Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A once radical Mitch Friedman now collaborates for a wilder Northwest

That last fact has both everything and nothing to do with Friedman's recent run of wildlife-habitat successes, most created by some degree of quiet collaboration with traditional environmental foes such as federal land managers, ranchers, loggers and hound hunters. He is probably violating numerous green-movement codes even broaching this subject, but Friedman at 48 has achieved what a twenty-something Friedman, the rabble-rousing Earth First! tree-sitter, could not have imagined: demonstrable success in the battle to save wild critters many Northwesterners hold dear. It's true: Friedman is declaring victory in at least one battle for the Northwest environment. "The Cascades are wilder today than they have been in 50 years," he says. "Fewer clear cuts, fewer logging roads, fewer people on those roads." Most of it was done quietly, by tweaking federal policies, securing conservation easements or using money from Seattle-area tech titans to buy land outright. The payoff: critical habitat "connectivity," allowing animals to migrate between islands of land still "wild." Invisible to most of us, these pathways have been a boon to black bears and coyotes, lynx, cougar and fishers. Moose. Woodland caribou. And now, the rapidly recolonizing — and intensely polarizing — northern gray wolf...more

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