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Sherman’s Nomination Brings Obama Enviros to 34
The latest is Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. By Ray Ring, High Country News

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

23 Responses to Ray Ring says Obama's Admin loaded with environmentalists

  1. avatar matt bullard says:

    That’s good news. There has been some grumbling here about the big-name appointments and the lack of change, but I would suggest that it will take a lot longer than 6-8 months for actual, on-the-ground changes to be seen. Consider also the burrowing that the Bush appointees have done and the time it takes to get new appointees confirmed by the Senate. We must be patient.

  2. avatar JimT says:

    I hate to be a wet blanket, but most of these “enviros” have little to no experience in advocacy, must less a lifelong commitment that so many others from the “left-leaning” (Ray’s term) groups have had. Most have a history of “consensus” or “collaboration” that I find suspicious; ie, the new head of OSM instead of unwavering focus on environmental protection and enhancement. Don’t any of you find it a tad odd that no one from the so called left groups has been named to any positions? You think that was the luck of the draw, or another reflection of business as usual for Western land and animal issues? It would have been great if Salazar or Obama or Vilsak had saw their way clear to bringing in some folks who would have a different perspective based on decades and decades of experience dealing with the antics of the extractive industries AND the land management agencies. I would be willing to be patient, but I frankly don’t see anyone there who is a lands and animal person, and that is the agenda that is largely being ignored or stepped on these days, whether it be wolves, grizzlies, polar bears, grouse, or the siting issues associated with these massive wind and solar farms, along with transmission lines and the accompanying infrastructure.

  3. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    I like how Ring qualifies “environmentalist” :

    I’m defining “environmental group” somewhat loosely. I’ve included progressive or organic farming groups, for instance, and one unusual state agency (the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund, which uses lottery revenues to buy open space and wildlife habitat).

    Most of these groups are centrist or in the conservative wing of the environmental movement, not the left wing. Environmental Defense Fund and American Rivers seem to have the most representation in the Obama admin.

    No lefties like Western Watersheds or Center for Biological Diversity folks on the list. No Sierra Club, no Greenpeace etc.

    Hmmmm …

  4. avatar Ken Cole says:

    I agree JimT,

    Obama’s MO seems to be start from the middle and compromise to the right on most issues. I wouldn’t mind if he started from the left then compromised to the middle because that is what I think most people thought they were voting for but when you start from a weak position from the beginning you don’t get anything resembling a moderate policy. The right wing knows this better than anyone and we see that they are fine with making up lies to force the issues their way. When will the left learn this simple truth?

  5. avatar JimT says:

    I understand the EDF and NRDC stuff..big corporate boards, access to money, centrist positions would appeal, but I never thought of American River’s board in quite that way. I guess if you don’t work “with” the corporate world as part of your mission statement, you are suspect when it comes to being credible to consider joining the Administration. And heaven forbid your group actually SUED the USFS, or DOI to make them obey the law and implementing regulations. Kiss of death.

    I don’t think we, the environmental community have EVER had appointments in these environmental agencies who, across the board, felt that protection of the resource and its inhabitants was its primary goal. I do wonder what the West would be like if we had a few of those in a row…

  6. Obama is paying dearly for disdain for forcefulness. Environmental issues are just a sideline to the general tone of the Administration of beginning where you want to be and negotiating downward. If you oppose his policies, I guess that’s good.

    Bipartisanship is something you say you support. If it is obvious they hate you, you are a fool to try practice it.

  7. avatar JimT says:

    Ralph, can you email that pearl of wisdom to Obama’s chief of staff? ~S~

  8. avatar Jay says:

    I second that–it’s a failed experiment. Time to put the hammer down and push the GOP off to the side and ignored, where they belong. Their primary goal right now is torpedoing anything B. does, so why even deal with them?

  9. avatar Layton says:

    Does being an “environmentalist” somehow imply that you have to also be a flaming, clear left of the left field foul line, liberal ??

  10. No Layton, conservation should cut across that left-right division, but in today’s overheated political simplifications it seems like the political activists want to put everything on one side or the other.

  11. avatar JimT says:

    No, Layton, it means you put the health of the resources and ecosystems upon which we all depend for life on a equal importance level (hell, sometimes surpassing) as that of the humans. It means obeying the laws and regulations, not looking for ways around them to maximize personal or corporate gain. It means sharing the planet with other species based on what is best for all affected, if you want to get all GAIA-ish about it, instead of seeking dominion over all for human benefits.

