ibera, that meant a return of the jaguars. They acquired captive animals and brought them here to San Alonso Island in the middle of the park.We flew there with biologist Sebastian di Martino, conservation director of Rewilding Argentina. He and his team built a one of a kind jaguar breeding center, with Jurassic Park-style enclosures. The cubs learn to hunt by tapping into their instincts and from their mothers’ examples.The team takes great pains to avoid getting anywhere near the cubs, for fear they might lose their natural desire to steer clear from humans once set free.
  • Sebastion Di Martino, Rewilding Argentina:We look from afar, so we never look at the cubs directly. They don’t look at us. And we have several devices which we enter live prey inside the pen. And they don’t relate us with food provision.So, that way, we produce a kind of jaguar that can be released.
  • Miles O’Brien:The jaguars are the marquee species in the rewilding project, but there is a strong supporting cast as well.In fact, the team is focused on repairing several other broken links in the food chain. They have nurtured red-and-green macaws, bringing them back here for the first time in 150 years. They have also succeeded in returning pampas deer, and collared peccary to the ecosystem. They use radio and GPS signals to carefully track them.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:Even when we release them, we still watch them a lot to see if they are doing OK.
  • Miles O’Brien:So, you’re helicopter parents?
  • Sebastion Di Martino:Yes, something like that.(LAUGHTER)
  • Miles O’Brien:They are also dipping their toes into marine ecosystems. The top predator here was the giant river otter, also locally extinct for decades.They are teaching this pair, former residents of two European zoos, how to hunt for piranha.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:They are becoming very skillful on catching the fishes now.
  • Miles O’Brien:But they are not ignoring the top predator of all, humans, who, for generations, made their livings here hunting these beautiful animals for their valuable pelts.So the team worked hard to make this place a nexus of ecotourism, a place where living animals have value. The town of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, on the edge of the park, now depends on a steady stream of tourists here to see the animals and enjoy gaucho culture and traditions.Lifelong resident Diana Frete is the vice-mayor.Diana Frete, Vice Mayor of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini (through translator): The new generation in town understands that conservation is the way. That’s why it’s so important for us to work protecting this environment. We know where we are headed.
  • Miles O’Brien:Where the planet is headed is what ultimately energizes this mission.We are living in a midst of massive dying, an extinction crisis. Perhaps a million species disappear every year.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:I don’t think that it inevitable. I mean, we have many tools. The thing is that we have to start applying those tools to avoid the extinction.
  • Miles O’Brien:But will it all work?In January of 2021, they took a big step, cutting open a passageway to freedom for two of the cubs. They are now roaming free, their helicopter parents watching from afar. And they are proving themselves to be successful hunters, here feasting on a capybara, an overgrown guinea pig.In the midst of COVID, Kris Tompkins and Sebastian di Martino savored the moment remotely.
  • Kris Tompkins:It’s so emotional. And it’s — and it shows that it can be done. And this was always — it seems so obvious now, but it was such — it was such a big question.
  • Sebastion Di Martino:We are completely happy. You cannot describe how happy we are. And we are also kind of emotional.
  • Miles O’Brien:Since then, they have released five more jaguars. The hope, there will be a hundred of them roaming free in Ibera before too long.They and the other species are the missing pieces in nature’s exquisite puzzle. If all goes as planned, it might be an example of how humans can change their spots.

On The Poetry of Simon J. Ortiz ~ The Land Desk

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Like an atlas of the Four Corners Country in verse

Jonathan P. Thompson
Oct 20

Note: I wrote this piece in 2013 and it first appeared at hcn.org and remembered it while reading some of Ortiz’s poetry recently. I figured I should re-up it here.

About 20 years ago, my father gave me the book, Woven Stone, by Simon J. Ortiz. I was reading a lot of Indigenous writers at the time, such as Leslie Marmon SilkoN. Scott Momaday and Sherman Alexie. I was also reading a lot of poetry, from Richard Shelton to Rilke. Ortiz, a poet from Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, fit right in.

Woven Stone, more than 300 pages long, includes poetry written over many years.

