The giant Palouse earthworm can’t be found—yet it’s dividing the Palouse

Giant Palouse earthwormAn interesting article about an earthworm that hasn’t been seen more than 4 times in the last 100 years. The Palouse is a region of Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington which was predominated by prairie but is now predominated by winter wheat and other crops. This is also the area where the appaloosa breed of horses originated.

Great White: Rare worm vs. farmers
by Leah Sottile – Boise Weekly

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

55 Responses to Great White: Rare worm vs. farmers

  1. avatar Save bears says:

    What if she found the last one?

  2. avatar Carl says:

    Great story. hopefully not SB.

  3. avatar mikepost says:

    I found this comment on the article and it does raise some questions.
    “Coupla questions from someone new to this subject: (1) If the Palouse worm can’t exist without the Palouse prairie, how is it that it’s been found at Ellensburg, which is 150 miles across the Columbia basin from the Palouse prairie, and in Lewiston, which is way down in the Snake River canyon? (2) Steve Paulson says “The worm can’t exist without the prairie…” – so how is it that half of the four sightings in the past 100 years, i.e. Ding Johnson’s and Fender’s, have been in forested areas?”

    Sounds like the article may be a bit skewed in favor of listing. Something not unknown where CBD is involved.

  4. avatar Save bears says:

    I agree Mike,

    I read that same passage a few times, I think a whole bunch more research needs to be done, perhaps somebody focused in on this particular issue before we start calling for listing and restrictions. Actually proof of only 4 worms in 100 years, is really pretty thin evidence to push for listing. Not that I agree with the way the farmers got the land and what they have done in many areas, but I also don’t think uprooting them at this point with so little evidence available is the correct way to proceed either.

    A lot more investigation needs to be done

  5. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    I was raised in Palouse country for my first 20 years; my grandfather raised a large garden and many flowers. He did all his work with a shovel, hoe, and rake; the worm must indeed be rare as he never spoke of them and he turned a lot of dirt over 50 years. Pushing for protection now does seem to be premature.

    Does anyone have a good source to read regarding the ESA and private property.

  6. avatar Tilly says:

    I strongly disagree with previous posters re: how it is premature to seek ESA protection for a species so incredibly rare that is rarely found. Anybody heard of the precautionary principle? What is the alternative? Waiting until we have firm evidence that it is indeed extinct or on the verge of extinction, when it is too late to do anything about it??

    Kudos to Friends of the Clearwater for advocating for the worm.

  7. avatar Save bears says:

    Lets run on the side of caution, I understand the thought process, but there is no proof that this species even exists any longer, it has been 5 years since one was found and what happened to it? It is now sitting on a biologists desk. If you doing any research at all on this subject, you will find the habitat is gone, only 1% of what is claimed to be the habitat for this worm, the rest no longer exists.

    I agree further study is warranted, but I also feel we should know for a fact that this is a viable species with a chance before we start telling land owners what they should do with their 3 or 4 generation farms.

    We have now listed polar bears because of what might happen in the future, which I feel as a pro wildlife biologist was premature, especially in light of what has been revealed in the last few weeks. I also understand, that sometimes we are not going to save them all, and really I don’t know if we should, once again, man is interfering in what might be part of the whole process of nature…

  8. avatar mikepost says:

    Unfortunately the ESA does not recognize extinction as a normal part of the evolutionary process, which it is. A good example of where this worm thing could go is the condor. I don’t really want to open that “can of worms” if you will but the condor is an example of a functionaly extinct species that cannot exist in the wild in viable numbers without permanent direct assistance from man. The condor effort has had significant and wide ranging impacts to both the public and private land owners not to mention on-going direct tax payer funding well over $40,000,000. Some folks in the conservation business believe that has been a serious misuse of resources that could have aided many more endangered species with greater positive result to the environment generally and that this effort was begun without a clear understanding of where the process would evenually end up. Had we known then that there would be this kind of permanent investment of resources in monitoring, captive breeding, health care, micro trash nest cleaning, etc, etc, I am guessing the decision to go forward would have been subject to much more rigorous debate about cost/benefit and environmental triage of all endangered species. We will never be able to save all endangered species at any cost.