    I would suggest you get ahold of by Blumenthal called Republican Gomorrah. It details how the Republican Party has become a party of right wing extremists who kowtow to the radical Christian right. Frankly, if I had to choose a side of the foul line I would be on all the time, it definitely wouldn’t be the right field foul pole. I used to have respect for some aspects of the Republican Party because of the moderates like Chaffee, or Snowe, or Jeffords, but it is clear they are hanging on by a thread in that party, and Joe Wilson and his ilk are now the dominant brain trust…how sad..~S~

  12. avatar Layton says:

    Thanks Ralph,

    Sometimes I just can’t help but wonder.

    Even tho’ I pretty much disagree with the philosophy on wolves here on this blog, I really do agree on some other things — dams, fish, etc. When all the political ranting and raving starts I just kind of sit, watch and wonder.

    Oh well, I’m going (gasp!) hunting for a couple of weeks, maybe some of the rhetoric will die down — after all, it’ll mostly just be the choir singing. 8)

  13. avatar timz says:

    “I second that–it’s a failed experiment. Time to put the hammer down and push the GOP off to the side and ignored, where they belong. Their primary goal right now is torpedoing anything B. does, so why even deal with them?”

    Yea, I sure miss the spirit of cooperation we’ve had in Congress for the last 30 years, right up until Obama got elected.

  14. avatar Layton says:

    Jim T.,

    Now THAT’S more of the reply I was expecting!! While I mostly vote Republican, I like to believe that I am still capable of THINKING about the choices on the ballot.

    To simply vote one side or the other simply because of the party they belong to – IMHO – is patently stupid and the cause of much of the gridlock that goes on in our nation’s capitol today.

    Before Obama, it was the Democrats that were wearing the “obstructionist” label. Now guess which party I hear it about. To me, unfortunately, it seems that there isn’t a nickle’s worth of difference in the two.

    As far as putting animals on the same (or higher) footing than humans —- well, you evidently have a different belief set than I do. The environment — yes. One specific species in that environment – to the detriment of all others — nope, can’t buy it.

    For example, it seems that — because one group of people decided to introduce (re-introduce, whatever) an apex predator into the Northwest, now some folks on this blog would advocate humans moving out, changing their lives, surrendering their pets, etc., etc. EVEN IF THAT LIFE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR 50 YEARS.

    Somebody changed the rules to match THEIR way of thinking. And they got a “pet” judge somplace to go along with it.

    Sorry, I just don’t agree.

  15. avatar Ken Cole says:

    “One specific species in that environment – to the detriment of all others — nope, can’t buy it.”

    I agree with that sentiment but the same could be said about elk. It seems that many hold elk on the same high pedestal that you accuse wolf advocates of doing.

    We could go back another step in history and say that those lives which have been established in the west for 50 years benefitted from the eradication of Native Americans, grizzlies, wolves, and many other species to boot. Where the line is drawn is what is at issue and you seem to have drawn it to benefit your point of view just as you claim others have done.

  16. avatar Layton says:

    Ken,

    I thought about that sentence when I wrote it — it was a pretty easy comeback. I left it there because I thought I could defend it — by the way, I didn’t mention elk.

    We could also go back a couple of more steps and say that anything after T Rex benefited from the fact that he was gone — but I would think that would be a bit silly. Where do YOU draw the line?

    To me it would be a point somewhere that there can be no going back FROM. Some sort of a utopia where the deer and the antelope play is, in most cases, pretty clearly impossible. I see the current desires of a lot of the enviro crowd as wanting that — it aint gonna happen!

    Grizzlies aren’t going back to California. Wolves aren’t going back to Central Park – or Ann Morrison for that matter. My belief is that wolves are NOT going peacefully back into previous environments. At least not in the numbers that seem to be popular with the “for” crowd these days.

    As to the elk. I would submit that they are a fairly benign species. They are fun to watch. They taste good, and in PROPERLY MANAGED numbers don’t cause harm the the environment that we all profess to want to protect.

    Wolves on the other hand, are fun to watch (if you like blood sports 8) ), don’t eat worth a darn from what I have heard and DO cause harm to other species that live in that environment that we keep speaking about. Oh yea, I forgot, they also contribute to something that is called Biological Diversity — couldn’t that same need be filled by some sort of butterfly or humming bird that we don’t have now?? (yes, I’m speaking with tongue in cheek)

    It just seems (to me) that there are other critters and species that legitimately could use help and not be to the detriment of other animals as the wolves are.

