The Loss of Wildlands At the National and Minnesota Scales Since European Settlement

The disappearance of unmodified wildlands in the lower 48 has been drastic. Since 1650 unspoiled wildlands have declined by 92%. Since 1900 these wild places have decreased by nearly 83%. For Minnesota, the loss of our wildland heritage has been no less alarming. Since pre-settlement Minnesota’s wildlands have declined by 95%. Within 20 years, if current loss rates continue, 99% of our original wild heritage could be gone indefinitely. When viewed in the context of wildland acres per person, pristine wildlands have declined from 383 wildland acres per person pre-European settlement to .5 acres per person today; a 99.9% decline. This paper attempts to capture the magnitude of loss at the national and Minnesota scales, during five time periods; pre-settlement, 1900, 1964, current day and 2030. The role of disturbance factors of logging, agriculture, mining, grazing, energy development, motorized recreation, residential sprawl and invasive species are evaluated for each time period.

Subject Matter Level: 
Saturday, January 16, 2016 - 12:15pm to 1:05pm
Bruce D. Anderson
Bruce Anderson is currently an Assistant Wildlife Manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) in Cloquet Minnesota. His current position involves wild life surveys, wildlife damage management, habitat assessments, invasive species management and Interdisciplinary support to timber programs. Prior to working for the MNDNR he had a 35 year career with the US Forest Service where he worked in North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and most recently on the Superior National Forest in Isabella and Duluth MN. During his Forest Service career he worked in program management positions for invasive species, wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, trails, rangeland management, wildlife, wildfire monitoring and recreation.
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