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in northern California's Klamath

long marginalized at the fringe of the "reasonable" economic activity and National Forest. Nathaniel Lawrence, a environmental movement, has recently development on affected land, much of lawyer for the Natural Resources moved to the very center of the

which is privately owned. The first Defense Council, emphasizes that he biodiversity debate. A California NCCP pilot program targets the Coastal argued the case “strictly on the grounds program called Natural Communities Sage Scrub ecosystem, which extends of using corridors to maintain

Conservation Planning (NCCP) aims to from the Mexican border the Pacific biological diversity and intentionally protect critical habitat "before it

Coast to Ventura County. Harboring the ignored the menace to threatened and becomes so fragmented or degraded by California gnatcatcher and some 50 endangered species." This case, in development and other use" that its other threatened species, this ecosystem short, transports biodiversity beyond species require listing under an

demonstrates the advantages of multithe policy gridlocks forming around the endangered species program. The species protection. NCCP's innovations Endangered Species Act.

program is designed to save critical lie in the program's holistic approach to Meanwhile, bioregionalism, a concept habitat and, at the same time, allow biodiversity and its anticipatory

bias—that is, its attempt to stop incipient problems before they become acute and require institutionalized responses.

Experiments in protecting biodiversity find sturdy underpinnings in a growing library of scholarship on the subject and in an expanding number of students learning the principles of conservation biology and landscape ecology. In addition to E.O. Wilson's volumes, the library now includes significant contributions from a wide range of experts, many of whom can be sampled in Landscape Linkages and Biodiversity, published in 1991 by Defenders of Wildlife. A comprehensive textbook, Landscape Ecology by Richard T.T. Forman and Michel Godron, has been available since 1986. Biodiversity experts have also formed the International Association for Landscape Ecology. Followers of this discipline perform "gap analyses” to generate digital maps that identify both species-rich areas and other ecosystems inadequately protected by existing reserves.

As the frog massacre on the British motorway demonstrates, many species—not just those officially inscribed as endangered species—are now extremely vulnerable. They are at risk from depletion of stratospheric ozone, enormous growth in human populations and economic activity, global warming, droughts, fires, pollution, disease, and other environmental shocks. British authorities, realizing that biological systems require margins of safety, finally tunneled under the motorway to reconstitute the ancient "frogway."

Thanks to enlightened management, Wildlife can migrate freely through the Pinhook Swamp natural corridor,

Jimmy Walker photo the frogs are safe again, and their which runs between Osceola National Forest in Florida and

critical role in the maintenance of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia.

biological diversity continues. O



Great Water Bodies at a Watershed

Pollution prevention and
a regional approach are needed

by Wesley Marx


deteriorate without controls on nonpoint sources of pollution in the watershed.

Today, the Chesapeake Bay region is undertaking the critical transition from "end of the pipe" controls to a watershed approach that embraces all the impacts that converge on a water body. Prompted by pressure from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other citizen groups, the governments of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and

Chesapeake Bay Drainage Area

ou might not think that two Pennsylvania farmers could help

watermen in the Chesapeake Bay harvest more shellfish. But Joe and David Garber, by carefully applying fertilizer to their Spring Lawn Farm, are helping to demonstrate how we can achieve sustainable use of our great water bodies.

The goal of sustainable use is critical. From generation to generation, our bays and coastal waters have provided an economy and a way of life for millions of people. They have helped to enrich our lives and to define the communities in which we live. Who can imagine a Baltimore without Chesapeake Bay, a Seattle without Puget Sound, a Chicago without Lake Michigan?

However, when we use our great water bodies as cheap all-purpose dumps, we can wind up with shellfish quarantines, seafood health advisories, and closed summer beaches. Nationwide, there are 2,100 health advisories for fish contaminated by toxic chemicals, according to a 1991 National Academy of Sciences report, Seafood Safety. Overfishing,

development, and pollution threaten "to destroy the harvest of wild shellfish ... throughout the nation's coastal areas," according to a 1990 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Salmon runs in California and the Pacific Northwest are in serious decline as upstream dams and canals divert river flows. Our great water bodies can become, in the words of the accountants, “non-performing assets."

To keep our great water bodies fit to perform, we have invested funds in the last two decades to clean up discharges from our sewage treatment plants. However, as the Chesapeake Bay region has learned, controlling pollution at the "end of the pipe" is not enough to ensure the goal of sustainable use. Progress in cleaning up sewage discharges has been offset by the occurrence of slimy algal blooms in the bay. These dense, greenish blooms cut off light to critical seagrass beds or submerged aquatic vegetation. The blooms, as they decay, deplete lifegiving dissolved oxygen for finfish. Nutrient-rich loads of nitrogen and phosphorous feed these destructive blooms. Phosphate detergent bans and nutrient removal in sewage plants will not suffice to roll back these destructive blooms, which are nurtured by livestock wastes and farm fertilizers from the vast bay watershed. More than a decade ago, scientists warned that the bay would continue to

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(Marx is the author of The Frail Ocean: A Blueprint for Change in the 1990s and Beyond (The Globe Pequot Press, 1991). He served on National Research Council panels on marine monitoring and on coastal science and policy.)

