Big Lake Howliday Campout Weekend

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Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project hosted the Big Lake Howliday Campout Weekend last weekend in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, in the heart of Arizona wolf country. Many conservation organizations sent representatives, including National Wolfwatcher Coalition and Wolf Conservation Center. The Wolfwatcher attendees included Diane Bentivegna, Executive Director, Janet Hoben, Director of Communications and Outreach, Nancy Warren, Great Lakes Regional Director, Chris Cross, Director of Media, and Daniel Sayre, Southwest Regional Director. Maggie Howell, from Wolf Conservation Center and also Director of Wildlife Science Education for Wolfwatcher, also attended in support of Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project.

Given the nature of Mexican wolf recovery, wholly within the states of Arizona and New Mexico, events such as this are critical in building awareness, not only locally but nationally. With impending changes to the recovery program, this is a critical time for Mexican wolves. While Mexican wolves are the most genetically distinct subspecies, they are still critically endangered with approximately 75 living in the wild.

Wolfwatcher and Wolf Conservation Center representatives attended the events, in part, to more fully understand the politics, environment, and people involved in Lobo recovery in the Southwest. This was also an opportunity to step into wolf country in the mountains of Arizona to appreciate the land and history of conservation in the region.

A portion of that conservation history, published in 1949, Aldo Leopold’s ‘Land Ethic’ defined a new relationship between people and nature. He wrote: “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” If you are familiar with Aldo Leopold, you will also recognize the Green Fire passage within A Sand County Almanac. We were afforded the opportunity, as an organized event of the weekend, to visit the rimrock location where Aldo Leopold’s transformative thinking about nature and ecology began, where he shot the old wolf. Despite the ever present possibility of Arizona’s monsoonal rain and lightning, we would not be denied the opportunity to visit the location described in the Green Fire passage.

From the informative and thorough presentations, to the time spent on the rimrock overlook above the Black River where the fierce green fire died, all of us at Wolfwatcher appreciated the opportunity to visit Lobo country in support of Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project, White Mountain Conservation League, which is proposing an interpretive trail to the Green Fire site, and most importantly in support of the Lobos which make this area their home as an essential part of the eco-system in the mountains of Arizona.

 Daniel Sayre – National Wolfwatcher Coalition – Southwest

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