Hello and welcome back to Threshold Shift. I am your host Nicole Martin. We have weathered the winter and now we are back on the air for every fifth Saturday of the year bringing you more long-form soundscape immersion.
On this our first episode of 2018, we have a very special topic. As many of you may already know, America's public lands are under a lot of pressure right now from resource extraction and infrastructure development. The month of March in particular has been a rough time with a lot of rule changes, hasty permits, incomplete impact studies and rushed leases. Much as Portland is facing growing pains and displacement so too are our National Monuments, National Parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and tribal lands. Even Portland parks are feeling uncomfortable these days. So to sort this all out I'm going to attempt to guide you through these human-made thickets. The short of it is that public and tribal land management is VERY complicated in this country. There are at least ten major federal land management divisions housed under different departments—its head spinning, but if you'd like some visuals you can some handy maps on the Threshold Shift porgram page at kboo.fm. Public land designations are also more complex than one might think with at least seven major categories including Parks and Monuments. They are all made with different legal processes, different resource and access management guidelines and all these things and departments can and do overlap. Another important thing to know is that tribes have sacred lands that are not within the borders of their management jurisdiction. If you want to know more I have the beginnings of an Idiot's Field Guide to US Federal Land Management Policy and Advocacy started on the program page as well.
So now that you have the briefest of legal frameworks to understand certain elements of tonight's show lets get to thre real reason we are here, listening to the land itself.
The clips featured tonight are our threatened landscapes, particularly the ones featured in Zinke's shrinkage and the Tax Bill. These areas are but a tiny fraction of our public and tribal lands that are currently facing habitat loss, shifting weather patterns, human encroachment with it's accompanying noise and light pollution, and historically short-sighted resource management. There are many, many others. Two being featured tonight are up against imminent infrastructure building (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) for oil and mining. Currently, building is set to start this summer in the Alaskan Arctic—meaning clearing for roads, exploratory well drilling, well pads, etc .The first recording comes to us via Dr. Bernie Krause, author of The Great Animal Orchestra and a founding thinker behind soundscape ecology. Bernie's career has spanned fifty years and he actually wrote the National Park Service guidelines on how to appreciate and collect soundscapes in the parks. These recordings were collected by three teams he lead in 2006 for the first dedicated study of this area in part as a rebuttal to politicans claiming there was nothing in the region worth protecting. So in honor of the Gwich'in Nation, who for thousands of years have sustainably lived in this area with the caribou herds, we'll let the landscape prove the Senators wrong.
Timber Lake, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, USA 2006. Recorded by Bernie Krause, Wild Sanctuary. This is copyrighted material and all rights are reserved.
Again that was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge recorded in 2006 by Bernie Krause, Wild Sanctuary. We have two more segments from Bernie later so be advised this is all copyrighted material to which all rights are reserved. Please...don't be a pirate. Next we will be heading to Benson Pond in Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge recorded by Dwight Porter. Dwight had a prior recording featured in Threshold Shift's Oregon Episode also from Malheur. This one is interesting however as you will get a very clear understanding of what happens when humans don't pay a whole lot of attention to how much noise they are making in these protected areas and perhaps how that may affect the lives of the creatures inhabiting them. Out of place sound, aka noise, can come from any variety of places while recording in public lands—from individual voices, to industry, to gas-powered engines...to cows.
Benson Lake, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon, USA 2011. Recorded by Dwight Porter. All rights reserved.
Again that was Dwight Porter's June 2011 recording of Benson Pond in Oregon's Malheur Wildlife Refuge. We now travel east to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota with two recordings from Dr. Jacob Job of Colorado State University's Sound and Light Ecology team. Dr. Job also works recording for the National Park Service. Starting with a dawn chorus, we'll then move to a piece that highlights how humans can co-exist in. better harmony with nature. As Sigurd F. Olson, a founding member of the American conservation movement put it while exploring the same area, “...only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard...It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but someplace of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe.”
Dawn Chorus, Shell Lake, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota, USA 2017. Recorded by Jacob Job. All rights reserved.
Campfire, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota, USA 2017. Recorded by Jacob Job. All rights reserved.
