About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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The American West is currently in a state of tensioned flux. The Old West built the foundation for the very land that we have come to love so much. The New West is trying to alter it in ways that upsets much of what The Old West was founded on. Both sides ignite angst in the other. The Old West cares about the land in its own way, wanting to preserve the land for ranching and recreation that founded the landscapes. Meanwhile, The New West wants to conserve everything, leaving The Old West wondering where there would be room for ranching. One solution could be simpler than we realize.
What people love about the American West is that there is still plenty of open space inspiring everyone who visits or who is fortunate enough to call a western region home.
My first leg of this trip was spent in the vast, open prairie expanses of Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan. The days consistently offered nothing more than gray skies, harsh winds, and biting cold mornings. I spent a bit of one of the later afternoons at the badlands of the east block when I immediately became ready to make an early departure for either Moose Mountain or Duck Mountain Provincial Parks. I ultimately decided to wait out the drive for one more night.
Upon awakening the next morning, I saw the moon shining brightly over one horizon and to the other, early daylight cresting the hills. Eager to exploit a potentially clear sunrise, I preformed a quick morning routine, got dressed, and stepped outside only to find that there would be no sunrise.
George Monbiot speaks about the rewilding process at a TED conference and why it is so essential that we begin to take it seriously.
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In a brilliantly fantastic TED talk, George Monbiot breaks down the trophic cascade from the gray wolf and even takes it a step further as he cites other examples of ecosystems where similar effects have been lost. He then proceeds to discuss the "rewilding" process, a process by which we follow the Yellowstone wolf example and begin to reestablish ecosystems that have long since been decimated. One way or another, however, nature will once and for all force us into learning to coexist with it.
During the last century, humanity has had an extraordinary leap in its awareness and consciousness. Long gone are the days where it was standard practice to kill animals that got in your way or even met you on the trail.
The gray wolf, 755M, licks his mouth after eating on a carcass in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park.
On Monday, August 19 of 2013, shocking news was reported that the Pine Creek Pack of wolves was held responsible for the deaths of 176 domestic sheep the weekend prior. The reports coming out were startling, and rightfully so. It wound up becoming the largest death of sheep in Idaho’s history. Most news outlets reported that the wolves caused it and it was case closed. Consequently, 13 wolves in the pack, nine of them pups, were put to death and the pileup was left out to lure in other predators to their death as well. The incident may be true and it may not be. The fact is there is a deeper story underneath the surface that begs to be explored.
Boulders overlook the badlands of the McCullough Peaks as the sun rises over the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming.
Driving along Highway 14/16 between Cody, Wyoming and the Bighorn Mountains for most people can be an excruciating experience. Mile after mile yields very little difference in landscape interest as the full stretch offers only a bland, sparsely populated high desert environment with only a small badlands hill sporadically placed across vast distances. As a result, many people would wonder why I would even bring up protecting an area so void of interest. Hidden beyond the main highway, however, is a completely different landscape obscured by its deceptively barren foreground.Why The McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area?
The drive along the highway brings you parallel to the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As mentioned, from the highway, it looks like nothing more than a wasteland waiting to be rescued from the oil and gas industry.
It is an unavoidable consequence of living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We frequently hear of someone getting too close to an animal and subsequently gored, causing severe injuries. Many onlookers consistently watch the patience of other animals tested to the brink as tourist after tourist almost seem to take pride in pushing the limit of how they can push the temperament of one of the native species, even if it is a one-ton animal. After all, that makes the bragging rights that much more "impressive." Often people are completely oblivious to the health and concern of the animal itself, surrounding it as if it were a decoration set out by one of the park employees for work.
Upon observing this behavior, people often ask, "What on Earth are they thinking?!" The simple answer is, they’re not.