Getting to know the other species.

Author:McBride, Jenny
Position:Surviving Climate Change - Conference notes

The Surviving Climate Change Roundtable in St. Louis was well worth the trip from Chicago. Carpooling with people 1 wish I'd met long ago made the journey itself quite educational. Starting early Saturday morning, the panels on Energy and Healthcare found me taking lots of notes, an enthusiastic mish-mash of facts, well-honed phrases, and variations on the theme, "not compatible with our economic system." But I didn't write much during the third panel, "Earth, Air, Forests and Water." When the first speaker sketched a historic forest stretching from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, I winced, being from the prairie state.

This might not have bothered me for more than a few moments if I hadn't already been worried about the waves of anti-prairie sentiment that continue to threaten restoration efforts in the Chicago area. To make a long story short, where trees are being cleared to protect remaining prairie sites on forest preserve land, neighbors have been organizing to block restoration work. At one public hearing a resident proudly proclaimed, "I can't tell an oak from a buckthorn, but I like my woods." The anti-restoration backlash has been effective. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County (Chicago's home) banned prescription bums for several years. If you don't burn, trees start growing in the prairies, the prairie plants die from lack of sun and you don't have a prairie anymore. Not a problem for the humans whose property abuts the forest preserve, but a dire predicament for plants and animals that can only live in a prairie ecosystem.

A couple of comments during the...

To continue reading