Natural Resources

Every year I take my Natural  Resources Law class for a guided nature walk and tour of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park located about 25 minutes south of Vermont Law School.  Here are some photos of this year’s excursion.

I’ve certainly been enjoying nature’s little pleasures over the last few weeks.  In the last week, I hiked Kent’s Ledge twice with a colleagues and students, awoke in the AM to beautiful white snow, went for a family walk with the dogs in Montpelier’s Hubbard Park, can go leaf-peeping through my own windows, and had a fantatic starry evening stroll on an unseasonably warm evening.  After a year in China, I truly appreciate these little bits of nature, and, even more than that, my family and I simply so content right now.  Things are well.

And now we’re returning to China.  I’m giving a series of lectures on environmental law at Sun Yat-sen University, doing a workshop at the South China University of Technology, doing some lectures for the US Consulate in Guangzhou, helping start-up an environmental law clinic in China, and meeting with a series of NGO representative in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, among other things.  We’re starting to let our Chinese and ex-pat frineds in Guangzhou know of our upcoming trip, and everyone seems just so excited about our return.  It really creates a this overwhelming warmth from afar.  While I had been some concerned about our return to China, now that it’s happening, it really confirms how much the year in the China shaped my professional interests and personality, as well as how strong our friendships in China were.

Control of the U.S. Senate is not the only thing at stake in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Harry Reid (D) and the challenger Sharron Angle (R).  With Nevada in play, so is the issue of whether nuclear waste will eventually be stored in Yucca Mountain, despite the President’s opposition to Yucca Mountain as a waste storage facility.

Writes Greenwire:

Nevada leaders hoping to stop the federal government from building a high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain say they are counting on the re-election of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to keep pushing their case.

Reid is by far the most powerful and experienced member of the Nevada delegation opposing Yucca, said Bruce Breslow, the executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects. Breslow said the delegation “had no clout until Senator Reid became majority leader.” Without Reid, “other states would have built an expressway to Yucca Mountain.”

In an earlier post I discussed famous Wisconsin conservationists and, as a small tribute, I mentioned by grandfather Gerald Czarnezki, a long time Milwaukee County Parks worker and naturalist who was a proud member of the first graduating class of the conservation education program at the Central State Teachers College at Stevens Point, now UW-Stevens Point.

In comments to that post, readers mentioned other noted Wisconsin environmentalists and one comment (admittedly made by my mother, who as a good mom actually reads my blog) felt compelled to list my dad, Joe Czarnezki, a former state senator who was the recipient of numerous “Clean 16” awards from Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade and author of the law which made Wisconsin the first state in the nation to legislatively ban toxic shot for waterfowl hunting.

Needless to say I am very proud of my family’s environmental history.

Since my family has now been implicated, in addition to my grandfather and father, I want to acknowledge the other conservationists/environmentalists/naturalists in the family.  I don’t want to embarrass my relatives, but I’m quite proud of them, and it should be of no surprise after reading this, how I ended up interested in environmental law and natural resources policy.  While I’m sure I’ll miss folks (and don’t want to list their names since they know who they are, and I don’t want to invade their privacy), my second cousin works in the Forestry Division of the WI Department of Natural Resources, my uncle is a former Alaskan Park Ranger who also worked at South Pole, and two of my dad’s cousins are, respectively, a former biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation and natural resources planner on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.  Family members are welcome to add to the list, which likely includes an additional four generations of my grandfathers that were foresters and lumberjacks.

I’ve started watching the Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and today showed the first hour to my Natural Resources Law class.  The film brought to mind two initial thoughts.

First, after watching about John Muir, I considered all the environmentalists/conservationists/outdoorsmen from Wisconsin (where I grew up)–Muir, Aldo Leopold, Owen Gromme, Gaylord Nelson, and, of course, my grandfather Gerald Czarnezki (a proud member of the first graduating class of the conservation education program at the Central State Teachers College at Stevens Point, now UW-Stevens Point).   Of note, Wisconsin passed the Conservation Education Statute that required “adequate instruction in the conservation of natural resources” in order to be certified to teach science or social studies, and the state legislature also required that conservation of natural resources be taught in public elementary and high schools.

Second, it made me want to create a lists of national parks that I want to see for the first time or return to.  The list so far:

  1. Yosemite
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. Kenai Fjords
  4. Glacier Bay
  5. Return to Yellowstone and Grand Teton with family
  6. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
  7. Redwood
  8. Glacier

I’ll keep adding to the list, and will likely add more  once I finish the Burns documentary.  Please feel free to suggest some additions.  The Park Service does have an interactive map online.

Updated: I’ve added to my list– 9. Muir Woods, 10. Crater Lake, 11. Zion

Vermonter Rowan Jacobsen wrote the book Fruitless Fall about colony-collapse disorder in honeybees.  My favorite quote is:

Like any livestock, healthy bees require good pasture.  And that’s what fewer and fewer bees can find.  You might say that, like us, they’re suffering from “suburban disease”: more roads, big-box stores, and developments, fewer wildflowers. (Rowan Jacobsen, Fruitless Fall 151 (2008))

Now this article suggests that scientists may be getting closer to solving the mystery of colony collapse disorder.  But while we may learn the scientific cause (e.g., virus, fungus), I think we must still address what factors might contribute to the honeybee populations inability to fight off the disease.

See article here.

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