Wildlife conservation is a public priority, but Santa Cruz citizens sleep while politicians and business leaders threaten to deprive future generations of opportunities for the wildlife experiences we have today.
National poll data indicate that 70% of Americans self identify as ‘conservationists.’ Although there is no local data, you would expect an even higher percentage for our progressive community. In the past 35 years, the public has supported a cadre of local conservationists in just the first steps of conserving wildlife of our county – progressive land use restrictions and large scale protection of open space. Unfortunately, the public have checked out, abandoning the crucial next step in protecting wildlife – protecting our parks from being loved to death.
The beaches and parks our community has protected are now threatened because they are global tourist destinations. Politicians and business leaders are maximizing short term profit by packing in as many recreational visitors as possible, threatening wildlife. Any of the public still paying attention is being duped into believing that any amount of recreation in our open spaces is harmless. Every organization owning/protecting open space is increasingly opening their lands to a flood of people; their websites, news releases, tours, and talk swell with pride of new “access.”
Flooding parks with throngs of visitors will drive wildlife from lands that were originally protected for conservation. This is unfair to future generations, who will experience the trees, but not the diverse and alive, critter filled forests we are so lucky to have today.
WHAT TO DO?
As you hear about proposals to increase numbers of recreational visitors, numbers of trails, ‘access points,’ parking lots, etc., I hope you will ask “what do biologists say about impacts to wildlife?” If you, like me, feel like we probably have enough and it is time for better planning for the wildlife, speak out where you can. For instance, against a National Monument designation for our North Coast. And, please, vote for politicians that seek biologist counsel as much as they listen to business leaders.