Friday, July 31, 2020

A Showdown Over Elk In Paradise?

Todd Wilkinson

...For all that Paradise Valley represents as a fountainhead of visual awe, the living is not easy for those who steward it’s most coveted, valuable and threatened asset—its open space, he asserts. Tilt is author of a new report, “Elk in Paradise: Conserving Migratory Wildlife and Working Lands in Montana’s Paradise Valley” published by the Bozeman-based organization Property and Environment Research Center ( PERC). Policymakers and even those who blithely pass through the valley believing it is adequately safeguarded may be in for an abrupt wake-up call. Over the years, PERC, which turned 40 in 2020, has been a pioneer in what is called “free-market environmentalism,” espousing the conviction that economic incentives are a more potent force in achieving better environmental outcomes than government regulation...Although Greater Yellowstone’s 22.5 million acres contains massive expanses of public lands, four or five million acres of working ranches and private land—located mostly in mountain valleys along rivers—are crucial to phenomena that transcend borders such a migrations, clean water, even confronting the crisis of exotic noxious weeds impacting rangeland...Private lands provide crucial winter range for wildlife and function as connective travel corridors for wild hooved animals and predators. Arthur Middleton, an ecologist who works with the Wyoming Migration Initiative, the US Geological Survey, the universities of Wyoming and California, and who spends his summers in Cody, says that 80 percent of Greater Yellowstone’s elk rely upon open, unfragmented private land at some time of the year...MORE

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