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Solar Panels

Utility-scale solar energy can be a tool for conservation, economic development

While many land trusts are concerned about climate change, few are messaging about solar in a manner that promotes larger-scale developments that work towards wildlife habitat, water absorption, and farm viability. Natural climate solutions will falter if we don't slow down the use of fossil fuels, quickly. Here's an example of an organization taking a proactive approach.

To put it plainly, these proposed projects will not destroy the natural environment nor negatively impact the watershed if they are approved and built in line with Linn County’s existing ordinance for solar energy projects. In fact, with a diverse mix of native grasses and wildflowers cultivated on-site, these proposed projects can significantly improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators, going a long way to restore Iowa’s landscape.

Furthermore, by using wildlife-style fencing instead of traditional chain link fencing, these sites can be a home for upland nesting birds such as ring-necked pheasants, quail, and other grassland birds like the dickcissel…

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Forest Path
Creative Commons

Cold Hollow to Canada

Cold Hollow to Canada's mission is to maintain ecosystem integrity, biological diversity, and forest resiliency throughout the Cold Hollow to Canada region, with a focus on community-led stewardship and the conservation of our working landscape in the face of a changing climate.

When a hundred community members came together in late 2008 to discuss the future of their shared landscape, no one in the room had an inkling of what might come of it…

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Monarch © Bark

Monarchs and climate change

The monarch is most commonly found in North America. This is likely something that could resonate with many people you know...

“Monarch Butterflies are very sensitive to changes in temperature as they rely heavily on this factor to prompt migration, hibernation and reproduction. Thus, changes in temperature due to climate change are expected to influence and potentially disrupt these critical stages of the butterflies’ life cycle…”

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Compounded effects of climate change and habitat alteration shift patterns of butterfly diversity

Climate change and habitat destruction have been linked to global declines in vertebrate biodiversity, including mammals, amphibians, birds, and fishes. However, invertebrates make up the vast majority of global species richness, and the combined effects of climate change and land use on invertebrates remain poorly understood…

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‘Climate change’ may be a key factor in declining butterfly populations

The public tends to blame habitat loss and pesticides for the declining butterfly populations in the Western United States. But climate change maybe an equal, if not greater, factor.

As Pennisi points out, “butterflies are at risk in open spaces, too.” She writes: “Art Shapiro, an insect ecologist at the University of California, Davis, and colleagues have shown that over the past 35 years, butterflies are disappearing even in pristine protected areas such as the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the western United States”…

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Moose in a warming climate

I love moose. They and other wildlife are part of the reason why I work so hard to slow down climate change. Yet the future of moose in this country is looking grim if we don't work quickly to slow down climate change, and get off fossil fuels.

“Moose populations across the northern United States are declining as the climate warms up. You wouldn’t think that a temperature increase of only 1.5 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit would kill a moose, but it appears that it does. In northwestern Minnesota, nearly all the moose have disappeared, and in northeastern Minnesota over 90 percent of the moose calves are dying during some years. Moose hunting is no longer allowed in Minnesota…”

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Climate change strategies

Land trusts all over the country are focusing on landscape-scale, climate-resilient lands for protection. It will also be important to prioritize community lands, as well as lands for human refuge and resilience.

The Land Trust of Napa County (LTNC) is actively working to incorporate the challenges and threats posed by climate change into both its land conservation and natural resource management strategies, with a focus on protecting and restoring the ability of our local ecosystems to respond and adapt to warming temperatures. LTNC has dramatically increased its pace of land protection and stewardship throughout Napa County over the last five years to more effectively address these pressing issues…

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Happy Farmers
Rachel Leathe/Bozeman Chronicle

American Farmland Trust calls on the Biden administration to protect and conserve 30% of working farmland and ranchland to achieve 30×30

It would be helpful if you shared on social media and reached out to your representatives to say how much you support the 30 x 30 effort — and to let them know it's important that they help counter misinformation. American Farmland Trust has a good post you can read here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, American Farmland Trust released “Agriculture’s Role in 30×30: Partnering with Farmers and Ranchers to Protect Land, Biodiversity, and the Climate” outlining agriculture’s critical role in the effort to “conserve at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030” as put forth in the Biden administration’s January 27, 2021, Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. AFT’s recommendations make it clear that we urgently need to both permanently protect five percent of vulnerable working lands from being converted to development and support landowners’ voluntary efforts to implement conservation practices on an additional twenty-five percent of working lands, particularly in biodiversity hotspots, key connectivity corridors and areas with high carbon sequestration potential.

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NRDC website

30 x 30: NRDC’S commitment to protect nature and life on earth

This initiative provides a ray of hope into our collective efforts to conserve what has become even more important to our communities during the pandemic.

“To prevent mass extinctions and bolster resilience to climate change, scientists warn that we must protect at least 30 percent of our lands, rivers, lakes, and wetlands by 2030. At the same time, we must also fully and highly protect at least 30 percent of our oceans by 2030 to help safeguard marine ecosystems and fisheries that provide food, jobs, and cultural sustenance to billions around the world.

We have the tools to create a better, healthier future for our planet—and ourselves—but we must act now…”

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Loon Stretch
Ray Yeager

Changes in migratory bird patterns likely caused by climate change, study finds

So many people love birds. Explaining why slowing down climate change to help birds survive is a key way to inspire action. You'll want to help them understand that "natural climate solutions" are only part of the solution — and that moving to renewables and energy conservation is critical.

Flowering plants are blooming earlier as a result of climate change, which shifts relationships between birds and their food sources.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds, for example, are arriving at breeding grounds at a different time than the blooming of their traditional food sources. Studies show that hummingbirds are arriving earlier at their breeding grounds than in the early 1900s.

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