  17. avatar Ken Cole says:

    I submit that, while wolves may impact elk populations (in some places), I think that elk negatively impact far more species through their impacts than wolves do. In fact, I submit that wolves positively impact many species by changing the behavior of elk. That being said, I think it would be of far greater benefit if wolves could impact livestock in the same way but that is not allowed.

    The management of elk you seem to be referring to only addresses numbers and not so much behavior. The values of elk and wolves seem to be of a more narrow anthropocentric nature to you while I think they are of a greater, yet still anthropocentric nature to me. It serves humans and wildlife alike, in the long run, to have healthy and thriving populations and ecosystems which are less heavily “managed” by humans.

    This all leads to one obvious conclusion (to me), remove livestock from public lands so that elk, wolves, and many other species may benefit. That’s where real negative impacts on the lands will be alleviated and both hunters and wildlife will benefit.

  18. avatar Layton says:

    Wow Ken,

    Do you and kt manage to “spin” everything (and almost every discussion) so that it is caused by public lands grazing??

    You said:

    “I submit that, while wolves may impact elk populations (in some places), I think that elk negatively impact far more species through their impacts than wolves do. In fact, I submit that wolves positively impact many species by changing the behavior of elk”

    “The management of elk you seem to be referring to only addresses numbers and not so much behavior”

    Is there a way to manage behavior of ANY wild species? Badly managed wolves (to many) kill things — badly managed elk (to many) eat to much grass ??

    I don’t see how you can get away from the fact that elk are “managed” (I know you don’t like that word). Wolves right now, to a large extent are NOT.

    Sure WS takes a few out, but by and large they breed, kill and eat as they please. This is not the case with any other species that comes to mind. Do you have an example?

    Yes, wolves impact elk. Especially when they kill and eat them. How is it that a well managed elk herd would impact “far more species” than the wolves do? Wouldn’t they just take the grass away from those cows that you dispise so much??

  19. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Wolves have one characteristic that you left out. They, to a large extent, manage their own numbers once they have reached carrying capacity. They don’t NEED to be managed and elk don’t NEED to be managed either. That is a value that you have not me.

    Grizzly bears, hummingbirds, warblers, orioles, eagles, osprey, herons, need I go on?

    Do you always have to have some snarky comment to everything you disagree with? You generally have little to add to an argument you just try to incite an argument.

  20. avatar JimT says:

    Layton…if you haven’t left yet…~S~

    1. Didn’t say you were incapable of thinking at the ballot box. I implied the Republican party has largely abandoned its historical principles to placate a voting group whose members are extreme in their approaches to issues (shooting docs, burning clinics) at times, rely on rhetoric rather than facts most of the time (creationism vs. evolution), etc. Read the book.

    2. Who said I voted based on party? I was registered Independent in Vermont (mostly because it allowed me to vote in both parties’ primaries), and voted for Jim Jeffords in his two elections I was there because I thought he was a better man, had a decent record, and had principles he stayed true to. Unfortunately for the Republicans, those kind of representatives are increasingly rare, and I can’t support their general viewpoints on most things regardless of what party they are representing.

    3. I find it interesting, like Ken said, you draw the line in the sand about species in such a way that it benefits your point of view…the status quo, in other words. The pendulum with regards to human interaction, use of, and exploitation of the environment has been so far in the direction of the extractive industry and the commercial prioritization of the resource it is disgusting, often in violation of applicable laws and regulations. To even begin to restore a balance between humans and other species will require the human end of the equation to give up some things and activities….logging, road building, development, ecosystem fragmentation, growing rice in a desert environment (Aridzona) and so on. What it seems like your point of view comes down to is that you like it the way it is, and you aren’t willing to change your habits or views to accommodate efforts to restore animals…and plants and fish…to anything even close to resembling traditional habitats. Your example of wolves in Central Park is just a red herring-Glenn Beck-Hannity kind of sound bite response to a serious issue.

    4. Never said the changes or sacrifices needed are only for wolves. It includes all sorts of species, four footed, winged, and finned. Wolves hit a hot button for certain interest groups out here who don’t want to share…grazing and big game hunting interests mostly. Humans have been using the environment out here for the benefit of ONE species for over a hundred years now, at the expense of hundreds of others. The great irony here is that we, in our greed and deliberate ignorance of science, are laying the groundwork for our own hard times. If we had taken a more balanced look from the beginning….