As I tend to do with poetry, I also have read it over many years, picking it up from time to time, flipping to a random page, and reading a few poems. Mostly I’ve been drawn to those with vivid imagery and clear, simple emotion. “My Father’s Song”is perhaps my favorite. “Wanting to say things,” writes Ortiz, “I miss my father tonight.” He goes on to recite his father’s song, which is about planting corn at Aacqua (Acoma) and coming across the burrow nest of a mouse:

Very gently, he scooped tiny pink animals
into the palm of his hand
and told me to touch them.
We took them to the edge of the field and put them in the shade

of a sand moist clod.

I remember the very softness
of cool and warm sand and tiny alive
mice and my father saying things.

More recently, however, I’ve relied on Woven Stone as a reference book of sorts, giving me new insight into the Four Corners County. Amidst the evocative imagery and the powerful emotion is a chronicle of the Southwest, a clear-eyed historical account of environmental plunder, exploitation, oppression and the plight of the Indigenous people. 

Nor is Ortiz’s work limited to poetry. Several years ago, as I researched a story about Gallup, New Mexico, John Redhouse, a Navajo who has long fought against reservation border town racism and uranium mining, sent me a packet of stories about Larry Casuse, a Navajo activist who was killed in a firefight with Gallup police back in 1973. The packet included stories from a variety of media, even a New Yorker piece by Calvin Trillin. Because of the way the packet was put together, I began reading “We Shall Endure”—an account of a march memorializing Casuse—without knowing who wrote it. It turns out the author was Ortiz.

“Gallup is a Fever,” he wrote. “Being in Gallup is always pretty much the same feeling. It is a feeling of something not balanced well in the belly.” I had read a number of news pieces about Gallup during the 70s and 80s, but this spoke volumes. And that’s when I went back to Woven Stone and started reading, really reading, the poems.

Gallup, Indian Capital of the World,
shit geesus, the heat is impossible,
the cops wear riot helmets,
357 magnums and smirks, you better
not get into trouble and you better
not be Indian. Bail’s low though.
Indian Ceremonial August 7-10,
the traders bring their cashboxes,
the bars are standing room only
and have bouncers who are mean,
wear white hats and are white.

Gallup is a complicated place, and its relationship with the Navajo and Pueblo people native to the area is especially complex, a phenomenon perhaps best witnessed in the reaction to the Indian Ceremonial, which has taken place every year for decades. It showcases the dances and cultures of a number of tribes, and draws some 50,000 spectators each year, many of them Indigenous. But, to the bafflement of many white people, it was also the main target of the 60s and 70s activists like Redhouse and Casuse, who protested against the event under the banner of Indians Against Exploitation, or IAE. Redhouse explained in 1973 that the ceremonial exploited Indigenous culture for the benefit of local businessmen, with none of the profit going back to the Indians: “The original idea of the ceremonial is beautiful, but it’s been twisted around into something ugly.”

In just a few verses, Ortiz captures the complexity, and helps us understand what it felt like—and still feels like—to be an Indigenous person in Gallup. While he could be talking about almost any reservation border town in these verses, he’s not: Nearly every Ortiz poem is grounded in a specific place. “Ten miles / the other side of Nageezi, / we stopped / a mile south of the highway,” he writes, in “Buck Nez.” One could almost navigate the Four Corners region using Woven Stone as a poetic roadmap.

Before he became a poet, Ortiz worked for in the uranium mines and mills near Acoma. That work later inspired some of his fiercest work, in Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, For the Sake of the Land. This is not the fiery rant one might expect from the title. These poems are instead calm and circumspect, matter-of-factly detailing the ways corporations used Indigenous people—and sometimes others—as cheap, disposable labor to man the mines that tore up and poisoned the land and people. When the other miners, those from Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, and beyond, tried to organize and better the unsafe working conditions, writes Ortiz, “that jail full of Indians sure came in handy … The unions didn’t have much of a chance, and Grants just kept on booming.”

The poet’s worker’s-eye perspective is especially revealing in poems like “Ray’s Story,” in which he relates the story of Lacey, an Indian from Muskogee who worked on the crusher, the first place you worked after graduating from the labor crew.

Dangerous, no shit about that,
and you had to pick that stuff out
of the ore
before it went through the crusher
and plugged it up.

“Anyway, one night — I wasn’t on that shift — he was down there and I guess a mess of steel cable came through.” Lacey apparently grabbed the cable to keep it from going in the crusher and

then a curl
of the heavy cable must have tangled him up
and pulled him—yeah pulled him—
right down into the jaws
of that crusher.
It makes a hell of a racket
that nobody can hear nothing
and nobody heard Lacey
if he had a chance to yell at all.

