A Simple Email Can Help Save the 27 National Monument Areas on Trump’s List

By Michael Dax and Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz, originally published in Yes! Magazine


Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have made “monuments” out of hundreds of millions of acres of public lands to protect them from development, and no president has ever “unprotected” them. The Trump administration has now singled out 27 national monument areas to do just that.

But first, the Department of the Interior says it wants to hear from the public. On May 12, it will begin an official public comment period on the specific areas under review. Continue reading

Lending a Hand for Wolves

By the time we reached the one-acre pen holding the family of Mexican gray wolves on Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch in New Mexico, the morning sun had crested the San Andreas Mountains to the east, illuminating the cottonwoods and sycamores in the valley below.

We parked the trucks a few hundred yards away and walked the temporary holding crates to the enclosure, but the wolves were already well aware of our presence. As we entered, they nervously circled the pen’s rocky terrain, skittishly stealing glances while keeping a comfortable distance. The excitement among our group of twenty (which included U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff, biologists from the Ladder Ranch, students from New Mexico State University, high school students and members of the local community) was palpable. Continue reading

Why We Protected Grizzly Bears and Should Continue to Do So

I read with great disappointment a New York Times op-ed (Rinella: The Problem with Protecting Grizzly Bears), which presented a cherry-picked account for why Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections should be removed for Yellowstone’s grizzly bears.

Mr. Rinella offered some facts while ignoring many others, all the while floating the long-held, yet antiquated notion that hunters make the best conservationists. This outdated mode of thinking implies that it wouldn’t be feasible or even conceivable to manage a species for the sake of its own population and without the long-term goal of hunting it. Continue reading

From the desk of Michael J. Dax #FindYourPark

UNP blog

This year the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary and as the National Park Foundation said, “the Centennial is more than a birthday. We want people everywhere to embrace the opportunities to explore, learn, be inspired or simply have fun in their 407 national parks….” UNP asked its authors to write about their favorite National Park to contribute to the #FindYourPark campaign on social media. 

DaxThe following contribution is from Michael J. Dax, author ofGrizzly West: A Failed Attempt to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears in the Mountain West(August, 2015).

My father was seventeen the first time he stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and stared into the seemingly endless expanse. It was spring break 1971, and he and a friend had driven west from Ohio. When they reached the Canyon and laid eyes on its vastness for the first time, they felt an unshakable need to leave the rim…

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Embrace the Wildness of Hiking with Grizzlies

The night before a long hike that would take me around the north side of Shoshone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, I had a short phone conversation with my girlfriend. “Be careful,” she said, referring to the potential for running into a grizzly bear. “Don’t worry,” I assured her. “This isn’t a big grizzly area.” The next day, after hiking roughly five miles along DeLacy Creek and wrapping along the north side of the lake, I fell into a groove.

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Ten Miles from Montana

I had almost reached Montana when a haunting green glow illuminating the western North Dakota night demanded my attention and pulled my eyes away from the road. With the weight of a twelve by six-foot trailer, filled with everything I owned towed behind it, my poor Subaru Outback whined for a break each time it met even the slightest hill. But I was eager to reach the border and didn’t want to give-in. Trying to ignore the trick my tired eyes seemed to be playing, I kept driving.

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What’s in a name?

Imagine, you live in Boston, but you are a die-hard Yankees fan. You simply hate the Red Sox, and so you have no choice but to go to the other side.  Thirty years later, however, the Yankees have hit a slump, so just to make things easier for you and everyone else, you start calling yourself a Red Sox fan.  You are still a Yankees fan at heart, but being a Red Sox fan just sounds better and is easier for you and everyone else to stomach.  It sounds absurd, right?  But raise the stakes a little bit, and that is where the environmental movement finds itself today.

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Dam Bear Grass

I am not a scientist by any means, and any time someone starts referring to the Latin name of a plant or animal, my eyes glaze over.  But a few weeks ago, I was invited by the Montana Wilderness Association to help plant bear grass at Mill Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Five years ago, some major construction on the dam left much of the area around it disturbed and in need of restoration. I had never done a trip like this, but the idea of hanging out high in the Bitterroots is always an enticing proposition, and I quickly agreed. Continue reading