Again those were the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness recordings of Dr. Jacob Job created in July of 2017. He has been making efforts to catalog that area of National Forest as it is facing pressure from Zinke's newly expedited permits for sulfide-based copper-nickel mining.
Next we will head south-southwest into Utah to visit sacred tribal lands and national monuments in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. First to Bear's Ears, designated a National Monument at the end of the Obama administration. Bears Ears is an interesting area with 100,000 archeological sites that date back some 3500 years and is held as a sacred ancestral homeland by numerous eras of tribes. The recordings of these areas we are about to experience were both made by Bernie Krause in 1989 commissioned by the Nature Company. The purpose was to record spring along the 111 Meridian from Mexico to Canada as it traveled north. The project was coordinated with composer Phil Aaberg and took over a month. The 111 Meridian is also known as the “Good Red Road” because it was used for spiritual vision quests by all of the tribes in the regions through which it ran.
Spring, 111 Meridian, Bears Ears, Utah, USA 1989. Recorded by Bernie Krause, Wild Sanctuary. Commissioned by the Nature Company. This is copyrighted material and all rights are reserved. Recorded prior to Monument Designation in 2016.
Again that was Bears Ears recorded in 1989 by Bernie Krause, Wild Sanctuary. Grand Staircase-Escalante was designated during the Clinton administration. It was one of the last areas to be mapped in the contiguous United States and is still considered very remote. It contains multitudes of canyons, pillars, natural bridges, archways and pristine night skies. It's chock full of rare dinosaur fossils, archeological sites, and petroglyphs as humans began living in the region around 500 AD. These canyonlands are also inextricably woven into the tribes' spiritual and cultural identity and have been for as long as they have both existed.
Spring, 111 Meridian, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah, USA 1989. Recorded by Bernie Krause, Wild Sanctuary. Commissioned by the Nature Company. This is copyrighted material and all rights are reserved. Recorded prior to Monument Designation in 1996.
Again we just heard Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as recorded by Bernie Krause in 1989 for the Nature Company. Both of these National Monuments have been drastically shrunk and haphazardly opened up to mining and oil exploration this March by Zinke's Interior Department, interestingly after lots of industry lobbying pressure. Again they also happen to be sacred tribal lands that are outside the sole management control of the tribes. It is somewhat dismaying the speed with which these lands were opened up and the fact that a lot of tribal commentary was completely ignored by the government as the federal government is legally responsible for holding these lands in trust and protecting the tribes' cultural interests.
Finally we are rounding down to the Four Corners' Greater Chaco landscape that is home to Chaco Canyon. Chaco Canyon is one of the archeological sites that caused members of Congress to write the Antiquities Act in the first place thus birthing the National Monuments and Parks systems. This legislation took a generation to write and was spurred by the canyon and surrounding sites being looted for the private art market throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. This area is also now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Dark Sky Park. The Greater Chaco landscape is the ancestral home to twenty-one distinct tribal Pueblos, who sometime after 1100 AD followed the disappearing water out of the region and resettled along more productive watersheds in the rest of the desert southwest. The interesting thing about the Greater Chaco landscape recording we are about to hear is that, as far as I have been able to find, it doesn't yet exist. I have spent two months reaching out to recordists, researchers, and tribal members all over the country and no one it seems has captured the natural soundscape of Chaco. If this is true, and I hope it is not, I find it poignant and devastatingly ironic that the Greater Chaco region has yet again become the national example of what and why these areas need study and preservation. How are we, as a nation, going to appreciate and protect something that we have never seen with our own eyes? Have not heard with our own ears? How much faith do we have? How much love can we summon? The story of Chaco is the story of all of us. All of us who go by foot, wing, or root—underwater, underground, or in the sky—who have not been allowed the space or means to speak. The chance to say to the world, “I am here. I am American. I have life and history and culture. And those things have worth beyond the market value of my possessions, my labor, or my organs. I cannot, and will not let another, put a market value on my spirit. For I am the lifeblood and source of democracy, of the consent that forms the government entrusted to represent, respect, and protect me. I am the common ground this nation stands on.” So for all those voices in the Greater Chaco Region and in all the landscapes across this nation that have yet to be heard, I offer instead a moment of silence so that the space will be held for when those voices will rise to fill it.