In Woven Stone’s introduction, Ortiz writes about how he identified with the people he worked with in the uranium industry, mostly working-class white men from all over, because they weren’t far removed from their land-based backgrounds. They had followed the boom not to get rich, for the most part, but just to save up enough cash to go back home and buy some land or a house. In his poems, Ortiz sometimes expresses exasperation at their ignorance, especially of his and other Native cultures. But he also writes about them with deep compassion and sensitivity.

“To Change in a Good Way” is about Bill and Ida, two white Okies who came to work the mines. They befriend Pete, who also works at the mine, and Mary, who are from Laguna Pueblo. While the piece is fictional, its portrayal of everyday life is remarkably accurate, giving weight to the mundane without overdoing it. It reminds me a bit of Raymond Carver’s short stories in subject and style—or maybe I should say Carver’s stories reminds me of Ortiz’s work.

Finally, “Our Homeland, A National Sacrifice Area” should be required reading for anyone wanting to know about the history of the Southwest and the Pueblos, Acoma in particular. You might say it is Ortiz’s version of his own creation story, tracing his ancestral line back to those who built the structures at what are now known as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, in the context of colonialism. But it’s also a eulogy for the land from which he came, told with a mixture of verse and prose, jumping back and forth between imagery and exposition. An acerbic wit peeks through the poetry from time to time, as seen here in his description of Chaco and Mesa Verde:

The park service has guided tours,
printed brochures, clean rest rooms,
and the staff is friendly, polite,
and very helpful.
You couldn’t find a better example
of Americanhood anywhere.

Ortiz ends “Our Homeland” with a rallying cry:

We must have passionate concern for what is at stake. We must understand the experience of the oppressed, especially the racial and ethnic minorities, of this nation, by this nation and its economic interests. … Only when we are not afraid to fight against the destroyers, thieves, liars, exploiters who profit handsomely off the land and people will we know what love and compassion are. … And when we fight … we will win. We will win.

Ortiz is far more than just a poet—he is an observer, chronicler, historian, storyteller and, most importantly, a voice for the people and the land. As a journalist of the Southwest, I find Ortiz’s work informative. More than that, though, it’s humbling: No matter how much I struggle to find the right combination of words to communicate this land and its people, I know I’ll come up short. Ortiz shows us that the best, most truthful language with which to communicate this harsh and rich landscape is poetry.

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Mountain Home … The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, David Hinton

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Brothers and Sisters,
We danced in the sunlight all summer and stood in stunned awe by the autumn brilliance. But now, It’s Coming. Soon all the leaves will fly away. The season of the Gloaming, when the Irish black dog of depression can come shit on your doorstep, when the duskiness at 4PM can lead one to contemplating single malts or Baja beaches, when facing 
another long winter challenges our fiction of being High Altitude Heros. But just at this juncture of seasons, of our lives, we pull down from a top shelf David Hinton’s Mountain Home,  The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China. 

Many to most of the poems, as was the aesthetic of that form, deal with this time of autumnal change and the reflection it offers to those who choose to wander in wilderness. A deep gasho to sensi Jerry Roberts for offering up a selection of these ancient poems as this time of The Gloaming ensues.

Edgar Boyles

Wang Wei ( 701-761)

A NEW ODD COUPLE ON THE RIGHT: ROGER STONE AND AMMON BUNDY ~ MOTHER JONES

An extremist candidate for Idaho governor has backing from one of Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers.

Ammon Bundy announces his candidacy for governor of Idaho on June 19, 2021 in Boise, Idaho.Nathan Howard/GettyFight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Anti-government extremist Ammon Bundy, who is running for governor in Idaho, is celebrating an endorsement from longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone—a step that unites what might seem like disparate strands of the American right.

