We asked the Spring Creek community to suggest some things we can all do to help stem the loss of wild species and their habitats, and we received many thoughtful, creative ideas. Some are hands-in-the-dirt pragmatic. Others are more idealistic or theoretical. Since we’ll need to change our minds, our hearts, and our habits to create a culture that celebrates and supports wild nature, all these suggestions can help.

Here are our top three favorites (which earned their authors a free copy of Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction) and a selection of other great entries. Thanks to all who participated, and thanks for working on behalf of wild nature.

Our favorites:
1. Create wildlife underpasses along Oregon roads wherever possible when highway construction (and reconstruction) eliminates existing wildlife travel routes. (Carla Perry)
2. Work to connect children to wild places so they can know them, appreciate them, and love them. (Lisa Zerkle)
3. Know your nature / The world around, and inside / As one, both survive. (Pepper Trail)

More good ideas:

4. Learn to love again the wildness within; then fight anew for the wildness without.
5. Give inherent rights to natural communities to exist, persist, and regenerate their natural cycles in law.
6. Possibly the best way to reduce extinctions is to grow plants and vegetables organically. Pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, kill honey bees. Organic agriculture also diminishes the impacts of GMOs.
7. Redirect money we spend on domestic pets toward guaranteeing wild animals in wild spaces.
8. Abandon tepid incremental approaches and dedicate ourselves to a radical revisioning and restructuring of our political economic system.
9. Abolish the penny and nickel, useless currencies, so we can stop mining for both.
10. Support land trusts and conservancies that preserve, protect, and rehabilitate ‘at-risk’ habitats.
11. Plant more native plants in your backyard to help maintain ecosystems that support local wildlife!
12. Wake up to our fundamental connection to the nonhuman communities and their habitats; their fate is our fate.
13. Talk to your family members who don’t believe in climate change about it, no matter how un-fun the conversation.
14. Reduce your meat consumption and support farmers working to reconnect food systems with ecosystems. Every bite counts!
15. Vote. Elections have consequences. Enforcement of, and support and funding for, the Endangered Species Act are among those consequences.
16. Walk or take the bus. Twice a week instead of driving. It’s almost a 30% reduction in gasoline use. Install solar panels. Cheaper than ever.
17. Be present: be aware; claim personal power; speak up for processes that sustain all life; join others; practice democracy.
18. Let everyone you know into the “secret” that you spend a heck of a lot of time outdoors. Teach by example, by touch and feel and breath, that outdoors and indoors must flow into one another.
19. Establish wilderness areas that allow no access whatsoever for any reason to human beings and rethink urban development to reduce spread.
20. Reinstate environmental policies that are being eroded little by little for profits. Work hard for cleaner air and water and direct all monies collected from polluters into conservation projects.
21. Slow down, scale down, group up!

Elizabeth Kolbert will be speaking at OSU, Monday, February 2, 7 pm at the LaSells Stewart Center. Kolbert is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. Her series on global warming, The Climate of Man, from which the book was adapted, won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine writing award and a National Academies communications award. She is a two-time National Magazine Award winner. She is also a recipient of a Heinz Award and Guggenheim Fellowship. Kolbert lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

In anticipation of Elizabeth Kolbert’s reading, Spring Creek is giving away three hardback copies of Kolbert’s powerful new book The Sixth Extinction. Here’s how to enter:
1. “Like” the Spring Creek Project on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/springcreekproject?ref=bookmarks
2.  Leave a comment on our Facebook page telling us (in 20 words or less) one thing we can all do to help stem the loss of wild species and their habitats.

The three best suggestions will get a copy of The Sixth Extinction. The deadline is Tuesday, January 13, 5 p.m.

If you are not on Facebook, you can email your comment to Erica Trabold, Spring Creek Project Intern: trabolde@onid.orst.edu

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Here are some links to a few of our favorite recent articles by her:

  1.  “The Big Kill: New Zealand’s crusade to rid itself of mammals” in The New Yorker
  2.  “Building the Ark” Zoos may have to choose between keeping the animals we most want to see and saving the ones we may never see again in National Geographic
  3.  “How the Paleolithic life style got trendy” in The New Yorker

About “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.” Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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