McCormick to talk about environment |

McCormick to talk about environment

President of The Nature Conservancy is next in seminar series

Efforts to protect plant and animal species have been an environmental priority for years.

Efforts to protect their habitats have not.

That failure will be one of several points Steve McCormick, president of The Nature Conservancy, will make during his presentation at 5 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Hall. McCormick is the third of four speakers in the Seminars at Steamboat series.

“It’s been our outlook that the habitat aspect of diversity has been overlooked,” McCormick said Monday. “Worldwide, the habitat type that is less conserved, in the context of represented designated parks, is grassland systems. The most protected major habitat type is forest. To a degree, it is a reflection of aesthetics. People want to go into forests.”

McCormick emphasized the need to preserve forests, but he said that grasslands, although unattractive to many people, are important, diverse ecosystems.

The Nature Conservancy has a Boulder chapter and a presence in the Yampa Valley at the Carpenter Ranch, a 900-plus-acre ranch near Hayden. It was designed to conserve the natural, historical and agricultural heritage in the Yampa Valley.

“We, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years, have put more emphasis on habitat diversity, and that’s why Carpenter Ranch is so important,” McCormick said. “It is globally important.”

The central region of the U.S. has some of the largest preserved grasslands in the world. In the 20th century, protecting habitats from people drove conservation efforts. In the 21st century, McCormick added, he sees conservation efforts being driven by conserving habitats for people.

It will be a principal theme of Thursday’s talk titled “Protecting the Environment: What We Can Do Nationally and Locally.”

Conservation easements are another commonly used term in the Yampa Valley, and McCormick is well-versed on their value.

“A second environmental revolution is under way,” McCormick said, “and conservation easements are a principal tool in that work. Easements are one of the most powerful and effective means available for the conservation of private lands and the biodiversity they support.”

“Easements are successfully protecting millions of acres of wildlife habitat, natural areas and a way of life for many farming and ranching families.”

McCormick’s presentation is free and open to the public. It will last about one hour, after which McCormick will hold a question-and-answer session with audience members.

He knows that such topics as water rights and the looming energy boom in the West may be topics of interest for seminar attendees.

McCormick is on the Harvard Dialogue Group Advisory Panel and the Advisory Board of the U.S. Berkeley College of Natural Resources. McCormick has received numerous conservation awards, including the Department of Interior Silver Award and the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Award.

– To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail

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