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Ted Lee Eubanks
Austin, Texas
Ted is president and CEO of Fermata Inc. and Great American Trails, both involved in sustainable recreation and tourism.
Interests: Birding, photography
Recent Activity
Marooned in Nebraska due to weather, Ted Eubanks finds solace along the Platte River. Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2013 at ABA Blog
Nate, I am good with this. Whatever the numbers (and they are mystifying) I am comfortable with the idea that feral cats need to be reduced. I outlined steps that I believe can be taken while to science helps us answer these important question. We don't have to wait on the research. But the moment that you tell the public that ""feral cats must be completely removed from the environment, and by that I mean active extermination" you are dead in the water. Let's focus on the steps that we can take, and wait for the public to get comfortable with what is needed.
Nate remarks that "that cats, as any predator, prey only on the sick, old, weak, and young..." Yes. It is that last one that is particularly troubling for bird populations. Yet how do we explain that populations of the most predated species have not shown declines? I am baffled by this fact. On islands, yes. Endangered and threatened species? Yes. You will get no argument from me. But why do we not see declines here in those species that cats are reported to prey most on such as American robin and northern cardinal?
Phoenix, you will see Kerrie Anne Loyd's KittyCam work quoted incessantly, as well as Castillo's 2003 paper. Each side in the debate has their own favorite suite of papers.
Chas, thanks for the link. I have the paper. I am interest in the proof that You'reWastingValuableWildlife can provide for his rhetorical claim/question "Is that the same vet that got rich off of TNR cash-grants from PetSmart charities for exploiting suffering cats and wildlife suffering from those suffering cats? That one?"
I tried to make my way through this discussion this morning, and I came across one comment that confuses me. Michael Retter commented that "The World Birding Center is only in Texas, is more than one birding center, and is not named after anything so far as I know. It's an incredibly arrogant name, in my opinion." Arrogant?
More food for thought, this from research in the UK. The paper is titled Who Benefits from Recreational Use of Protected Areas?, and is written by Josephine E. Booth, Kevin J. Gaston, and Paul R. Armsworth. This quote is from the abstract. Here is the link to the paper itself. "Public support for protected areas depends, in part, upon clear demonstrations of the importance of the ecosystem services provided by these areas...We found that an unrepresentative subset of society enjoyed this benefit. Site visitor populations were biased towards older people and men, and minority groups were starkly underrepresented, comprising only 1% of overall visitors. When the characteristics of visitors were examined, the more privileged sectors of society were found to have received disproportionate benefits....Conservation goals will only be met if broad public support for the natural environment is engaged and maintained, for example, through nature recreation. However, our results suggest that at present a worrying disconnect exists between public conservation efforts and much of society."
Toggle Commented Nov 23, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Jesse Smith, Philadelphia-based writer and curator, guest blogged on Amy Slaton's STEM blog about this past October's Focus on Diversity conference. Smith observed that "missing from all of this [discussion] was any reflexivity on the part of the birdwatching community. Indeed, any discussion of “barriers to birding” diverts attention away from the activity itself; such an approach assumes that problems lies not within birding, but outside it, either among the targeted audiences or in some intermediate zone between audience and activity..." "...when this connection comes via birding — via an activity in which participants’ success may be limited by factors such as leisure time, mobility, access to natural areas, and financial resources..., the effort risks reinforcing the marginality of those targeted audiences. " "Of course, this would require a reflexivity that is unsurprisingly absent from most realms. Birders at the conference, I’m sure, would find any critique of this event a surprise, laden as it with the good intention of making more inclusive a pursuit that they unquestioningly value for both themselves and the greater world. They’re not actively avoiding reflection. They may even be open to such criticality, should it be presented to them. Pursuits that deal with issues of diversity (and, though unexplored in this post, the environment and conservation), obviously have a place for this kind of thinking; the trick is in getting it in there. " Here is a link to the post:
Toggle Commented Nov 23, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Lee and Scott, among others, have been looking at this issue in park and human dimensions research. According to a recent paper by Lee and Scott, "the results showed that race/ethnicity was the best predictor of wildlife watching activities. Elderly White females who live in rural areas and have college degrees and high household incomes had the highest rates of participation in wildlife watching close to home. In contrast, young White males who live in rural areas and possess college degrees and high household incomes had the highest participation rates in wildlife watching away from home." This doesn't address the issue of why, but it does raise the question.