  9. avatar Tilly says:

    Save bears (when practical):

    If we take your course of action, and you’re wrong, meaning the species was hanging on but no action was taken to save it, the consequence is a lost species. Extinction.

    If we take Friends of the Clearwater’s course of action, and list the species, and they are wrong, meaning the species is already extinct, or maybe wonderfully abundant and not in need of listing, the consequence is slight tweaking of the handful of government activities on the Palouse. Which would probably have ancillary benefits to many other resources such as soil and water quality.

    Gee, which is worse?

    And your assumption that ESA listing will cause draconian regulation of private land is simply wrong. Private land is barely regulated by the ESA– only direct harming of species (“taking”) is forbidden. Consultation only kicks in for federal actions.

  10. avatar Save bears says:

    Why the personal hit?(When Practical?) I simply stated my opinion as have you!

    In this instance, yes it would be draconian regulation, because we are talking about a species that lives under that ground, which it is already speculated that the tilling of the ground is one of the major causes of the loss of this species, in other words, direct harming of this species.

    I can sure see Ralph is out of town, because the personal comments are becoming more abundant.

    I am sorry that my biology degree causes me to look at all sides of an issue and not only weigh the benefit as well as the negative to another one of the species that inhabit the earth.

  11. avatar Save bears says:

    as far as a lost species, that is part of the process, even Barb, who I disagree with on my issues, said virtually the same thing I did!

  12. avatar Tilly says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be hurtful, it just seemed ironic that Save Bears was saying that polar bears should not be listed.

    My biology degree taught me to save as much nature as we can and let politicians- not scientists or conservationists- cut the deals.

    I doubt tilling would be considered taking- and therefore regulated at all- because it seems people agree that the worm only hangs out in the rare, untilled areas. It sounds like tilled areas are unsuitable habitat.

  13. avatar Save bears says:

    Tilly

    99% of the land that has been stated that the worm lived under is currently farm land, that means it has been tilled time and time again over the last 100 years, which is speculated as why this species is rare, if not gone. In reality, we are not talking “take” we are talking “destruction” of resources which only 1% currently exists

    My comment about polar bears was not because I don’t think they should be preserved, it is because they are not currently endangered, and I think there is a misuse of the ESA in certain instances, we can’t say with 100% certainty what is going to happen in the future..do I want bears gone? HELL NO, do I think we need to look at all aspects HELL YES! I am 100% behind species preservation, but I am 100% against speculation.

    And I agree, this issue often times involves far more politics and emotion than it does science, wildlife should be under science and not emotion and politics..

  14. avatar Save bears says:

    I guess that I am one of the rare biologists that actually understand, we are going to loose some and that some are going to go extinct.

    I think it is wrong to call for the hunting of wolves before we have facts as I do listing a worm before we have more facts..

    If we continue to do what we have been doing, how in the world can we expect a different outcome?

  15. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Kind of like “Let Buffalo Roam” I say we set up a worm preserve where the Giant Palouse earthworm may squirm free again!

    “Let the worm squirm!”

    SB says:
    “we are not going to save them all, and really I don’t know if we should, once again, man is interfering in what might be part of the whole process of nature…”

    I’m with Tilly on this and I certainly don’t take the stance that SB does. Yes, we may loose some species but I don’t think it should be for lack of trying to save them. Of course “man is interfering in what might be part of the whole process of nature”. That’s why the ESA was written in the first place.

    I don’t think it is an extreme stance to say that we humans should intervene in the extinction process. I think it is an extreme stance to say that we should just write off the inconvenient ones. I don’t see the mass extinction event we are currently experiencing as just a mere problem, I see it as an emergency that needs to be confronted head on.

    In all seriousness, I think that an ESA listing is probably in order but I can understand that listing something that is so difficult to monitor, let alone find, would be unlikely. Does anyone know if it still exists? If it does, where? I’m sure the FWS will argue again that it is extinct so that they won’t have to list it. Frankly, it might be a moot point.

    Is there some other way to protect it in such a way that individuals can’t be taken? Is there a rule in place already? It would seem prudent to make some kind of interim rule which would prevent any intentional takings of the species until it is decided whether or not any exist. I presume some still do.

