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IslandWire: September 17, 2020

a photo collage of young people

Earth Island Institute Announces Brower Youth Award Winners

The New Leaders Initiative of Earth Island Institute recently announced the recipients of this year’s Brower Youth Awards: Danielle Boyer, 19, from Troy, Michigan; Alexandra Collins, 16, from Hinsdale, Illinois; Haana Edenshaw 16, from Haida Gwaii; Diego Arreola Fernández, 18, from Mexico City; Chander Payne, 18, from Bethesda, Maryland; and Isabella Wallmow, 20, from Andover, Minnesota. Learn more about the winners here and celebrate these extraordinary environmental youth activists by registering here for the free two-part virtual awards ceremony on October 15 and 20.

photo of a wildfire aftermath

Wildfires and Climate Change

Wildfires are bringing the issue of climate change to the forefront of the American consciousness. Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at Earth Island's Wild Heritage, has not only been predicting that these extreme wildfire events would happen, he's also been alerting the public and elected leaders to our lack of preparedness. Dominick, who is currently a wildfire evacuee in his home state of Oregon, is often consulted for his expertise on the topics of wildfire ecology, creating defensible space, safety plans, climate-safe forest management, and learning to live with wildfire in the face of climate chaos. More information here, here, and here.

photo of an elk, barbed wire tangled in in its antlers

Point Reyes National Seashore at a Critical Juncture

Point Reyes National Seashore celebrated its 58th anniversary on September 13. David Brower, Earth Island's founder, was a leader in the campaign to create this park — the first and still the only national seashore on the West Coast. Point Reyes is also the only national park with large-scale commercial ranching. This anomaly was a stopgap measure, intended to last a generation; that the ranchers would become a political force was unforeseen. The National Park Service is currently deciding among several possible future management plans for the park. Unfortunately, the agency's preferred alternative calls for an expansion of ranching in the park: goats, sheep, chickens, meatpacking plants, creameries, row crops, and retail outlets. The plan also calls for the killing of native elk in favor of cows. David Brower is rolling in his grave. More information here.

photo of an elk, barbed wire tangled in in its antlers

Beluga Whales Saved from Captive Breeding Program

Earth Island's International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) has achieved an important victory for captive beluga whales. The Mystic Aquarium of Connecticut was on track to import five beluga whales from Canada to breed them and consign more belugas to a life in captivity in small concrete pools. But in a decision that sided with IMMP and its coalition, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) allowed for the whales' importation while banning the breeding. The permit also precludes Mystic Aquarium from training or using the whales for circus-like performances. This is the first permit ever issued for captivity that has been restricted by NMFS. IMMP hopes this will set a precedent for future captive cetaceans. More information here.

photo of a hawk carrying a gopher

Wildlife Protection Bill Passes California State Legislature

After a yearslong campaign by Earth Island's Raptors Are the Solution (RATS), the California state legislature passed Assembly Bill 1788, a bill RATS cosponsored, which aims to place a moratorium on toxic rodenticides until state agencies can develop better safeguards to protect wildlife. The bill is on Governor Gavin Newsom's desk, and RATS is encouraging Californians to urge the governor to sign it. The campaign for this bill has also been supported by Earth Island's Project Coyote. More information here. (Photo of red-tailed hawk with gopher taken by Pamela Rose Hawken.)

poster of a fox, a lynx, and a coyote

Washington Becomes Seventh State to Ban Wildlife Killing Contests

Washington has become the seventh state to ban cruel wildlife killing contests, joining six other states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Vermont) that have abolished or restricted these barbaric events. “Wildlife killing contests are a blood sport, just like dogfighting and cockfighting, which have been outlawed nationwide,” said Camilla Fox of Earth Island's Project Coyote. “We commend Commissioner Barbara Baker and the entire Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for relegating these ecologically and ethically indefensible events to the history books.” In 2014, Project Coyote's science advisory board and a coalition of scientists issued a statement about the impact of wildlife killing contests on wildlife populations and natural ecosystems. The statement has played a key role in convincing decision makers to ban the practice. More information here.

photo of a group of people outdoors

Innovative Projects Help Protect Zimbabwe Communities

Earth Island's Friends of Muonde is happy to report that despite dire conditions in Zimbabwe during the Covid-19 pandemic, the organization and its partners are working to teach community members how to keep each other safe and healthy, which can be seen in the video here, and to raise awareness of both community innovations and challenges, which can be seen in the video here. These public health improvement projects complement a broad portfolio of agricultural and environmental innovations by Friends of Muonde's partner, The Muonde Trust. For more information about current and past projects, Friends of Muonde will be holding a virtual meeting on October 2, 5:30–7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Contact Ken Wilson for details. (Photo of The Muonde Trust team taken in 2013.)

New Shark Book for Kids

book cover thumbnail

David McGuire, executive director of Earth Island's Shark Stewards, has written a book about sharks for kids ages six to nine. In addition to introducing readers to some of the biggest, smallest, and strangest sharks, the illustrated book also talks about shark conservation efforts and the importance of protecting these apex predators. Sharks for Kids: A Junior Scientist's Guide to Great Whites, Hammerheads, and Other Sharks in the Sea will be launched online September 26, timed to coincide with Shark Stewards' 11th annual Sharktoberfest celebration with California's Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Stay tuned for more information about the online event here and preorder the book here.

Environmental Education in Any Watershed

Earth Island's KIDS for the BAY is now offering four new virtual programs designed for children to connect with nature, engage in hands-on science activities, and take action for the environment throughout the school year. We all live in watershed ecosystems, and teachers and students in any watershed can benefit from these programs. While some activities will be taught online by KIDS for the Bay instructors, lessons also aim to take students away from screens and into their backyards and neighborhoods, where they can engage with their unique environments. Register and learn more here.

photo of a child outdoors with a clipboard

photo of a woman paddling a watercraft woven of reeds

Survey Aims to Protect California Indian Archive

Seeking to support the protection of and access to California Indian archival materials in culturally appropriate ways, Earth Island's California Institute for Community, Art & Nature is conducting a survey that will help identify priorities, share best practices, and develop resources to assist individuals, communities, tribes, and organizations in archiving this cultural legacy. Responses to the survey will be accepted through October 7. More information here. (Photo of Ohlone basketweaver Linda Yamane by Tim Thomas.)

UPDATE: IslandWire reported last month on the Covid-19 crisis affecting San Quentin State Prison in California. Read an update in Earth Island Journal here.

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