How to protect the West

Darcy Hitchcock

Rewilding isn’t just about wildlife. It can also help us address climate change and wildfires. Twenty scientists have created a plan to connect huge swaths of Federal lands, creating corridors for animals to move and migrate from increasing heat. The only challenge: cheap grazing permits would be eliminated on 29 percent of the land currently available for grazing.

A new paper written by 20 wildlife biologists and ecologists and published in the journal BioScience this month offers a simple, cost-effective solution to many of the problems plaguing the West: climate change, a loss of biodiversity, and even mega-fires. The authors suggest we replace livestock grazing across large swaths of federal public lands with protected habitat for two controversial and seemingly unrelated species—wolves and beavers.

The plan includes compensating the ranchers. Interestingly, only a small fraction, two percent, of the country’s beef supply come from cattle roaming public lands anyway.


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