  16. avatar Save bears says:

    Ken,

    I am not surprise at all that you disagree with me.

    LOL

  17. avatar Save bears says:

    And I will add, how can we list a species, that we really don’t even know if it exists anylonger?

    If we do, I find that to be an abuse of the ESA, and I am all for preservation, but if we don’t know, how can we justify?

  18. avatar Carl says:

    One problem that I see with listing this species before it is even proven to still exist is that it will take funds and biologists time away from endangered species that do exist and need the funds and support. When the Ivory-billed woodpecker was rediscovered a few years back people were excited. Federal funds were moved from other programs to look for the bird, private funds have been used to help with surveys and to purchase land in Arkansas for the IBW. Unfortunately they have not been able to prove the bird still exists. The land protected in Arkansas along the Cache river will benefit many species but I wonder if it could have served a better purposes being spent on other endangered species.

  19. avatar kt says:

    Hmmm … once again, Save Bears does seem like a name being used to legitimize the opposite of “save” – for just about everything. I wonder what Save bears does consider worth saving?

  20. avatar paulWTAMU says:

    Animals that we’re sure are still there, and still at the point of being able to recover, and that are threatened maybe? Do you really want to start a huge fight and political mess, taking away resources (both political and economic) from other endangered species that we KNOW are there? Money and public goodwill are finite resources. If it gets to the point where we start shoving people around based on what might possibly live on their land, how cooperative are they going to be? And how hard is it to handle conservation issues (protecting species, land, whatever) with a populace that distrust you?
    Effective conservation cannot happen in a void divorced from the people it affects. Look at Africa and Asia. Conservation efforts that don’t work with local residents, and take their needs and desires into account face a much harder time, simply because locals with be at best unhelpful and at worst actively sabotaging your efforts (not reporting animals, killing/disposing of endangered species to protect their land, etc.).

  21. avatar Save bears says:

    Once again, kt is using emotion over science to promote her radical agenda.

    Kt,

    I am sure you said, you were going to ignore and not pay attention to what I said any longer?

    As far as the name I use, that can be changed, but I guarantee you my position on the issues won’t change..

  22. avatar Save bears says:

    We need to really devote some time and effort to access if this is an actual species that can still be saved, before we uproot and put lives into uproar, if there is a possibility to save this species based on scientific evidence, then yes, it needs to be done, unfortunately at this time, I find the evidence lacking!

  23. avatar Save bears says:

    kt,

    I have fought against the wanton killing of wolves, I have fought against the situation that has faced bison, I have condemned poaching at all levels, I have stated I am 100% against public lands ranching, but still I am suspect, talk about reading what you want to in a statement. You and people like you are one of the reasons we have so much difficulty moving forward on most of these issues.

  24. avatar Percy says:

    Using dogs to find them definitely sounds like the best bet. One was found in 2005–that suggests to me that they are not extinct. I truly doubt that listing them is going to draw significant funds away from other endangered species efforts; it is a rare worm hardly anyone has heard about, after all, not an ivory-billed woodpecker. It might need only a small area of endangered habitat that should be preserved anyway. Who should judge when it’s okay to let a species go extinct? I think we should protect biodiversity when we can. A giant worm living deep underground may turn out to be the genesis of new life on earth after a bolide strike or nuclear winter. you never know…

  25. avatar Tilly says:

    Congress has stated that all threatened/ endangered species must be protected under the ESA– unless a species is exempted by the “God Squad.” This committee when convened consists of the Secretary of Ag, the Secretary of the Army, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, the Administrator of EPA, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Administrator of NOAA. It has only convened a handful of times.

  26. avatar Save bears says:

    I have never said it shouldn’t be listed, I have said, it needs further investigation to confirm it still exists. I am all for biodiversity and saving species if they can be saved, but a key point is we should at least know they exist. Current evidence suggest it may already be extinct…which is why I continue to say, we need to investigate and determine its current status and I would say, we need to do it as soon as possible, there should be funds and biologists devoted to this one task.