Toggle Commented Nov 23, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Of course, Alan. Happy U.S. Thanksgiving from me, not to be confused with the Canadian Thanksgiving Day in October or Boxing Day near Christmas :-)
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Thanks to everyone (on this Thanksgiving Day) for sharing your thoughts about this issue. Here is where I differ from many of you, however. I believe that the inscrutable whiteness of our recreation and of our organizations (birding or otherwise) is a symptom of a deeper illness. Perhaps we are on the mend, and this will cure itself over time. But when has racial division cured itself in our history? We sacrificed over 600,000 lives in the American Civil War, yet civil rights were not guaranteed to all until almost a century later. When we leave racial progress to chance we guarantee the status quo (how else can the U.S. Senate be without a single African-American?). I also believe that we can't wait for five-year-olds to solve the problem. I agree that engagement is part of the solution. But let's assume that we involve every child of color in the country in the outdoors. When they reach adolescence, they will begin to ponder what they want to do with their lives. Let's assume that they have become enamored with the outdoors, and begin to look for examples of how they can be employed in this passion. What models are there? What examples will we show them? However, this is a separate issue from that facing the ABA. The question facing this organization is whether or not it wishes to extend its relevance beyond a decidedly small segment of the population. Paul said that birding is not a sporting event. I suspect that some of our members would challenge this assertion. But let's assume that birding has a component of sport in it. As a sport we risk being relegated to the ranks of polo and yachting. The broader issue, the one that is my agenda, is whether or not nature will be seen by future generations as important. Continued political support for parks, refuges, sanctuaries, and the like depends on how the people, all the people, value them. We witnessed in this most recent election how easily the environment can be sidelined. Except for a brief mention of climate change after Sandy, the silence was deafening. Our issues, I am afraid, can be easily marginalized if the citizenry does not insist on their primacy. I do agree with Dan Cooper and David Berg (on another blog) about the importance of the relatively new urban coalitions and approaches. I do see groups working on environmental justice issues in the cities where I work. Cornell's efforts to link urban children to birds is an example of the possibilities. But whether or not we (by we I mean birders, interpreters, and conservationists) are committed to the effort, I believe, is still open to debate. As I said earlier, the most visible evidence that we are not is our inscrutable whiteness.
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Gabriel, let me make a suggestion. Work on civility. There is nothing about this discussion that requires histrionics. I do take kids out birding. Have you read any of my blog posts? You are excusing the absence of people of color in our recreation by saying that it is inconvenient. In any case, have a great Thanksgiving.
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Martin Luther King, in his I Have A Dream speech, warned of the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Have another toke.
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Great points, Dan. Thanks for sharing.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
I actually agree with Alan on this point (about my article, not about his decision to not renew). My mistake. I have now corrected it. I have added a section to the article specifically about Canada. I have marked this section with the maple leaf to make it easier to find. Canada's situation looks remarkably like the U.S. Thanks for the suggestion, Alan. I do think that it improves the article.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Thanks, Dan. If I remember correctly you worked for Audubon when I served on the national board. We were all white as well. Your point about recreational trends and demographics is excellent, but what about conservation? I can't see where anyone is well served by a disengaged population in this regard. I view recreation as the most effective tool for engaging people in nature. To my knowledge, none of the wildlife-related recreations (hunting, fishing, viewing) have significant participation from people of color.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Thanks for the information. Here is an example of what is needed, I believe. Ralph Brock graduated in the first class of foresters from Penn State - Mont Alto in 1906. Brock is the first African-American forester in our nation's history. Here is more information about Brock While working with DCNR in that region (South Mountain) I became interested Brock and his relationship with Joseph Rothrock. What an incredible story!