Source: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

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the District of Columbia, in partnership with EPA, signed an agreement in 1987 to cut nutrient loads to the bay by 40 percent by the year 2000. Pennsylvania provides technical and financial aid to farmers like the Garbers who develop nutrient management plans to minimize runoff of manure and artificial fertilizers.

Maryland is working to enlist virtually every citizen in the bay cleanup. To help reduce soil erosion to the bay, thousands of Marylanders planted 1.4 million trees during Earth Month in 1991. To help companies reduce toxic discharges to the bay, the state sponsors special workshops on how to change to environmentally compatible manufacturing processes. To help fund such efforts, more than 300,000 citizens bought special “Treasure the Chesapeake” vehicle license plates.

Is the bay saved? Hardly. Its worldfamous oyster population is seriously depleted. Nitrogen levels remain too high. Phosphorous levels are dropping and some seagrass beds are recovering, but even this progress may be offset if another impact converging on our coastal regions is not controlled. The bay watershed population will grow 20 percent by 2020, and a recent report notes "unmanaged new growth has the potential to erase any progress made in bay improvements, overwhelming past

and current efforts." Environmental taller smokestacks. Pollution
groups are closely scrutinizing new prevention can make economic sense to
development proposals. Maryland and farmers and manufacturers as well. In
Virginia have both established

Wisconsin, Green Bay Packaging, Inc., commissions to recommend growth finds it is more cost effective to recycle management strategies. Clearly,

its wastewater than to meet achieving the goal of sustainable use for increasingly strict discharge standards the bay is not going to be an easy

to the Lower Fox River. In learning to victory. But by shifting to a watershed reduce fertilizer runoff, farmers in approach, the bay region has given Pennsylvania have discovered that they itself the opportunity to achieve this have been applying more fertilizer than goal.

their fields can absorb. "By applying To be effective, the watershed

less, the farmers can save both money approach also must take into account and our waterways," notes Victor Funk what is happening in the air above. Up of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Soil and to 30 percent of the nitrogen loads in Water Conservation. By shifting to the Chesapeake Bay is aerial fallout water conservation, drip irrigation, and from regional smokestack and auto wastewater recycling, cities and exhaust emissions. Nearly 90 percent farming communities in California can of the toxic PCBs that enter Lake

reduce the need to divert river flows Superior and make large lake trout

from salmon rivers. unsafe to eat comes from aerial fallout. A watershed approach must be able International agreements may be

to bridge traditional political needed to control this aerial assault. boundaries and foster interagency While DDT cannot be used in the

coordination. To do this, Congress United States, this persistent toxin

directed EPA to form the National continues to enter the Great Lakes

Estuary Program (NEP). An estuarine system because of airborne sources as region can use an NEP grant to fund a far away as Mexico.

broad-based management conference Coupling the watershed approach and develop a Comprehensive with the concept of pollution

Conservation and Management prevention can yield economic as well

Program (CCMP). So far, EPA has as environmental benefits. By shifting designated 18 estuaries for the NEP. In to reducing pollution at the front end, 1991, Puget Sound was the first region we can reduce the need to build bigger to have its CCMP approved by EPA. sewage plants, larger landfills, and

One priority goal: stepped up control

of nonpoint pollution sources

and habitat loss are now overtaking this Given the current budget crunch at responsible for closing some 40 percent magnificent water body. Nearly 60 all levels of government, there will be a of the sound's commercial shellfish percent of the shellfish beds are subject temptation to stint on protection of our beds. By treating storm runoff and to repeated health closures. Under the great water bodies. However, such expanding its chemical source control Gulf of Mexico Program, the five Gulf "savings" will be illusory. The marine program, one paper mill in Tacoma, of Mexico states are cooperating with fishing industries, both seafood and Washington, is eliminating more than EPA to develop regional action agendas recreation, contribute more than $24 one million pounds of potential

for nutrient loads, habitat loss, toxics, billion annually to the U.S. economy, chemical pollutants each year. marine debris, and public health

according to the National Marine The CCMP for the San Francisco Bay threats. The Soil Conservation Service Fisheries Service. The more fishing and Delta system envisions a major has established a plant center at Golden grounds we lose to pollution, habitat recovery of salmon runs and freshwater Meadows, Louisiana, to supply

loss, and uncontrolled growth, the wetlands—but only if standards are wetlands plants to community groups more jobs and businesses we adopted to ensure adequate freshwater working to restore coastal wetlands.