  27. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    the threat of listing will prompt the energy & resource necessary to collect the information to determine whether & where the worm exists … that’s why it’s so important that the petition be put forward … without it, the worm would be forgotten …

    we push listing petitions with the goal-post being listing — which affords exquisite protections that advance the preservation and conservation of the wild via the administrative regulation of unfettered ~ destructive ~ commercial human behavior — but we push listings for the gears that start rolling even in the absence of actual listing ~ because the listing process short of the goal-post advances the conservation agenda in its own right.

    … much of the conservation benefit via the listing process takes place not as a direct result of the direct, successful application of its statutory mandate ~ it’s not the actual listing ~ but the reaction – the energy & resource the threat of listing spurs in attempts to prevent its successful listing …

    Save Bears’ minimization of the intrinsic value of the worm, in favor of side-stepping the regulation of a destructive human activity on its behalf, is itself an extension of attention that will benefit the worm. but the irony is that the threat of listing is necessary to ensure that his alternative to listing (i.e. collection of more data first) takes place at all.

    this may even be among the more important impacts of the Acts itself — it’s a big club/leverage hanging over decision-maker’s head that says, “Do something ~ or I will !” and in the scramble & attention to prevent the hammer from coming down ~ in all the whining & controversy about how ‘unjust’ it is to ask people to adjust their destructive behavior in reverence/humility to creation/biodiversity/life ~ species are given the attention, resource, and even alternative protections *even without actual listing* that they would never have enjoyed otherwise.

    list the worm –

  28. avatar mikepost says:

    Brian, I wish everyone pushing the listing agenda had your altruistic view. Unfortunately that is not the case. Many groups, CBD for one, use the listing process and associated legal and political turmoil as a tool to achieve other aims that have no direct linkage to the critter being discussed. That is how the whole ESA process got so discredited with many members of the public. Blindly pursueing listing in the absense of solid data that such effort is warranted further damages the public and political credability of the ESA and ultimately works to encourage and aid those who would propose the dismantaling of the ESA process. Where would we be then?

  29. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    mikepost,

    we often hear about the need to abstain from pushing listings lest we risk the loss of the ESA’s political vitality.

    it’s what some refer to as the “don’t use it to not lose it” approach to the ESA ~ any legislation really.

    the question becomes ~ of what use is a law unenforced ?

    if we don’t apply the pressure, flip the switch, to allow the process to decide the legitimacy of a listing petition and abstain from filing initially ourselves, then we have in effect done the heavy work of the de facto dismantling of the ESA ourselves ~ we’ve legitimized/empowered the anti-ESA players political capital before they even spittle a negative word ~ and worse yet, we’ve convinced ourselves and projected to the lay public a fundamental lack of integrity/political will/legitimacy etc that we as advocates have ourselves regarding the principles we are supposed to espouse. why would joe-blow, let alone a voting member of congress, be convinced, let alone compelled to go to bat for an environmental constituency ~ for the ESA ~ when it’s “advocates” are constantly back-peddling, equivocating, and otherwise too busy spending their time articulating/legitimizing their adversaries’ talking points as reasons abstain from using the already-existing hammer rather than advancing a positive articulation of the ESA’s principles in its proper enforcement such that the public and voting members of the congress can decide for themselves ?

    let the anti-ESA politicians have their foam-at-the-mouth fury ~ but let’s not do the lifting toward articulating their points to the public for them, let’s not dilute the principled enforcement of the Act for them, let alone allow the ESA to become so marginalized as to only apply to charismatic or politically expedient species. The ESA is about more than politically expedient wildlife/plants ~ it’s about all life ~ and life systems ~ and human humility ~ … those are pretty cool things – worth fighting for – worth articulating about – even if you gotta deal with a little spittle from the anti-life folk.

  30. avatar mikepost says:

    Well Brian, it will take me a bit to digest all this…I think all I said was that the fight should be a credible one and that we should divorce ourselves from those who seem to be our allies but who misuse the ESA for other agendas. I dont think that conflicts with the core of what you had to say. It just adds a bit of pragmatism and social responsibility.

