A Left Coast Birder's Viewpoint
East Coast vs. Left Coast - Remaining Wilderness
Somewhere along our travels we picked up this map:
It is called "Outdoors America: Recreation Opportunities on Public Lands" and put together by the Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Federal Highway Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, USGS, and the TVA. It's dated 1998, but I don't think too much has changed.
The first thing you notice is that there's an enormous amount of "white space" on the eastern half of the US. What does the "white space" represent? Private lands = houses, people, cities, golf courses, cars, suburbia, Wal-mart, farms, people, traffic, strip malls, pavement, more people... you get the idea.
So this lead me to look up what percentage of public land is actually (somewhat) protected/managed by the federal government.
I found this very handy chart from Wilderness.net.
Wilderness is land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. I don't know when these data were taken, but their web site seems fairly up to date.
I modified and rearranged the chart by percentage of wilderness land with the largest first. I've highlighted the western states in blue and the eastern states in red.
Wilderness Acreage Compared to State Land Area
The most obvious trend is that most of the western states are listed first. There are a few eastern states, but overall the east coast is pretty much not protected. (And what happened in Ohio???)
Now looking at this chart and map, I have to wonder... this is all we're relying on to keep migrating birds alive? The Whooping Cranes really should check ahead and get a good mapquest route. What about the migrating pronghorn, deer, elk, butterflies...? What happened to "where the buffalo roam?" So many other animals rely on these small pockets of protected land. And I use the term protected lightly. These numbers include National Forest and BLM Land, which are frequently logged, mined, and grazed. So in actuality a much smaller portion of these acres are protected for wildlife.
Sure the east coast has some speckles of color on its side of the map - a wildlife refuge here a national forest there... But is it enough to save or even preserve the future of all that rely on these pockets? Is 4.96% sustainable?