  21. avatar Layton says:

    Ken,

    “Do you always have to have some snarky comment to everything you disagree with? You generally have little to add to an argument you just try to incite an argument.”

    Please, if you have a way to do it — compare the number of “snarky” comments from me (on things I disagree with) and the number of the same kind of retorts from your illustrious self.

    Of course you consider anything I say as not adding anything, because I disagree with you most of the time. Imagine what I think of your contributions for the most part. I wouldn’t expect anything else from you.

    Jim T.

    Sorry if I thought, judging on a couple of comments that you made in an earlier post;

    “Frankly, if I had to choose a side of the foul line I would be on all the time, it definitely wouldn’t be the right field foul pole. ”

    “I would suggest you get ahold of by Blumenthal called Republican Gomorrah. It details how the Republican Party has become a party of right wing extremists who kowtow to the radical Christian right. ”

    that you might just vote Democratic.

    Guess I read to much into them.

    ” I find it interesting, like Ken said, you draw the line in the sand about species in such a way that it benefits your point of view”

    Now really, would you expect me to draw a line in the sand that benefits someone else’s point of view?? 8)

    “To even begin to restore a balance between humans and other species will require the human end of the equation to give up some things and activities….logging, road building, development, ecosystem fragmentation, growing rice in a desert environment (Aridzona) and so on.”

    This one is interesting — I guess you are right on in a way. I do NOT think it is fair or right that people who have the misfortune to live in country that has recently, in a way that they could not control or even have a voice about, become wolf habitat, should change or even abandon their lives to animals. I would feel the same way if it were Grizzly Bear, fruit bat or titmouse habitat.

    By the way, if we, as humans, give up all these things — where will we live, what will we eat, etc., etc.? Do you REALLY think it could be done? I don’t and I guess I’m much to pragmatic to even pay lip service to the idea.

    When you say “read the book” are you still referring to the “Republican Gomorrah” title?? Hell, who knows, I might try it, I haven’t been sleeping well lately.

  22. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Does being an “environmentalist” somehow imply that you have to also be a flaming, clear left of the left field foul line, liberal ?

    That is not historically accurate Layton. Theodore Roosevelt, who one can argue is a father of conservation was Republican. Also, Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act. Those two were not exactly liberal. Your idea is a pretty modern idea.

  23. avatar JimT says:

    No, Layton, I usually do end up voting for Democratic stands on issues because the Republican stands since Regan have become so extreme in their bias towards corporations, and the deliberate efforts to dismantle the Federal government to the point of being totally dysfunctional in all areas except the ability to get us into war. Add in the environmental degradation, blind opposition to health care reform (insurance lobby has strong influences in that party), the takeover by folks on the radical Christian Right….I could go on.

    The Dems are by no means an entity without flaws; I just think the mistakes they make are largely of incompetence, not deliberate meanness of spirit, or efforts to subvert the Constitution and civil rights that seemed to be the specialty of the Bush-Cheney years. So, yeah, my votes are usually along the Democratic Party issue end of things, but not always. Depends on the issue. I don’t support this current effort by Obama in Afghanistan; I don’t support his wanting to drop the public option that might force private insurance to actually pay attention to consumers and their wishes for equitable premiums and no more screwing around with the doc-patient relationship with endless exceptions. I don’t support Obama’s wanting to “move on” without taking a hard look at the Bush Cheney folks’ efforts to subvert the laws on torture and hold them accountable. And I don’t support his general approach on the environmental issues so far with almost exclusive focus on energy

    Layton, the local folks DID have a voice..read the history of rhe wolf reintroduction on all the hearings, etc. before the decision was made…just like other Federal programs. The fact that a different decision was made doesn’t negate that fact. And, I am betting IF you go back and did an analysis of those who objected, the large majority would be grazing interests who depend on FEDERAL land and welfare subsidies to make a living, and the big game interests who make money shooting elk, the bigger the better, despite recent science that says that by taking the biggest and best of a species, hunters are actually harming the long term survival of that species,including commercial and sport fishing industries as well.

    Find the book online and read it on your trip. But I will tell you..the whole gun show experience doesn’t come off well…VBG…

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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