Breath of Clarity

Assumptions and Values of Natural Resource Management Approaches

Although preservation and conservation have the same purpose of supporting the environment’s health, they still vary in approach. In the late 1800s and early 20th century, there was not enough scientific data and technological progress to effectively manage wildlife or landscapes (Sparling 2014, 43). That said, instead of putting conservation mechanisms in place, the focus was to preserve natural wonders (Sparling 2014, 43-44). By definition, preservation is a no-interference policy involving no direct management (Sparling 2014, 44). That said, preservation values wildlife and landscape”s original state of existence before interacting with anything that may degrade their conditions. Preservation also functions under the assumption wildlife and landscape can heal itself due to ecological processes and the laws of nature as long as it’s being protected. If preservation is associated with land, access to the area is often restricted to reduce human disturbance (Sparling 2014, 4). If it is a rare species, access to its habitat may be similarly restricted or an agency may decide to reduce the disturbance as much as possible, or the species may be so rare that it will either have to have special protection or be relocated entirely to captivity until enough information is obtained about its ecological needs that it can be restored to the wild (Sparling 2014, 4). Preservation is needed to ensure issues are not being ignored and problems are not escalating in severity to the point where there will no longer be any sort of option to implement conservation.

Most landscapes and wildlife populations respond better to conservation which implies some management and maintenance to retain ecological value (Sparling 2014, 44). For example, in 1982, only 22 California Condor birds existed in the wild, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to bring all surviving California Condor birds into captivity until they could determine what to do with the species (Sparling 2014, 5). That is the preservation portion of the actions taken to save the species, and by 1987 there were no California Condors left in the wild while there were some still resting in captivity (Sparling 2014, 4). However, the story also involves conservation, in that many of the California Condor pairs in captivity reproduced and biologists would hand-rear hatchlings (Sparling 2014, 4). After eight years in captivity, the population had grown sufficiently to allow limited releases (Sparling 2014, 4). Today, there are about 300 California Condors in existence, with around 70 out in the wild (Sparling 2014, 4). Clearly, the collaboration between preservation and conservation is optimal. Conservation is necessary to make the destruction halt that is achieved through preservation grow overtime, as well as improve the conditions to a state even better than when the preservation begun. Conservation leverages the technological advances made in human history to heal the planet which is crucial to enabling its own species to live on.

The issue of climate change brings a serious sense of urgency to understand how preservation and conservation can function in tandem. The approach of preservation is needed to make sure enough attention is given to environmental problems to ensure issues do not worsen at a higher degree than the current rate of destruction. The foci of preservation in terms of bringing attention to environmental problems is illustrated in the part 1 segment of Walter Kronkite’s CBS news coverage on Earth Day as the anchor explained Biology Professor Barry Commoner’s effort to convey the planet’s health was in a severely poor condition. (1970). The value of unity is also a key aspect of preservation as Commoner was describing the problem as universally applicable to all humans as he said “we are in a crisis of survival” (Kronkite 1970). Kronkite went on to explain the need as a “common cause of saving life” (1970). Kronkite even highlighted a negative characteristic of the demonstration the news episode was covering was its participants were predominantly young and white, but also said the message to act was communicated (1970). The high school demonstrators only cleaned up litter and the bikers only decided not to drive gas-powered vehicles (Kronkite 1970). While all people have the potential to preserve, not everybody can necessarily implement conservation. The latter requires techniques and tools not understood and accessible to everyone. Although, in the part 2 segment of Walter Kronkite’s CBS news coverage, Senator Gaylord Nelson described citizens can elect a Congressional leadership body that will put effective conservation infrastructure into place (1970). Global climate change challenges the United States to not only preserve, but also conserve, wildlife and landscape.


Kronkite, Walter. 1970. “1970 Earth Day – Part 1.” CBS News. Youtube. April 11, 2010. Video, 3:21:

Nelson, Gaylord. 1970. “1970 Earth Day – Part 2.” CBS News. Youtube. April 11, 2010. Video, 1:29.

Sparling, Donald W. 2014. Natural Resource Administration: Wildlife, Fisheries, Forests and Parks. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 1-49

Comment by Cody Baker:

That is an excellent point that not every individual has the ability to participate in conservation efforts. I have noticed recently that there have been some great strides in products to help reduce waste. After reading what that last paragraph I realized that these would fall under preservation, as the act of conservation requires knowledge for the field in question. I am looking forward to when these recent inventions and discoveries are being used by major corporations and the public. Here are some examples that I have found this past year:

Orange Fiber – sustainable fabrics from the by-products of citrus fruits diverting food waste

Desserto – sustainable plant based vegan leather made from cactus

GIC Bellomar – recycles waste cooking oil into soap and detergents

Carlo Ratti Associati – first fully compostable pen

RevyDry – t shirt made from recycled coffee grounds

Terracycle – takes hard-to-recycle materials and turns them into new products

My Comment:

Hi Cody,

Considering conservation requires knowledge as well as implementation of land and/or water management, it is important to value the insight and care that indigenous inhabitants bring to the areas in which they live. Just as a musician specializes in a genre, a given tribe is an expert about its particular habitat. Since families are important sites for passing down culture, the indigenous people are raised with the responsibility to care for the species they consider relatives through land management activities (Willette et al 2016). For example, through the Ti Bar Demonstration Project, the Karuk tribe of the Klamath River Basin pioneered prescribed burning which turned out to be a successful form of land management (Norgaard 2014). However, years later, the court case Karuk Tribe of California v. U.S. Forest Service revealed a lack of consultation between federal agencies and the indigenous people during a key river restoration project. The absence of consultation violated the Endangered Species Act because the U.S. Forest Service never provided Notices of Intent to tribal groups in the planning stage (O’Dea 2013). A Chippewa councilor explained, it is logical for indigenous people “to talk to the design engineers and the consultants that work on these projects and let them explain at an ecological level, supported by data, with that spirituality behind it” (Fox et al 2017, 532). I agree, it makes sense to collaborate.


Fox, Coleen, Nicholas James Reo, Dale A. Turner, JoAnne Cook, Frank Dituri, Brett Fessell, James Jenkins, Aimee Johnson, Terina M. Rakena, Chris Riley, Ashleigh Turner, Julian Williams, Market Wilson. 2017. “‘The River is Us; The River is in Our Veins’: Re- Defining River Restoration in Three Indigenous Communities”. Sustainability Science. 12. pp: 521-533.

Norgaard, Kari. 2014. “The Politics of Fire and the Social Impacts of Fire Exclusion on the Klamath”. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations. 36. pp: 77-101.

O’Dea, Elise. 2013. “A Salmon’s Travels: The Forest Service’s Struggle to Secure Proper Environmental Protection”. Ecology Law Quarterly. 40 (20). pp: 565-572.

Willette, Mirranda and Kari Norgaard. 2016. “You Got to Have Fish: Families, Environmental Decline and Cultural Reproduction”. Families, Relationship and Societies. 5 (3). pp: 375-392.