The West’s Wild Future: A Vision for Rewilding

As the dust settles on the newly minted Inflation Reduction Act, with its $20 billion earmarked for climate crisis conservation, a bold vision for America’s West is emerging from the shadows of environmental activism. The plan, known as “Rewilding the American West,” aims to dramatically reshape the use of federal lands, prioritizing natural habitats over human enterprise and recreation.

Published strategically across various progressive platforms, including the Oxford Academia Journal Bio-Science, followed by recreational publications such as Outside Magazine and the World Economic Forum, the rewilding blueprint proposes the cessation of livestock grazing, mining, oil and gas extraction, timber production, and eventually, recreational activities on these public lands. The initiative identifies an extensive network of 11,500 square-kilometer reserves that would stitch together a corridor for wildlife stretching from Mexico to Canada.

This ambitious plan dovetails with the Sagebrush Sea Network, a conservation effort enveloping the habitat of the greater sage grouse across 13 western states, covering over 150 million acres. Together, these initiatives encompass a significant portion of the American West.

The timing of this rollout is no mere coincidence. It appears to be a strategic move following the Inflation Act’s passage, which may have been delayed until other green initiatives like the Build Back Better Act seemed off the table. Influential figures such as Bill Gates are credited—or blamed—by some for reviving these green ambitions, with Gates’ investments in alternative meat sources cited as potential motivation for pushing livestock off federal lands.

The rewilding strategy outlines a series of steps necessary for implementation, suggesting that the Inflation Act funds key components of this environmental vision. This includes not only conservation programs but also a new climate conservation corps, which could employ activists to advance this rewilding agenda.

The campaign to rewild America’s West is expected to be a gradual process, unfolding at local, state, and regional levels. Federal land management agencies will likely face increased pressure to displace cattle and people in favor of wolves, beavers, and sage grouse. Should these efforts stall, there is speculation that new national monuments could be designated—vast tracts of land that would dwarf existing reserves like Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

To counter this sweeping land transformation, Americans are urged to take action at the community level. The first step is to pass resolutions opposing the 30×30 initiative in counties within the proposed rewilding zones. Education and vigilance are called for to spot any efforts, however small, to execute this grand rewilding plan.

The rewilding campaign has its roots in the “Wildlands Project,” a radical environmental agenda from the 1990s that sought to limit human activity on vast swaths of American land. President Biden’s 30×30 plan has breathed new life into this vision.

The rewilding report justifies its objectives by aligning with President Biden’s executive order on “America the Beautiful,” which sets out to conserve 30% of US land and water by 2030. The report frames this rewilding as a critical step towards fulfilling the President’s conservation goals, driven by a moral imperative to prioritize nature.

As America stands at the crossroads of conservation and development, “Rewilding the American West” presents a controversial yet transformative vision for the future of the nation’s landscapes.

For further information on how communities can engage with this issue, model resolutions and a list of counties that have taken action can be found through specific resources provided by environmental stewardship organizations.

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