Front Porch Blog

Hands-on environmentalism: Landowners, environmentalists, and policymakers worked together…

[Mississippi] In the late 1980s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service served notice that it would likely put the Louisiana black bear on its endangered species list. Unfortunately, an Endangered Species Act listing can provoke fear among landowners who believe that the species uses their land. They wanted to save the bear, but they knew a listing under the Endangered Species Act could mean an end to property rights as they knew them. Eager to avoid a repeat of the spotted owl fiasco in the Pacific Northwest, which pitted loggers against bureaucrats and environmentalists, Louisiana farmers, timber companies, environmentalists, and regulators resolved to talk about solutions. Because 90 percent of the bear’s forested habitat rested in private hands, a private-public partnership was not only possible; it was essential. The result: About 350,000 acres of Mississippi River lowlands in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas have been planted in a mix of hardwood trees since 1990, creating new roaming grounds for the Louisiana black bear. Except for selective cutting, these lands must be kept forested in perpetuity.“The bear became an asset to the average landowner,” Davidson said. “I think we’ve probably had more bears today in Louisiana than we’ve had in a hundred years,” he said.




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