I’ve written about environmental journalism before – that there are fewer reporters covering it, even as there are more and more issues to cover. I wrote a post about this the end of January, “Needed: More Environmental Journalism (it’s 3 posts down the page).
When I saw this article about “Walker’s Plan to Freeze Land Purchases . . .,” in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this past week I knew I would share the link and comment on it. I think it’s a very good example of environmental journalism at work, explaining, and providing some context, for complex news. There are a number of controversial changes that are being considered for Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, proposed in Governor Scott Walker’s newest 2-year budget plan. Over the next few months – these budget proposals will be debated, perhaps amended, and eventually in some form, they’ll be approved.
Governor Walker’s Proposals for Natural Resource Management in Wisconsin
Among these changes is one that removes a powerful oversight role from a citizens natural resources board. This is a board that derives from the Conservation Commission created in 1928, to ensure citizen decision-making authority over natural resource management; this was an entity that Aldo Leopold helped to craft. The budget also calls for sharp cuts in the DNR’s research staff, and it would eliminate state money for the state park system. While the article linked to above mentions all of these things, it’s focus is on the governor’s proposed 13-year freeze of land purchases for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund.
This bi-partisan fund, named for two former governors, one from each major political party, has been very successful statewide in protecting important parcels of land through purchases and conservation easements. You can learn a lot about it, the reasons for the lengthy, proposed freeze, and the push back from many statewide groups in this article by reporter Lee Bergquist.
The Top Environmental Stories from Last Year
I would like to recommend one more link to good examples of environmental journalism. Near the end of 2014, EcoWatch, an online news source for such journalism, published this list of the 10 Most important Environmental Stories of the past year. At the top of the list are Obama’s EPA move to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and also the agreement between US. and China to cut emissions.
Other top stories highlighted include the drought in California, and a new report from the World Wildlife Fund on a 40-year study which documents a significant decline in wildlife. There are other interesting environmental stories, as well; I hope you’ll have a look at it. Knowing these things can help us all advocate for better decision-making in government, globally as well as locally.