The 2020 Natural Areas (Virtual) Conference offered opportunities to view presentations, participate in discussions, and network at your own pace through an extended conference experience.
The 47th Natural Areas Conference, Sierra to Sagebrush: Integrating Management and Stewardship Across Landscapes, focused on the unique ecological and management dynamics that distinguish the Nevada-California borderlands.
Although rarely mentioned as a primary cause of ecological degradation, the post-colonial fur trade inflicted profound damage upon North American landscapes through the extirpation of the beaver, a keystone species that dramatically modifies terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In the absence of beavers, millions of ponded acres dried up, hundreds of thousands of stream miles downcut and incised, and species across virtually all taxa lost critical habitat. Today, a growing coalition of beaver advocates centered in the American West, including members of both the scientific and livestock communities, are working to restore beavers to improve the condition of riparian areas. As ecosystem engineers and keystone species, beavers provide a broad range of benefits, including habitat restoration for salmonids, sage grouse, and amphibians; flood and drought control; the improvement of water quality and quantity; carbon sequestration; and wildfire mitigation. In this talk, Ben Goldfarb, author of the award-winning Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, will discuss the history and environmental implications of the fur trade; detail the ecological and hydrological benefits that beavers provide; and discuss a range of techniques for restoring and coexisting with this vital but occasionally challenging species.
Over the last several decades, it has become clear that the West simultaneously suffers from too much fire and not enough. While western forests burn at unprecedented high severity and cities and towns are threatened, even more fire-dependent habitats, creatures, and cultures are withering from a lack of fire. The paradox of fire in the West runs deep, and reminds us that in many ways, our fire problem is a cultural problem. The last century of fire management was closed in many waysexclusive of indigenous and local knowledge, dismissive of women and other underrepresented groups, and hardened to new ways of thinking about and relating to fire. This presentation will highlight recent efforts in fire that are re-framing the fire problem as more of a fire opportunityto work together, to innovate, and to understand the natural role and responsibility that people have for restoring balance in fire.
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