The RI draft Wildlife Action Plan is ready for review, and this week they've added a few more sections. I am briefly describing the content of each chapter, and I encourage you to review the plan and comment. Public attention is directed almost exclusively at economic development these days. But we should be mindful of how we go about repairing Rhode Island's economy. Our state's economy is closely connected with our natural resources, including habitats for wild critters, and it's not advisable to wreck the natural spaces in an effort to "create jobs."
Not surprisingly, there are quite a lot of threats to Rhode Island's critters and their habitats. Chapter 3 of the draft RI State Wildlife Action Plan lists them on pages 2-5.
Top of the list for species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) is residential and commercial development. Others include pollution, climate change, severe weather, and transportation/service corridors. Chapter 3 includes several aerial photos showing how prime farmland has been developed in recent years (1981-2004). Page 9 has a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) map showing farmland soil loss by development. Take time to compare that map with the one on page 13, which shows projected future land use in Rhode Island in 2025. How much of the state do we really want to "develop"?
"According to the NRCS, widespread development has resulted in a significant loss of prime farmland in Rhode Island with approximately 50,000 acres (25%) converted to non-farmland uses during the 23-year period from 1981-2004 (NRCS 2014) (Figure 3.2)." - p. 8
Since I am writing this the day before Thanksgiving, and probably everyone in the state is on the road, or trying to get out of the house to get on the road, or deep in the process of shopping for, cooking, and/or baking something for tomorrow, this is enough food for thought for today. But do take some time to digest the draft RI Wildlife Action Plan in the next couple of weeks! This weekend, go out for a walk in a park, land trust property or other nature preserve and see for yourself what the plan reports!