From my aerie above Minneapolis’ Loring Park I watch red-winged blackbirds in the cattails. Ring-billed gulls dive into the pond and soar against blue sky. Hoodlum crows harass a pigeon, feathers fly as mallards have sex, and a red-tailed hawk awaits its meal. If any of these birds disappeared, a part of me would die.
And birds are disappearing: More than 500 species are now endangered worldwide. I don’t remember the last time I saw a meadowlark or heard a whippoorwill. Having watched suburban "developments" steadily replace woodland habitat over the years, I’m sounding an alarm and urging readers to pay attention to a handful of wilderness conservation magazines.
One of the best is Wild Earth, journal of the nonprofit Wildlands Project, an organization headed by Dave Foreman (founder of Earth First!). In its pages you’ll read clear-thinking articles on biodiversity and conservation strategy, well-reasoned policy debates, essays, and even some poetry. A recent edition focused on "citizen science"—the contribution of amateurs collecting data for conservation scientists. Subscriptions: $35 (4 issues) from Box 455, Richmond, VT 05477; www.wild-earth.org
Defenders, colorful magazine of the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, focuses on news about threatened species and what humans are doing on their behalf. A recent issue looks at road kills and the wildlife overpass bridges on the Trans-Canada Highway designed to lessen animal deaths. Defenders also keeps an eye on legislation and anti-ecology corporate lobbyists. Subscriptions: $20 (4 issues) from 1101 14th St. NW, Suite 1400, Washington, DC 20005; www.defenders.org
Glossy National Wildlife contains beautiful photos, but don’t assume from this that its coverage is superficial. One recent edition of this National Wildlife Federation publication contained a well-researched and engaging article about the damaged Colorado River Delta, a practical report on using rainwater runoff to irrigate gardens, and an alert about toxic antifreeze. Subscriptions: $15 minimum contribution (6 issues) from 11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston, VA 20190; www.nwf.org
Earth First! Journal is downright militant, advocating—sometimes more than a little wildly—for civilly disobedient action and even sabotage on behalf of wildlife. The organization’s motto, after all, is "No compromise in defense of Mother Earth." Put out collectively by people whose legal names are not revealed (they are called, for example, Sky and Turtle), its strong point is not rhetoric, but rather action alerts about logging, road-building, and threats to sensitive habitats around the world. Subscriptions: $30 (8 issues) from Box 3023, Tucson, AZ 85702; www.earthfirstjournal.org
Also worth noting: Living Bird, "for the study and conservation of birds" (Subscriptions: $35 for 4 issues from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Box 11, Ithaca, NY 14851-9803; www.birds.cornell.edu/publications/livingbird) and Audubon, from the National Audubon Society (Subscriptions: $35 for 6 issues from Box 52529, Boulder, CO 80322; www.audubon.org).
This Just In
Appeal to Reason, an anthology of 25 years of In These Times magazine, has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Contributors include many of the usual suspects—like Pat Aufderheide, David Moberg and Salim Muwwakil—as well as such unexpected names as Terry Southern and Ariel Gore ($19.95; www.sevenstories.com).
Wild Matters is the new incarnation of the magazine formerly known as Food and Water Journal. Published in a large format, it blasts "irreverent views" against middle-of-the-road liberalism, runs texts by radicals of the past (Emma Goldman, for example), and occasionally includes poetry. Subscriptions: $25 (10 issues) from Box 543, Montpelier, VT 05601; www.foodandwater.org
Urban Wilds: Gardeners’ Stories of the Struggle for Land and Justice is an inspirational compilation that encourages people to transform cities into greener places. The book describes projects from planting trees in Oakland and turning a Tucson parking lot into a swale to victory gardens in support of political prisoners. $10 from Box 3831, Oakland, CA 94609; distributed by AK Press, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, CA 94612