This is what the Rutland Herald had to say about our impact on Vermont’s ecosystems.
In the introduction to “The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry,” there is a quote from writer Paul Kingsworth: “In patience, in slowness, there is hope. In the places where we often deposit our hopes, meanwhile, there is less.”
Kingsworth is going out of his way to talk about how Berry, the renowned American poet, essayist and farmer, uses his many skills to tilt at the windmills adversely affecting our natural environment. “Berry’s questing thoughtfulness challenges traditional political categories; challenges notions of activism, of movements, of politics itself on a national and global scale.” For decades now, Berry and his cohorts have reshaped how we think about the natural world, appreciating its gifts.
While Berry cannot be associated with saving one species or another, his writings have made us aware of our shortcomings and effects on ecosystems.
Blessedly, while the needle has been moved, we all need to think more broadly about how we can make the difference for animals, birds and insects living here in Vermont. Several physical areas are in need of protection to allow species to nest, grow and flourish.
The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking input on a plan to remove the bald eagle from the state’s list of threatened and endangered species. A hearing was held earlier this week, but the state, accepting public comments regarding the proposed changes, can be emailed until Oct. 13 to ANR.FWPublicComment@vermont.gov online.
The Vermont Endangered Species Committee determined that since 2006, the bald eagle population in the state has grown to the point where it no longer needs protection. Last year, biologists discovered 64 young eagles in the state and more than 75 were found in the recovery region, which includes portions of New Hampshire and New York. Vermont’s list of threatened and endangered species is separate from the federal endangered species list, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The bald eagle was removed from the federal list in 2007. Also proposed for delisting is Canada black snakeroot.
But now the state committee is recommending several additions or changes in status. Among them:
— Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides L.), a flowering plant is a perennial member of the buttercup family.
— Houghton’s sedge (Carex houghtoniana) a small-tufted, grass-like perennial that is only found here in Vermont.
— The American bumble bee, a grassland species that nests above ground has not been documented since 2000 despite extensive bee surveys in Vermont. (Three other bumble bee species are currently listed. There are 17 different species of bumble bees in Vermont.)
— Also on the list is the Eastern meadowlark; and the brook floater (one of the most endangered freshwater mussels in northeastern North America).
The state also hopes to designate three small, rocky state-endangered common tern nesting islands in Lake Champlain as critical habitat. Common terns were listed as endangered in Vermont in 1989 due to declining population levels and low reproductive success. Since then breeding numbers have rebounded due in part to the annual availability of these islands for nesting.
The Aeolus Cave in Dorset, a network of hibernation caves, has also been deemed a critical habitat. It has been recognized as a bat hibernaculum since the mid-1900s. A number of listed bat species hibernate there in the winter.
There are also four state-threatened spiny softshell turtle nesting beaches also to be designated as critical habitat on Lake Champlain.
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported the ivory-billed woodpecker was among 22 animals and one plant that should be declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list, federal wildlife officials announced. They are gone for good, authorities said.
“The announcement could also offer a glimpse of the future. It comes amid a worsening global biodiversity crisis that threatens a million species with extinction, many within decades. Human activities like farming, logging, mining and damming take habitat from animals and pollute much of what’s left. People poach and overfish. Climate change adds new peril,” the Times wrote.
We need to remain mindful of our effects on the natural. We need to learn from those who serve as stewards for our ecosystems. And we need to, as Berry and others stress in their writings, do no harm.