“He is a renowned infighter, a seasoned practitioner of hard-edge politics, a veteran strategist and a political fixer,” Bundy said in a statement Sunday. “Roger Stone understands clearly the threat freedom in this country faces and is confident that I will not compromise in securing liberty for the people of Idaho.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/KObJmSbzN3U?feature=oembed

Boosted by anti-maskers, Bundy is waging a long-shot bid to unseat Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little, who is expected to seek reelection, with a “Keep Idaho IDAHO” slogan and pledges to take illegal actions like immediately banning all abortions and seizing all federal land in the state if elected. Bundy led the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and was involved in a 2014 showdown in Nevada pitting his father, Cliven Bundy, against agents from the Bureau of Land Management. Last year, he took part in an armed invasion of the Idaho state legislature related to COVID restrictions. But, as Stephanie Mecimer detailed in Mother Jones earlier this year, Bundy is also a seemingly earnest proponent of libertarian views. He had planned to join a Black Lives Matter protest in Boise last year, though it didn’t work out because he refused to wear a mask. And Bundy has damaged his own standing on the right by criticizing some of Donald Trump’s authoritarian tendencies—in 2018, he compared Trump to Hitler, and he has faulted January 6 rioters as “confused” and “Trump worshipping.” 

Stone, a self-styled dirty trickster, is not earnest. Stone is a liar. In 2019, he was convicted of five counts of making false statements to Congress about his efforts to act as go-between for the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks in 2016. He was also convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation and witness tampering. Trump pardoned Stone late last year, just as Stone was promoting Trump’s efforts to use lies and anti-democratic means to remain in power. Stone amplified Trump’s false claims about election fraud and mingledwith Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, including several who are now facingconspiracy charges for the January 6 attack. Stone also raised money for “security” for the January 6 protest and urged Trump backers to help stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral win that day. “This is nothing less than an epic struggle for the future of this country between dark and light, between the godly and godless, between good and evil,” Stone said in a January 5 speech in Washington. “And we will win this fight or America will step off into a thousand years of darkness.” 

Stone is a hustler who currently earns a living by peddling his brand as a hard-edged Trump booster and libertine at various far-right conferences, where he calls Trump “the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.” Ammon Bundy, by contrast, offers himself as a true believer, a family-man, a Mormon devotee, and a committed ideologue who is willing to go to jail—or to cause the cancelation of his son’s football game by refusing to wear a mask. 

But as Mecimer notes, Bundy is “oblivious or indifferent” to the reality that he is enabling right-wing fans who do not share his scruples. Bundy practices nonviolent resistance. But he doesn’t always advocate that others follow suit. “I’m worried about violence not being used when it should be used,” he said. “Violence is not necessarily a bad thing when it’s used correctly.”

Betsy Gaines Quammen, author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West, told Mencimer that Bundy has “tapped into a very angry group of people who, like him, think they’re victims. He told me very clearly, ‘I’m not the conspiracy theory guy, I’m not the QAnon guy.’ But what he is is this guy who is helping with cross-pollination. He’s got the militia people, the anti-vax people, the people who are pro-Trump no matter what—even though he isn’t. These are the guys that Ammon is inspiring.”

A pardoned felon and former adviser to a disgraced president endorsing a long-shot candidate in Idaho doesn’t matter much on its own. But Bundy is continuing to cross-pollinate, uniting with Stone—and the authoritarian Trumpism he has faulted in the past—in a far-right coalition that includes some of the most extreme elements in American politics. That’s more than a little scary.

NEW PROJECTIONS FOR LOW COLORADO RIVER FLOWS SPEED NEED FOR DRAMATIC CONSERVATION ~ The Colorado Sun

Conservation groups say revised Bureau of Reclamation predictions are welcome realism showing Colorado needs to save water now

Michael Booth

Oct. 20, 2021

A pair of fisherman cast lines into the Gunnison River as it flows into the eastern edge of the shrinking Blue Mesa reservoir Monday September 6, 2021aerial photo. (William Woody, Special to the Colorado Sun)

A new federal system for projecting Colorado River water flows in the next two years confirms dire news about drought draining the West’s key reservoirs, and increases pressure on Colorado to conserve water immediately to avoid future demands from down-river states, conservation groups say. 

The federal Bureau of Reclamation’s new system for projecting vital Colorado River flows in the next two years drops earlier, wetter years out of the historical reference, and gives more weight to two recent decades of drought. The regular October update this week shows water runoff into Lake Powell, the storage basin for four Upper Colorado Basin states, was only 32% of average for the 2021 water year, which runs from October to September. 

