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2e9fba9c_242259The NBC news tonight reported that the population of giraffes has dropped by 40% in just 10 years, to about 80,000. When I took this photo of giraffes out on the great Masai Mara plain of Kenya about  10 years ago, and wrote about our safari it in an essay titled “The Masai Mara Hood Ornament,” I reported that wildlife in East Africa was then down about 60% since the 70s. Why? Climate change, human development, poaching, legal hunting. If the global human population had dropped as much over the past 10 years, we would have seen almost 3 billion people die. While the loss of so many of these magnificent animals is shocking in itself, perhaps their devastation makes them canaries in a coal mine:for mankind.

Everyone is taking about the new film, Intersteller, about a dying earth and the search for another planet for our species. A recent episode of The Newsroom dramatized the announcement, over a year ago, that carbon levels in the atmosphere and their consequences for mankind may be irreversible. And meanwhile we spend more and more on war and see renewal of primitive tribalism all around the globe, despite the internet and global communication.

I’d like to think there will still be giraffes, and people around to watch such wonderful animals, in the next century. What might we do to increase the probability of that?.  .

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The Village Board at Williams Bay on the shores of Geneva Lake, Wisconsin, a few days ago approved a perpetual land protection agreement with the Geneva Lake Conservancy. This conservation easement will guarantee the natural habitat at the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy, a beautiful 230 acre piece of land with native wetlands, forest, streams and miles of walking trails. The Kishwauketoe (which means clear waters) area was dedicated to “The Children of Tomorrow” when the village, in its wisdom, purchased the land from developers in 1989. Now it is protected for future generations to enjoy. What better way to celebrate Earth Day! See http://www.kishwauketoe.org. Kishwauketoe is at the inner curve of the first deep bay on left (N) of lake in photo.

It’s the birthday of writer and naturalist John Muir (books by this author) born in Dunbar, Scotland (1838). He fell in love with the Sierra Mountains in California and spent much of his time hiking and camping there. He was largely responsible for the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890, and in 1892, he helped found the Sierra Club. He published many books, including The Mountains of California (1894).

Just 40 years ago this Wed., April 22, 1970, the environmental movement splashed into the headlines as 20 million Americans turned out to mark the first Earth Day, the creation of Wisconsin environmentalist and U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson. Learn more about what it means to us today at http://www.earthday.org. This Sunday, April 25, there will be a massive Climate Rally on the national mall in Washington, D.C.

But Earth Day can start in your own backyard. In my own, this Wed., on a 6-acre arm of old oak forest, we will be doing a professional burn as part of a 2-year program to restore this old woods by ridding it of exotics and clearing the ground so that new young oaks might again spring up. This is part of a USDA-sponsored conservation restoration program.

Here in the Geneva Lakes area of southeastern Wisconsin, many people support community conservation efforts.
Our local land trust, The Geneva Lake Conservancy, where I’ve served on the board for a decade, permanently protects nearly a thousand acres of natural habitat on private and public lands through conservation easements. These voluntary land protection agreements allow communities, companies and individual land owners to create their own permanent reserves of natural habitat, which will remain through successive generations regardless of other nearby development. Learn more about land conservation strategies at http://www.genevalakeconservancy.org.

Protecting the environmental character of our own backyards, our greater communities and of our entire green earth is how we and you can make every day a good Earth Day.

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