RE: NANFA-- Bison, Kansas, and wacko extreemists...

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Wed, 20 Sep 2000 15:39:03 -0500

To all;

I have been a list parasite for some time now. You know, feeding on
everyone's information, knowledge, and experiences without giving anything
in return. Steve's reference to "neutral lurkers" has spurred me on to
attempt to develop a more mutualistic relationship with the list.
Therefore, I would like to offer to be a member of the judges panel if one
should be developed.

So who am I to make this offer? What can I bring to the table in the way of
expereince and neutrality? Well, I grew up in NE Ohio, not far from the
Cuyahoga River, in the 60's and early 70's. I also frequented the Mahoning
(nice work Rob C.), the Mohican, the Kokosing, and the Walhonding Rivers. I
was schooled in Wisconsin, a degree in Wildlife Management and Biology from
the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and I spent a lot of time in the
Little Plover, the Black and the Wisconsin Rivers as well as in the ag lands
and drainage ditches of the Buena Vista Marsh. I also spent two years on
the many waters of the Chequamegon Forest studying the local loon population
(and their prey base). I worked in Colorado mapping riparian habitat for
the BLM. I worked in southern Indiana, along the Ohio. I worked in
Tennessee and frequented many waterways in the central portion of the state.
Presently, I am in Texas working at the largest city owned nature center and
wildlife refuge in the country (3,600+ acres) along the West Fork of the
Trinity River. We even have a small herd of bison so I know first hand what
they can do to a waterway. For almost 20 years, I have been a professional
naturalist who goal has been to introduce the general public to the natural
world including our native fish populations and the habitat that supports
them. The various areas in which I have lived and worked have given me the
opportunity to hear virtually every argument for and against water use and
abuse and the opportunity to see the effects of the same.

Here in Texas, we have a volunteer program for which I am one of the local
instructors. The program, known as the Texas Master Naturalist Program,
trains interested people in basic ecological principles so that they may go
out and provide service to their communities as advisers to schools working
on outdoor classrooms, as laborers for parks trying to maintain natural
areas, as instructors for scout and other youth groups, etc. We have three
main themes that run throughout the training: 1) Nature is dynamic. 2)
Everything is interconnected. and 3) Everyone makes value judgements. The
third theme seems to be the one at issue here.

Unfortunately, value judgements are a huge part of environmental decision
making. What's more valuable, native fish or agricultural crops? How about
electricity vs "clean" water (an issue that looms on the horizon in my
current home town)? Note that I placed the word clean in quotations in the
previous sentence. That was intentional because semantics also play a major
role in environmental decision making. Clean water vs pure water vs natural
water vs healthy water vs clear water?. I spend lots of time trying to
explain why the clean water in our refuge is brown. The value judgements and
semantics of the arguments which have been stated on this list are not the
problem and can't be changed by throwing stones. Let's examine them free
from criticism and try to come to an understanding of both sides complete
with some degree of respect for opposing views.

If my offer is not accepted, I will suffer no ill effects. I am sure that
there are others out there who can offer as much if not more.


Rob Denkhaus
Park Naturalist
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge


How about a truce? I've been trying to ignore the lower points of this
thread for days, but since it shows no signs of fading, I propose that the
controversy be moved to the level of a structured debate. This could be
done online with a panel of judges chosen from among neutral lurkers, and
equal representation of midwesterners and outsiders. Two teams, ten
exchanges, ending with an online handshake. Where else but in cyberspace
could logic and emotion meet more equally, and in the process serve to
educate the rest of us to these important issues? Who's up for it? Bruce,
if this violates any NANFA bylaws, I will respectfully withdraw my proposal.

Steven A. Ellis
Kennesaw, GA

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