  31. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    also mikepost,

    i take issue with your characterization that some groups use the ESA as a tool to create political instability, or species as surrogates to advance other ~ indirect political agendas.

    at least i take issue with your implicit suggestion that this is a bad thing.

    the ESA is a powerful tool that has the brawn to create political impact. sometimes, political impact ~ instability ~ disruption ~ etc. is entirely necessary to foment political change necessary to benefit species ~ and systems. in fact, it’s pretty much always necessary — people need to see and be aware of a “problem” before the political will can develop to compel passage of a solution to that problem.

    i don’t speak for CBD’s good or bad faith — but the way that you characterize some auxiliary agenda seems somewhat disingenuous. what is this agenda ? is it protection of wildlife, wild places ? that’s what CBD says ~ i take them at their word – i have no real reason to do otherwise. they’re doing an admirable job too.

    the political situation in this country is heavily skewed toward commercial/industrial/extractive/economic interests. left alone – undisturbed – the process is a negative one for wildlife and wild places. things are getting worse. the status quo with regard to management of particular species and entire systems needs to be pounded, reorganized, rearranged… there needs to be opportunity for reform ~ whether that reform be a function of new statute – new laws – or the better enforcement o existing laws – via administrative rule-making process.

    some environmental groups prefer to act to “find solutions” with an emphasis on policy-making/lobbying, etc. those solutions usually involved the necessity to lick the boots of the powers that be.

    others – perhaps like CBD, certainly like the one i work for ~ step in to agitate the status quo such that species are directly protected, already existing laws are properly enforced – and political situations are sufficiently disrupted such as to provide the potential opportunity for change. does that change always mean positive things ? no – it risks negative … take a look at Idaho’s recent bighorn legislation, some say prompted as a result of WWP litigation gearing up the tension on the issue. but then look at the federal land managers’ response to the state legislation, and a federal judge’s response … the industry continues to marginalize itself in its response.

    so there’s risk ~ but i’d say different groups’ use of the ESA as one tool in its arsenal to bring proper attention, resource, enforcement, and protection to individual species ~ or entire ecosystems/landscapes ~ or corrupt political arrangements — on behalf of wildlife and the wild isn’t inherently “negative” or “bad” …

    it’s a proper use of a mechanism put in place to prompt a change in the way we relate to the natural world. an introduction of codified human humility … a good thing

  32. avatar Save bears says:

    Brian,

    I am not saying I agree or disagree, but in this particular instance, we are not talking about wild places, we are talking about private lands that will be effected, I would like to make sure we have a case to disrupt these private land owners..

    Also, there seems to be some information coming out, that just does not add up as it did with the spotted owl situation, which I was involved with back in the day..

  33. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Save bears,

    the petition process is the process by which we determine whether there is a case to “disrupt” private land owners … that’s the point … you have to petition to get a 90-day finding, then status review, solicitation for public input/comment, etc …

    that process – the listing process – is the protocol for determining the imperiled status of a species …

    you have to push to list to get the information that you’re saying we should have before we push to list …

    as far as “wild” lands versus private lands …

    i think it’s an interesting question – and personally, i believe that when the habitat of a species in threat of extinction is impaired by human activities ~ even human activities which would assign a “private” land ownership designation ~ that there ought to be a process by which we can evaluate how to ensure protections for public values. we’ve passed laws which allow for condemnation of private property … we’ve passed laws which allow for the government to confiscate private property in the instance that it is used to manufacture drugs or illicit products … these represent laws ~ expressions of social will ~ that trump the almighty “private property” right ~ and they do so with good reasons … does the degradation of an imperiled species that’s on the brink of extinction critical habitat constitute a social value on par with those existing standards we use to impugn “private property” rights re: drugs or condemnation laws ? i’d argue yes …

    we all lose when a species goes extinct … there is a social value associated with the preservation of biodiversity and habitat — some of those values the ESA recognizes might not even be realized yet … it will be future generations that come to better understand the natural world … they can’t understand or benefit via value given that new understanding from what we let perish for all time …

    there are mechanisms by which we compensate those who are “put out” by the preservation of our shared value as represented by the ESA. But we shouldn’t use the fact that a few people are put out as an excuse not to act to preserve a species and protect a social value.

