- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
WildEarth Guardians received a $25,000 grant from the Alex C. Walker Foundation in support of a campaign to protect the threatened wildlands and endangered wildlife of the Greater Gila Ecosystem through a market-based approach that will retire high conflict cattle grazing allotments on national forest lands. In late 2011 we expanded our focus from the Gila to the Apache National Forest of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area where opportunities to retire two allotments (17,000 and 46,525 acres respectively) seem to have matured. At this point we have given up on the Forest Service and are focusing exclusively on Congressional permit retirement for the rest of 2012 and into 2013. This pilot project will demonstrate the feasibility of this market-based approach, so this innovative approach to solving cattle grazing conflicts, and furthering Mexican gray wolf conservation, can be implemented on other priority public lands and grazing allotments in the Greater Gila Ecosystem.
WildEarth Guardians Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery & Grazing Permit Retirement strategy will not only maximize Mexican gray wolf recovery but leverage eventual congressional designation of over two million acres of national forest wilderness. WildEarth Guardians remains optimistic about this pilot project campaign for multiple key social, political, ecological and economic reasons, including: 1) we have numerous highly motivated ranchers that support and are willing to advocate for grazing retirement, if quietly; 2) we have secured $125,0000 in commitments from private individuals, and have a $50,000 pledge from an anonymous foundation, to provide the initial financing for permit retirements and have opened two escrow accounts for donations restricted to compensating ranchers and; 3) the current failing wolf recovery program and growing threats to endangered species demands a new set of viable solutions; 4) the USFWS has a September 2012 deadline for determining if it will uplist the Mexican wolf and thus give it full Endangered Species Act protections, which would change the politics of the issue.
This project meets the Alex C. Walker Foundation’s purpose of exploring and developing market-based solutions. WildEarth Guardians has invested significant financial and intellectual resources over the past several years to promote a market-based solution to protect our environment by implementing a voluntary grazing permit retirement pilot project in a key wildlife/livestock conflict area in the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which we hope will spur additional retirements. This strategy has been used successfully in the Greater Yellowstone area and Oregon and we wish to demonstrate this approach can be used in the Greater Gila area, to the benefit of everyone involved. In the coming six months we believe we will successfully complete our pilot grazing permit retirement project, which will then be slightly modified and replicated across the Greater Gila.
Conflicts between ranchers and conservationists occur on public lands across the west, with increasing frequency. We will demonstrate the utility of a market-based solution to these conflicts, which we will then replicate across the Greater Gila Bioregion to facilitate Mexican gray wolf conservation and leverage wilderness designation. Over the long term, this same strategy/tool can potentially be replicated across the American West where ranchers and conservationists have conflicts on public lands.
Dissemination of results and progress thus far has focused on outreach to area ranchers through both word of mouth and face-to-face meetings; in early 2012 we even did a mailing to all permitees on both the Gila and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests that has led to numerous additional interested parties. We are already reaching out to relevant NGO’s that work in the Greater Gila in order to gain their support for our strategy and engaging elected officials and agency personnel who either help represent or make land use decisions that could impact this work; this outreach is happening primarily through letters and face-to-face meetings. We will inform WildEarth Guardians members and the general public through regular WildEarth Guardians publications and social and traditional media. All of this outreach and dissemination aims to build support for our strategy so that we, and others, can replicate this market based-solution across both the Greater Gila and the wider American west where rancher/conservationist conflicts occur on public lands.
(Check sent: 7/5/2011)