Do you know the difference between Conservation and Preservation? Yes, there is a difference and it’s stark!
“In the words of our founder Theodore Roosevelt, “Conservation means development as much as it means protection.” Aldo Leopold said, “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” Gifford Pinchot said, “Conservation means the wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of man.”’ (Cummins, 2022)
The above quote was taken from the Summer 2022 issue of Fair Chase, The Official Publication of the Boone & Crockett Club in the issue’s Conservation Policy Column regarding the current federal administration’s America The Beautiful Initiative. I just happened to run up against the article and the one from the Buffalo Bulletin, linked below, on the heels of a whirlwind tour of Wyoming, interviewing experts in the game and fish department, wildlife organizations and the energy industry, all stakeholders in the conservation initiatives playing out in Wyoming and across the West.
Each of these folks acknowledged a difference between conservation and preservation but I’m taking it a step further in this op-ed… Preservation is an aspect of conservation, NOT a separate entity. They are inextricably linked and work together to achieve a goal.
Unfortunately, there are too many preservation groups masquerading as conservation groups on the landscape today. It’s no different than falsely referring to poachers as hunters. It’s more than just wrong though, it’s misleading and ultimately harmful to the credibility of legitimate conservation groups such as The Boone & Crockett Club, Pope & Young Club, TRCP, RMEF, Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and others.
Now, I’m all for using teamwork to achieve a worthy goal but the goal that the linked article from Buffalo Bulletin is pushing is pure preservation when it should be conservation.
In my opinion, instead of filing appeals and creating litigation to force preservation of a sensitive population of Wyoming pronghorns and their migration corridor, groups like the Western Watersheds Project could and should call upon the creative and collaborative conservation track records of groups like those I’ve listed above. Failing to do so is arrogant, fool hardy and puts the future of both the animals and people living on the landscape in peril. There is a better way and it’s the teamwork based approach of conservation, not the narrow minded and myopic approach of preservation at all costs.
I understand the sensitive and precarious nature of this particular group of pronghorn, their migration route and the possible implications of development on local sage grouse as well. However, complete and total preservation with zero attempt at conservation, meaning development AND protection, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Thus, to my point regarding the stark difference between conservation and preservation… preservation is a tool used by conservation and is a last resort when other efforts fail. Preservation by its very nature is extreme and exclusive. Conservation is teamwork aimed at the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.
When we work together with conservation as the end game everyone wins.
Cummins, J., & Roosevelt, S. (2022, Summer). Conservation Policy Column: American The Beautiful Initiative. Fair Chase: The Official Publication of the Boone & Crockett Club, Volume 38(number 2), 10-11.