Our Red Hot and Green series may be winding down, but things are heating up in the West. In order decrease the damage done by forest fires, Caitlin and a group of Defenders’ volunteers are raking for raptors!
By clearing pine needles and other flammable forest materials from large trees, they’re protecting habitat for peregrine falcons and great-horned owls in the event of a forest fire.
Like the bald eagle, the use of the pesticide DDT caused American peregrine falcon populations to crash in the 1950s. But with the help of the Endangered Species Act and a ban on the pesticide, the iconic bird made its recovery and was removed from the endangered species list in 1999. But now climate change poses serious threats to this success story and its forest habitat.
This spring has brought raging forest fires across the West. In Arizona, the Monument Fire has already destroyed almost 30,000 acres of land and damaged 64 homes and businesses. And the future is going to look drier and hotter still. Higher temperatures and increased droughts brought on by climate change will leave stressed forests even more vulnerable to attack by insects and pathogens, and growing numbers of dry, brittle trees pose risk of forest fire. This threatens habitat for a whole range of species, from birds of prey to lynx and wolverines.
Steps taken to help prepare wildlife and natural habitats prepare for a volatile future (like those by Caitlin and Defenders’ volunteers) are more critical than ever. The U.S. House of Representatives has now passed two amendments disabling the ability of government agencies to adapt to the extremes a changing climate will bring. These riders eliminate adaptation funding for programs within the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA and the Coast Guard, as well as a commonsense USDA policy that says agencies should plan for that future in a way that will prevent food disruptions, massive forest fires and economic hardships. These moves throw caution to [hot and dry] wind.
America’s wildlife and natural habitats need your help to fight climate change – and even if you aren’t raking in the Rockies, every little bit counts! What are YOU doing to shrink your carbon footprint and protect imperiled species? We want to know! Read these simple instructions and tell us what YOU’RE doing to protect wildlife from the harmful effects of climate change.