Science and wonder at the Bridgewater Hollow BioBlitz

…People need wild places. Whether or not we think we do, we do. We need to be able to taste grace and know once again that we desire it. We need to experience a landscape that is timeless, whose agenda moves at the pace of speciation and glaciers. To be surrounded by a singing, mating, howling commotion of other species, all of which love their lives as much as we do ours, and none of which could possibly care less about our economic status or our running day calendar. Wilderness puts us in our place. It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd. It reminds us why, in those cases in which our plans might influence many future generations, we ought to choose carefully. Looking out on a clean plank of planet earth, we can get shaken right down to the bone by the bronze-eyed possibility of lives that are not our own.

— Barbara Kingsolver, in “Small Wonder”

After 50 miles and two days of walking, Shelby Perry hung a left off of the Appalachian Trail and dropped into a quintessential New England landscape where time seems to stand still. Following the twists and turns of gin-clear Bridgewater Hollow Brook, hardwoods and hemlocks towering overhead, birdsong echoing down from the canopy, it was a peaceful conclusion to a one-woman protest march – a long-distance awareness-building and fundraising effort to shine a spotlight on the power of wilderness to address two of the greatest crises of our time: climate change and the planet’s sixth major extinction episode.

It was also the kickoff to a weekend of science and wonder at the Bridgewater Hollow BioBlitz, an effort to protect a mature, wild forest along the North Branch of the Ottauquechee River in Central Vermont.

On Sunday, June 23rd, Shelby and a half-dozen expert naturalists and landscape historians descended on the proposed Bridgewater Hollow Bramhall Wilderness Preserve to help identify the biodiversity harbored on the 360-acre property. Joining Shelby (NWT’s Stewardship Director) were Spencer Hardy and Nathan Sharp of Vermont Center for Ecostudies, ecologist Brett Engstrom, and Middlebury College landscape historian, Chris Fastie. So far, these pros – along with help from 15 participants who joined them for a variety of outings throughout the day – have identified nearly 200 different species from their field observations, and the list continues to grow.

While cataloging the plants and animals of this site increases our scientific understanding and improves the rational case for wilderness, it also fosters our wonder at the beauty and resilience of wild nature, and the sheer diversity of species with whom we share this planet.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the BioBlitz and who donated in support of Shelby’s Walk for Wilderness, which raised over $6,000 to safeguard the Bridgewater Hollow Preserve.

There are still significant funds to raise to complete the purchase of this wild landscape at the heart of the Green Mountains.

You can join the Northeast’s community of wilderness supporters by donating to protect Bridgewater Hollow, today.

 

Hatching two birds from one egg

How wilderness can save us from climate and extinction catastrophe

Wilderness is back in the headlines with an op-ed by Northeast Wilderness Trust in the Portland Press Herald.

Preserved by Northeast Wilderness Trust in 2007, the old-growth ecosystem of Maine’s Howland Forest is teaching scientists around the globe about the exceptional climate stabilizing impacts of Wild Nature.

By now you’ve probably heard the term, “Natural Climate Solutions,” a phrase that has been championed by Greta Thunberg, Bill McKibben, and other celebrities of the climate movement. The term has been applied to the variety of ways that Mother Nature can lead us to a cleaner, greener future if we just let it do what it does best: sequester carbon from the atmosphere, purify water and air, and provide refuge for the species with whom we share Planet Earth.

The reality, as Northeast Wilderness Trust Executive Director Jon Leibowitz explains in an op-ed in Friday’s Portland Press Herald, is that Natural Climate Solutions is simply a new name for a very old concept: allow Wild Nature to thrive and the benefits are many fold. We call it wilderness.

Simply put, there is no more effective, affordable, rapidly scalable, and low-tech solution to address the climate and extinction crises than to expand forever-wild preservation across the globe, starting right here in the Northeast.

Northeastern wildlands can be the lungs of a healthier planet and bastions of biodiversity if we choose to protect them today, but there must be renewed public enthusiasm and commensurate philanthropic support. The intentional act of setting aside such places is one of humility and acceptance that we cannot and should not control everything, everywhere. In return, we will be rewarded with the natural climate solutions that wilderness offers.

 

Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of Northeast Wilderness Trust in an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald.

Click here to continue reading the op-ed. And thanks for #KeepingItWild.