The new projections for the next two years show that even with federal officials draining portions of Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge and Navajo reservoirs to get more water to Lake Powell’s hydroelectric generating station, a moderate winter would leave the Colorado River in the same crisis a year from now. And a low-water scenario this coming winter season would drop Lake Powell well below the minimum level required to generate electricity by November 2022

In addition to federal officials trying to protect hydroelectric generation at Lake Powell, and at Lake Mead as the downstream water bank for the Lower Basin states, water compacts govern how much Colorado River water needs to go downstream for use by agriculture and cities. 

Colorado and the other Upper Basin states of Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico are required under interstate compacts to deliver 7.5 million acre feet of water a year into Lake Powell, in a 10-year rolling average. If enough bad water years ruin that average under the compact, Colorado must find water to send downriver to Nevada, Arizona and California — and 80% to 85% of Colorado’s available water is used for agriculture. The great majority of Upper Basin water originates from Colorado’s high country snowpack. https://omny.fm/shows/the-colorado-sun/playlists/podcast/embed?style=artwork&image=1&share=1&download=1&description=1&subscribe=1&playlistimages=1&playlistshare=1&foreground=000000&background=ffffff&highlight=fcd232

“We don’t have any more time to talk about it,” Matt Rice, co-chair of the Water for Colorado Coalition and Director of American Rivers’ Colorado River Basin Programs, said after reviewing the latest Bureau of Reclamation update. 

Starting with the October update, the bureau begins the historical average calculations in 1991, instead of the 1981 cutoff used until now. The 1980s were much wetter in the Colorado River Basin, Rice said. 

“These projections are worse than they have been in the past, but they’re also more realistic,” Rice said. Many conservation groups find that a positive step despite the bad news, Rice added, because it increases pressure on state water officials, local water conservancy districts, agriculture interests, cities and environmentalists to work faster on solutions. 

At the same time, Rice said, the updated numbers should drive home the reality that there is 20% less water available now in the Colorado River than as recently as 2000. “There’s no more flexibility in the system, right? We’re looking over the edge of the cliff.”

Water conservation experts in Colorado have worked for years to avoid their worst-case scenario, which is a “call” or a sudden demand from federal managers to deliver more water for hydropower or to satisfy the compacts with the Lower Basin. Without advance planning, a call would force the state water engineer and local conservancy districts to cut irrigators’ water rights based only on the seniority of their water-use rights. 

While state and local officials have been working with nonprofits on conservation plans, there are legal tangles that could require new legislation, and seemingly endless ethical questions about which parts of the state would suffer the most water loss, said Sonja Chavez, director of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District. 

Blue Mesa Reservoir in her region has been nearly drained by drought and by federal officials taking extra from Western reservoirs to solidify Lake Powell’s power pool. Blue Mesa is projected to soon be down to 27% full, Chavez said. Blue Mesa was 33% full in mid-September, according to Bureau of Reclamation records. 

State and private officials have cooperated to experiment with “demand-management” programs, where instead of buying agriculture land and its accompanying water rights outright, they buy the right to rent the water for a few years out of a decade. That rented water can be sent downstream in dry years, and in theory the restoration of water in other years should preserve the farm or ranch land while providing income for the farmer. 

But renting or buying of water rights on the scale to meet compact demands would require hundreds of millions of dollars, with no current pot of money to pull from, water experts say. Colorado officials have mentioned the possibility of using money from the infrastructure stimulus plan currently under debate by Congress, but it’s uncertain whether the bill will pass, and how much water-related money will be in it if it does.

“There are a lot of questions that really haven’t been resolved,” Chavez said. “Who are the cuts going to come from? How’s it going to be distributed equitably? Who’s going to shepherd that water?” 

Gunnison officials have also spent much time and energy to protect the sage grouse, a threatened species, Chavez noted. If a statewide demand management program sought across-the-board cuts, and “if we got rid of 10% of our wet meadows, how does that impact the bird?” she asked.

The largest amounts of water to be conserved are in agriculture, by far, but Front Range residents must be part of the statewide discussion about finding more water for the downstream Colorado River, Rice and Chavez said. 

“You’re not going to get as much out of a city compared to what is the amount of irrigation water diverted for agriculture,” Chavez said. “But there’s also agriculture on the Front Range that benefits from our transmountain diversions,” some of which are created and controlled by urban water departments. “That has to be part of the picture.”