Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Blowing Up the Environment to Save It

I've recently had the opportunity to spend a good deal of time working with the Indiana state offices of The Nature Conservancy, which means that I've had the good fortune to learn more and more about the many ways in which their organization is truly saving the world. Their vast efforts to develop sustainable practices and a conservation ethic are changing mindsets while preserving millions of acres across the nation.

During a recent visit to their offices, I was looking at the many photos on the walls while waiting for a meeting to start. I was studying one particularly ominous-looking one of what appeared to be the aftermath of a forest fire. Trees were charred and felled, and aside from a few young, bright green leaves, it was a pretty bleak scene.

With all of their efforts aimed towards the support of protecting nature, it caught me a bit off guard when one of the state officers walked in, smiled, saying, "Yeah, we really like to burn things around here."

It wasn't a forest fire, but rather, a controlled burn. Among other things, these highly-targeted events help to restrict the growth of invasive species of plants that were crowding out and threatening the native species of the area and encourage the best (and most natural) balance.

When your focus is on developing the best long-term strategic outcome, sometimes short-term sacrifice becomes a necessity.

Check out this video from a Nature Conservancy effort to restore the wetlands in southern Oregon's Williamston River Delta Preserve through the use of more than 100 tons of explosives. Within one hour, more than 2,500 acres were flooded.

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