jeopardize. inflows to the estuary ecosystem. EPA Eventually, much of the continental By managing our water bodies for has stated its intent to set such

United States will have to cooperate if sustainable use, we can restore jobs and standards if California does not act by these initiatives are to succeed. The business opportunities while reducing 1993. In 1992, Congress passed a bill Mississippi River, which empties into the current need to import half of our supported by the Bay Institute and the gulf, drains two-thirds of the

seafood supply. Native Americans other environmental groups that

continental United States. Nutrients in learned how to use salmon and other requires the federal Bureau of

the massive river discharge trigger living marine resources without Reclamation to help restore salmon oxygen-depressing blooms in the gulf depriving their children of the same runs damaged by its dam projects in and contribute to a 3,000-square-mile opportunity. We must provide the California. “dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana

same opportunity to our children. Says Rimmed by wetlands, seagrass beds, and Texas. To help mobilize the broad Bill Frank, Jr., chairman of the and mangrove forests, the Gulf of

public support that will be needed to Northwest Indian Fisheries Mexico sustains 40 percent of the

protect the gulf from such piecemeal Commission in Washington: "Care for nation's commercial fish catch by destruction, Congress designated 1992 nature, for without her


children volume. However, severe pollution as the “Year of the Gulf of Mexico."

will not survive." 0

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Copyright, Mike Brisson photo.

A birdwatcher looks out over Tennison Bay at Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Our major water bodies enrich the lives of millions.


An Urgent Agenda

Nongovernmental organizations must reexamine programs and priorities

by John Adams


he United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in

Rio last June changed history. For those of us in public interest groups who work for environmental protection in the United States, it changed the entire context of our work and it changed fundamental ground rules.

Sustainable development is an ideal that many of us have cherished for very long time. Now that the largest gathering of heads of state in history has confirmed a need that we saw all along, it would be easy for us simply to congratulate ourselves. But Rio is far from being merely a cause for celebration. It also conferred responsibility-the responsibility to live up to ideals that we ourselves promoted, and the responsibility to make sure this new international agreement becomes a real commitment instead of only words on paper.

Rio set a new standard by which the work of U.S. environmental organizations should be measured. We must all reexamine our programs and priorities in light of the ideals of Rio and ask whether we are in fact doing our utmost to achieve a sustainable society in this country.

First, there is choice of priorities. Rio deliberate program focused on creating forces us to ask hard questions. Are we a sustainable society, we cannot claim in fact devoting our resources to the to be meeting the standard we primary problems obstructing

ourselves helped set at Rio. It is our sustainability in the United States? Are task to push the envelope by creating we setting goals that we could defend far-reaching solutions. We need to before the assembled delegates of Rio continue our work on energy-efficiency and the nongovernmental

incentives, but we also need to secure a organizations that participated? Could carbon dioxide tax. We need to we defend them not just as important preserve the Endangered Species Act, local concerns or as issues that we have but also to move beyond it with traditionally addressed, but as priorities large-scale ecological planning. We of global significance?

need to keep promoting recycling, but The cardinal global problems are the also to change the most basic attitudes greenhouse effect, loss of species and towards resources of all kinds in this habitat, and imbalance of population country, so that cleaner and cleaner and resource consumption. The United technologies are developed and waste States bears special responsibility in becomes taboo. each of these areas. We are the primary To reach goals like these, we must do emitter of greenhouse gases, with an more than work on issues one by one. average per capita energy consumption The U.S. government has formally many times that of the nations of the committed itself to sustainable Southern Hemisphere. We criticize the development. It is up to us in the destruction of tropical forests and loss environmental public interest of tropical species, but we have

community to make sure that this destroyed all but 5 percent of the

phrase, which is so poorly defined, is original forest cover of the 48

made specific and applied to every area coterminous states, and we continue to of governmental activity and drive countless ecosystems towards government-regulated activity. extinction. And we cannot in good

We must work for the creation of a faith ask the nations of the South to

federal mechanism with broad engage in family planning if we remain authority to review U.S. obligations unwilling to address the other side of under Agenda 21. The United States is the coin, our own grossly outsized rate the leading international proponent of a of resource consumption.

free market system, yet we have never Unless the U.S. environmental

faced up to the fact that at home we community devotes substantial

provide heavy subsidies for massively resources to these problems, in a

destructive practices.

(Adams is Executive Director of the
Natural Resources Datense Council, a
national environmental advocacy
organization headquartered in
Nate York City)

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