Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nick Wiltgen's view on Natural Resources and Regulations

Resources & Regulation
Nick Wiltgen
December 14th, 2013

                                                            Resources & Regulation
            Imagine for a minute a utopian society in which the natural environment flourished, seemingly untouched by man, where all of our natural resources were utilized efficiently and harmlessly, and there was no need for environmental regulations which in turn allowed us to lead prosperous, healthy, peaceful and harmonious lifestyles. Now imagine a society in which our tremendously fast paced, money-making and convenience driven lifestyles prompt us to nearly deplete our natural resources, in turn causing severe environmental damage and danger to the global climate, leaving us to ponder and assess how to better utilize and preserve our natural resources while establishing environmental regulations in an attempt to curb the damage to earth. It isn’t hard to imagine the latter, because this is the reality we live in. It is critical to assess our natural resources and to come up with regulations to sustain our environment and reduce our carbon footprint.
            So how do we, as a society, assess our natural resources? Unfortunately we cannot dream about a society in which our natural resources are untapped, because we need them to sustain our lives and meet the needs of the ever-growing population. The most important thing, with both renewable and non-renewable resources, is to approach them as delicate and use them wisely. The first step to assessing our land and natural resources perhaps comes from advancing our knowledge and scientific research. “Decision makers must know how natural resources may be affected by changes in the demand for or use of them, and what impact these changes may have on our economy, our environment, and our quality of life” (USGS). Fortunately, we have people, programs, and institutions, such as the EPA and Center for Natural Resource Assessment, that take on this monumental task. Without the tedious studies of environmental scientists and passion of those working towards the greater good of our planet, we would be doomed.
            Take logging, for example. We need wood for a variety of reasons – from building homes, making heat in fire places, producing paper, and all sorts of other products that we depend upon. While I don’t condone the decimation of the environment, as someone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, I understand the importance of logging. Oregon is the largest lumber producer in the United States (Business Oregon), and this not only produces a plethora of goods and products that people rely on, but also creates jobs and boosts our economy, allowing people to live appropriate lifestyles and raise families. However, clear cutting is frowned upon, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that cutting down trees is not in the best interest of the environment. So what can we do? The best thing to practice would be minimal cutting, and replanting of native trees. Things get complicated when regulations are put into place with various federal and state laws, and various parts of land – be it BLM/government land or private land. If a law says that clear cutting is prohibited here, it might not apply everywhere on a federal or state level. Just like many laws and regulations, there will always be loopholes. “Federal environmental laws that apply to BLM and Forest Service lands require analysis of environmental impacts, public input, rigorous stream protections, and protection and restoration of endangered species habitat. Private and state-owned forest lands in Oregon are managed according to the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA). This allows for clear-cutting, minimal stream buffers, aerial spraying of herbicides, and no public involvement in planned activities” (Legue, 2012). As you can see, regulations are put into place, with the environment in mind, but also trying to please the economy, population, and culture. Perhaps this is a happy medium.
As more and more environmental challenges appear before mankind, one thing is clear: we will eventually run out of our natural resources if we continue to use them so rapidly, and we must carefully assess them and look to alternate forms of renewable energy, such as wind, sun, rain, etc. In the mean time, we must take care of our planet, and creating environmental regulations is a step in the right direction – the difficult part here, and later, is managing these regulations to appease the earth, our society, culture, and lifestyles.
Business Oregon. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Legue, C. (2012). Private vs public: different lands, different laws. Oregon Wild. Retrieved from
USGS. (2005). Assessing our natural resources. Retrieved from

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