Moment of silence, on air. Greater Chaco Landscape, Four Corners: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, USA. Chaco Canyon National Park, New Mexico, USA.
Again we just held a moment of silence for the under-represented voices of the Greater Chaco region and all the other public lands that we have yet to hear. The story of Chaco is also the stories of the Pueblos who hold it sacred. Ninety-one to ninety-four percent of the region is already leased by the oil and gas industry. Zinke postponed, at the last minute, a March 8 lease sale that would have auctioned off the last 6-9% of it. I spoke with several individuals about what was going on in Chaco. It is a remarkable place, full of architecture that rivals Macchu Picchu in Peru and the pyramids in Egypt. It is central to the identity of twenty-one different tribes and holy in the way churches and graveyards are holy. It is holy for some in the way that Jerusalem, Bethlehem, or Mecca are holy. It is holy in ways which those of us not from those tribes can barely being to grasp. And we as a nation are allowing it to be destroyed. There are more profitable, productive places to sink oil wells in that geographic area not on sacred lands.. There are ways to balance energy development responsibly, that would not tax an already drought- and industral use- stressed watershed. The people living in this area are working very hard to use less. The tribes are working with heritage seed and climate resiliant agriculture methods to reduce their already small footprint. The Navajo Nation is growing at 4% a year, which makes it one of the fastest growing populations in the US. Forty percent of the reservation does not have electricity. They understand the complex pressures between humans and the environment. They have understood how to survive in this desert for millenia. But our government is not listening to their voices and experience, just like it currently is not listening to the 86% of Americans polled who said they did not want rampant development in our public lands. No one wants an oil well at the Statue of Liberty, but under proposed legal changes by this Congress and administration, it could theoretically happen as it's just a national monument. No one, as Mr. Roger Fragua from the Jemez Pueblo put it, wants drilling in their churches, in their graveyards. The storylines of the Chaco region would not be possible without the following people. Thank you to Daniel Tso (Navajo/Diné) of the San Juan Citizens Alliance, which works on sustainable management of the public lands, waterways, and energy concerns in the wider San Juan Basin. Thank you also to Rachael Novak (Navajo/Diné) for providing me a very brief overview of federal trust responsibility and federal Indian policies. Thank you again to Roger Fragua (Jemez Pueblo) of the Flower Hill Institute in New Mexico—a Pueblo non-profit focusing on climate resilient infrastructure techniques surrounding power, water, and agriculture as well as leadership building for Native youth.
There are better ways of moving forward in managing our lands, but they are being tossed aside and ignored due to a combination of expediency, greed, ignorance, historical denial, and a certain amount of political cowardice. We can do better America. We did in 1906 when Republican Theodore Roosevelt was president. Let us take better care of our lands, our earth. By doing so we will take better care of each other. Let us stand up, as one, for our lands, for our nation, for what it means to be an American. Let us stand up for our monuments and parks, our forests and mountains, our waterways and marine sanctuaries, our coastlines and night skies. These are our refuges as well. And money cen never replace the sacred.
Thank you again for listening to the March Public Lands Episode of Threshold Shift. You heard recordings from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the perspectives of those within the Greater Chaco landscape. All opinions expressed in this piece are those of your show host. You can find this episode and all of its accompanying research, maps, expanded content, and advocacy sources on the Threshold Shift program page at kboo.fm. Early next week a saltier, Thomas Paine inspired manifesto version of these concepts will be published on The Big Smoke and linked to on our page. There will also be an in-depth news interview focusing on more of the tribal and legal issues on April 5th between 5:45-6:00 pm for KBOO's Evening News. Our next program will happen on the last Saturday in June. So tune in then to KBOO 90.7 FM for the next episode of Threshold Shift where we give the mic to nature and amplify Earth.
For a closer view of the USGS Federal Land Map go here where you will be able to see the land regions of the US organized by the organization responsible for managing and conserving it.
For a comprehensive, interactive view of threatened National Monuments go here.
For a now five-year old review of National Parks currently or potentially facing oil and gas extraction, go here. Under the current administration the list has grown.
For ALL resource info and links go here, trust me it's easier to navigate that way. With thanks and solidarity, welcome to the Park Side.