Golden Bear

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(HOST)Commentator Ruth Page describes action being taken to preserve the handsome, endangered Golden Bears living in a rainforest in British Columbia.

(PAGE) Jack Nicklaus may be the golfers’ Golden Bear, but I’ve recently learned of a real Golden Bear, in the wild.

She’s known as The Spirit Bear, or the white-colored black bear, though her fur is in fact honey-colored. Several hundred Spirit Bears reside in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, and are endangered. So far, collaboration among many entities (loggers, environmentalists, First Nation native communities and the British Columbia government) have agreed to negotiate protection for the handsome animals.

They plan to preserve one and a half million acres of rainforest valley. They will also outline sustainable logging practices adjacent to protected areas. So far, though, Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia hasn’t met his commitment to
pass legislation to protect the forest.

Four environmental organizations have financed advertisements
to bring public pressure to bear on the Premier to act soon. The beautiful area would be worth protecting even if the unique bears didn’t need it to survive. There are ancient red cedar trees, Sitka spruce, hemlock and balsam providing habitat for wolves, eagles and grizzlies, as well as the Spirit Bears.

For thousands of years, a number of First Nation communities have lived sustainably with all this flourishing wild life, including
the bear.

It can take years and years to plan workable protection for natural areas in need. The Natural Resources Defense Council and others began plans to save the Spirit Bear’s habitat nearly nine years ago. They found environmental partners to join them in asking Canadians to send petitions to logging companies, urging protection for the Spirit Bears.

Their efforts persuaded four timber companies to negotiate with them. That caused Home Depot, Lowe’s and other U.S. compa-
nies to agree they would no longer sell forest products made from trees in the Great Bear forest. The Defense Council named the bear’s forest home to their first annual list of BioGems.

For quite a few years, many environmentalists worried that there were too many separate environmental non-profits trying to do similar things. The Golden Bear project is an example of how,
in recent years, the organizations have been much more actively engaged with one another. They avoid waste and overlap, and share ideas. I bet that works better than having a single umbrella organization, possibly too massive to operate effectively.

I speculate that one way to raise money for the Spirit Bear, since it’s so irresistably attractive and huggable-looking, would be to sell Spirit Teddy Bears and donate a percentage of the sales’ profits to Golden Bear protection.

This is Ruth Page in Shelburne.

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