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Ah, but Jacob gave the cloak to his son, Joseph.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Lynn, I completely agree. In my profession women have made great strides. There are frequently more women than men at NAI conventions, and the new head of the NAI board is a woman. But I also agree that the boards of our conservation, environmental, and recreation organizations are still male dominated. According to the web the ABA has a board of 14 members of which only 3 are women. The 2005 ABA member survey reported a membership 60% male and 40% female. I wonder if the percentage of female members has increased since then. In any case, women are underrepresented on the board.
Toggle Commented Nov 21, 2012 on Inscrutable Whiteness at ABA Blog
Washington Monument by TLE The National Association for Interpretation (NAI), the professional organization for park rangers, guides, and educators, not to mention those who help you in museums, zoos, and the like, met in Hampton Roads last week. I presented, met a few friends, and caught up on the coming... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2012 at ABA Blog
My birding is patched. I have patches in my backyard, patches where I work, and patches where I travel. Patches are large and small, rural and urban, green and not-so-green, wet and dry. I like patch birding. I can get my arms around a patch. I can slip a patch... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2012 at ABA Blog
Thanks for the catch, Jeff. This has been corrected.
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2012 on Beautiful Truths at ABA Blog
The flight to Miami is squeezed. I dread the leg to Grenada. With age my ass is wider, my joints less pliable, and the seats skinnier. Thankfully the woman in the next seat is emaciated. The skies are friendly; I can't say the same for the hired help. My fellow... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2012 at ABA Blog
I shouldn't. Really, I shouldn't. No minds will be changed here. The opinions are fixed, at least among respondents. But there is always a chance of influencing a reader... First, my CV. I served on the Texas RBC, and have voted against one of my own records. There. My conscious is clear. RBCs are not about science, although, at time, they depend on the science. RBCs are about the game, about the score. RBCs are more akin to the Eastern Eurpeans sitting on the edge of the skating rink holding up their scores at the Olympics. Is the vote political? Do countries vote for their own skaters? None of this is inherently bad or evil. This is a simple solution, an extension of Ted's recommendation. Where there is even a potential for mistrust or misdeed, shine the light. Make the entire record public, including the notes that comprise the deliberation between members. Every RBC vote should be accompanied by an explanation of why or why not a particular member voted for or against. I clearly remember many TRBC records that inspired volumes of intra-committee correspondence. Simply make all of this public. Let people see how members vote and why. Of course there are jerks on the RBCs. But my experience is that the RBC jerk ratio is about the same as you would see at your neighborhood Walmart. Most members serve admirably and selflessly (I have never seen a better way to make an enemy than to serve on one of these committees). All I ask is that member explain why they voted the way they voted. So why did I vote against my own record? Simply - as Alan would say, it was crappy. When we wrote the Birdlife of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast we ran all review species records through the TBRC. One of those record, mine of a red-necked grebe some 20 years earlier, did meet my current standards. The Ted Eubanks of the early 1970s is not the same birder as the Ted of the 1990s. In this case, the vote was simple. The 1970s Ted didn't make the grade. My recommendation is to keep the existing process (votes) while making the process completely transparent, including deliberations (whether written or in person).
And, of course, this is precisely how we should handle adding or deleting states from the ABA list. We can rank states as good or bad. Good states have birds that behave well, and bad states have birds that behave poorly. Hawaii, Florida, and California are "bad," while states such as North Dakota and Maine are "good." In this way we escape the difficulties with listing numbers of species. We can focus on good birds and proper bird behavior, and ignore issues such as "self sustaining populations." Life lists, too, should be measured by the number of good birds seen, with extra points awarded for good birds behaving in an exceptionally good way. For example, the black-capped vireo feeding a cowbird chick gets extra points for the intent, and the cowbird gets a demerit for nest parasitism.
Toggle Commented Aug 26, 2012 on The Here and Now in America at ABA Blog