  34. avatar Save bears says:

    Brian,

    As I have said before, I am sure our goals are the same, just our perception of the process is different

  35. avatar mikepost says:

    Brian, do you mean to infer that ethics have no place in the application of ESA? That the mere identification of a potential listing species means that all those who would be negatively impacted should bear the cost of that until such time as they can prove the identification was wrong?
    If the ends justify the means then you are thinking no different and hold no higher moral ground than do the despoilers you seek to constrain.

  36. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    mikepost,

    i made no such suggestion.

    i merely explained that the process of pursuing a listing petition involves status review and the kind of comprehensive data-collection and resource acquisition necessary to establish whether or not a particular species is legally deserving of ESA protections. Pursuing a listing is itself the best way to ensure that the data-collection you and Save Bears think necessary actually takes place.

    Additionally, explain what “cost” or impact people incur on private property ?

    as far as “ethics” and the application of law ~ I guess I might suggest that you and I have a different standard upon which to evaluate a particular action as “ethical” or “unethical”. i would suggest that the Precautionary Principle ought be applied and extended a priori to all life-forms, and it ought weigh in favor of preservation when considered in light of the potential extinction of a life-form ~ that Precautionary Principle ought trump a hyper-sensitive consideration for impact to human activity, especially when the loss of such activity is more easily remedied via reasonable measures of mitigation than is the loss (forever) of a species.

  37. avatar JB says:

    Frankly, I’ve grown tired of the pissing and moaning we here from private landowners regarding endangered species protections. I own property in a medium-sized city and I can tell you there are a hell of a lot of restrictions on what I can do with that property. Are they annoying? Sometimes. But do they further the “greater good”? Yes; I believe that most of the time they do.

    Why should rural landowners receive special protections on their property “rights” that urban people do not receive?

    – – – –

    P.S. Can anyone point to the place in the Constitution where private property rights are guaranteed? Because outside of the “takings clause”, I’m not aware of any such “rights”.

  38. avatar Elk275 says:

    For all

    Private ownership of real property is guaranteed by the US Constitution but is subject to certain restrictions, known as the “four power of government”

    1. Taxation

    2.Eminent domain

    3. Police Power

    4. Escheat

    I guess the above 4 powers are open to interpretation the same as religion, each has their following. The Tea Party members will have a different interpretation than deep ecologists; it is the one with the most money and votes that will win the elections and pass the laws.

  39. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    If we have no right to it, then why should people pay for the property they live and work on?

    The “greater good” is a very open ideal, that means quite a few different things to different people

    If we look back through history, quite a lot of people have died to push through the ideal of property possession…

    But again, if we have no right to own it, I am sure there are many who would say, we have no obligation to pay for it..

  40. avatar JB says:

    Elk:

    I just searched the United States Constitution (including its amendments) for the word “property”. Below are the paragraphs in which the word appears.

    From Section 3 (New States)
    “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States…”

    5th Amendment (Takings Clause)
    “….nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    14th Amendment
    “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

    That’s it. That’s what the Constitution guarantees. The rest of property law is an amalgam of common (case) law and state law.

    – – – – –

    SB:

    All law/policy is undertaken for the common good. Else why have laws? I don’t contest anyone’s right to OWN land; however, I do contest the alleged “right” that some people believe they have to do anything they wish with their land. It doesn’t exist, and they need to get over it.

  41. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    In the context of this thread, they are not doing “Anything” they wish, they are farming, which in many sectors is considered a beneficial use of land…

  42. avatar Elk275 says:

    Save Bears

    ++considered a beneficial use of land…++

    It is called the Highest and Best Use

    JB

    My above post is from “Appraisal of Real Estate” 12th Addition.

    I am a certified Real Estate Appraiser. This damn forum has cost me time since I found it in October, I should be writing a report now, but hey we all love wildlife and each one of us has a different outlook.

    About 6 months ago I first read about the great white worm. In Missoula they have “Moose Drool” beer and in the Palouse county they could brew a new light beer “The
    Great White Worm”

  43. avatar Save bears says:

    I would also say, that many of us that live rural in the west choose to because we are not quite as restrained as those who choose to live in an urban environment, the ideal of freedom takes on a different meaning when your surrounded by wide open space as opposed to having to close your curtains so the neighbor don’t see you on the pot! LOL

  44. avatar JB says:

    SB, Elk:

    Whether farming is a good use of land is up for debate. Here in Ohio, where we have some of the most fertile soils in the U.S., I would agree that farming can be the “best” use of the land. In the semi-arid West, however, I can think of better uses. 🙂

    In regards to alleged “property rights”, I am only pointing out that such rights are NOT guaranteed by the Constitution–at least, not in the sense that most people think. Bring this up to the right-leaning amongst you the next time you get into a conversation about those “flawless” founding fathers.

  45. avatar Save bears says:

    See that is the difference JB,

    You live in Ohio, we live in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming and have a completely different opinion of what is the greater good..

  46. avatar JB says:

    SB:

    Yes. That is always the difference when talking with people “from” the West. I can’t possibly understand because I live somewhere else. Nevermind that I’ve spent at least two years of my life in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Utah. Nevermind that I grew up hunting and fishing in rural Michigan, 15 miles from Manistee National Forest. My opinion can be readily dismissed because I’m not a local.

    Do you really believe that agriculture in Idaho is contributing to the “greater good” in our society?

  47. avatar Save bears says:

    JB,

    I have not dismissed your opinion one bit, I have simply stated that my opinion differs from yours..and believe me, California is not the west! I also feel that Utah is quite a bit different environment as well, as far as the other states, different opinions, different ideals.

    This has nothing to do with being “Local” and I would challenge you to post a reference where I have ever stated anything of that nature on this blog.

    Why is it, that people always take such offense when it is pointed out that different localities have different opinions and values?

    Not being familiar with this particular part of Idaho, I can’t say one way or another whether they are contributing the greater good or not, I have to do some more reasearch and I may do a field trip to the area in question to see what I can surmise for myself.

    Believe me JB, I was not putting your opinion down or dismissing it, if I was, I would just not answer you any longer..

  48. avatar Si'vet says:

    JB, I am very familiar with the agronomic’s of this part of Idaho, dry land wheat and barley do very well in this black and fertile soil. Dry land = good quality crops and yields, without sucking the rivers and ground water reservoirs dry.

  49. avatar JB says:

    SB:

    My apologies if I read too much into your previous post/ over-reacted. My time in Utah left me pretty jaded. Seems you are only allowed to have an opinion there if you can claim 3+ generations.

    I recognize that there are often differences between locals, new-comers, and out-of-staters. I simply don’t subscribe to the view that one group’s view should “trump” all others.

  50. avatar Save bears says:

    As I said, if I felt that way, I would not converse with you..

    I disagree with quite a few people, but rarely will I refuse to engage in conversation..

    Remember JB, I am a biologist first and a person second, I look at the science in these various issues and offer my opinion based on that information.

  51. avatar mikepost says:

    Personally, I think all worthwhile worms belong in tequila…which I will have to imbibe after all this…good stuff though (the conversation)…

  52. avatar Cobra says:

    It would take a pretty big bottle of tequila for a worm that size. Probably take at least a week in Mexico just to drink it all, and not to mention maybe a couple days to finish off the worm. I could probably struggle through a few days in Mazatlan this time of year, hard as it might be. I guess I’d be willing to take one for the team and give it a try anyway.

  53. avatar Ken Cole says:

    The Palouse is not only known for it winter wheat farming but also for its resulting soil erosion. I don’t remember what the figure was but I was astounded when I heard how much soil is lost each year there to wind and water.

    Oh and don’t forget the Palouse’s favorite son, Josh Ritter
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncRIMBwo_0]

  54. avatar David says:

    “We need to really devote some time and effort to access if this is an actual species that can still be saved, before we uproot and put lives into uproar, if there is a possibility to save this species based on scientific evidence, then yes, it needs to be done, unfortunately at this time, I find the evidence lacking!” — Save bears

    As I understand it, that is exactly the next step in the process. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would develop a study plan to determine whether the species can be saved. No uprooting, no putting lives in an uproar.

  55. Thanks David,

    I second that.

    It might true that saving this big worm is impossible or too expensive, but who knows?

    Maybe it is naturally rare and as abundant as ever. Maybe it has become rare, but is easy to propogate. Maybe it has become rare, but just a few changes could save it.

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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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