charles_post charles_post

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Charles Post  • Husband to @rachel.pohl • Environmental Lead @sitkagear • Supported by @KEEN • Editor @modernhuntsman • Co-founder @the_natureproject

It feels like every few months more of my childhood goes up in flames. I remember the first time I saw a tide of smoke fill San Francisco Bay like a deadly fog. That was back in high school before the mega fires, before November came without rain and winters disappeared, reduced to a fleeting memory of what once was.

Call it whatever you want. Go ahead and avoid the words "climate change" if it doesn't sit well with your political convictions, but open your eyes and see what's happening. Unprecedented fire after unprecedented fire. Record heat. Record droughts. Record ocean temperatures. Record hurricanes. The list goes on.

Take it at face value: our world is rapidly changing. How can indisputable headlines evoke such an array of reactions? How is it that so many show up to the polling stations and fail to vote for politicians who recognize the cocktail of environmental events that continue to rock our world are not random but instead a function of our changing climate, which at this point is indisputable; just ask anyone whose made a career studying the topic save for those backwards scientists who have sold themselves to big business and political agendas. Pick any top university or research institution, and you'll find common results: climate change is real.

It kills me to watch places I grew up enjoying burn to ashes. It kills me that species are disappearing 100-1000x faster than would be without humans impact on Earth. It kills me that the health of our planet and taking action to protect it is a partisan issue. Thankfully we have heroes on the front lines picking up our slack like these USFS firefighters we spent a few days photographing in eastern Oregon.

Thinking of everyone being impacted by the deadly fires back home in California, and all those working the front lines 🙏🏼

If I've learned anything from a decade of studying ecology it's that nature has no voice, no voting power or political sway. Nature's fate lies not in its surface value but rather in the hands of those it affects, transforms, excites and inspires.

Our midterm elections were bittersweet but along with the victories and groundswell of diversity injected into our political mainframe, we can’t lose sight of this simple truth, the reason why we have to keep showing up to the polls: we have the opportunity and privilege to vote, inspire change, and use our voices to speak on behalf of those who have no voice, ecosystems, communities, air, water and wildlife alike. Their well-being exists because we, society, deemed their fate and constitution too important to be swept away at the expense of progress at any cost.

This isn't a victory lap or a sigh of relief, but more a reminder that our voices and votes are often what lies between healthy ecosystems and the alternative: an increasingly sterile and homogenized world achieved through generations of blind progress.

The world isn't making any more wilderness or wild rivers, restoring species lost to extinction or revitalizing vibrant ecosystems degraded to faint glimmers. What we have left is all we will likely ever have.

Thanks to each and everyone of you who voted. @rachel.pohl and my future grandkids thank you too🌱

#bettertakesaction @keen

It wasn't long ago that California's rivers swelled with millions of wild salmon. Today, most if not all of that wildness has disappeared under the chopping block of progress at any cost. To be able to drift back in time to a place where salmon flood August rivers is perhaps my greatest inspiration. These wild rivers and the salmon that sustain them are not impervious or immune, and more than anything I hope my grandkids get to experience thriving wild salmon ecosystems.

Yet, even in the face widespread decline, wild salmon strongholds still exist around the Pacific. Out in a remote Alaskan bay I found what I had been dreaming of: waters swollen with salmon, a lone bear scouring the banks edge, puffins, murrelets and eagles racing by with fish on their mind. The world slowed to a crawl as my wife, @rachel.pohl , gently rowed through the rainforest with smiling eyes. It rained and rained and rained and we sat in the middle of the sea soaking it in.

She caught her first salmon on the end of a borrowed fishing pole , and we cooked dinner full of gratitude for these wild corners and the local community hell-bent on stewarding these places that have no voice.

What happens to our own humanity when we lose what’s wild? What happens when we’ve lost wild salmon for good?

The most important lesson we can learn from a wild Alaskan river brimming with salmon in 2018 is that there's still so much wildness worth fighting for. So many wild salmon are hanging in the balance. They need an inch from us so they can take a mile just to survive.

We have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, raise our voices and VOTE so that wild salmon may persist into the future.

On November 6, Alaskans will be voting on measures that may help save one of the world’s last great salmon strongholds we have left now under threat from a proposed pebble mine that could destroy one of the last best places on Earth, #bristolbay, which supports millions of salmon each year and countless families, plants and animals who rely on wild salmon.

Vote for our environment and Alaska’s wild salmon!

This is an excerpt from my @wildsalmoncenter story in @modernhuntsman Issue 2 (link in profile).

@rachel.pohl and I can’t wait to have kids. We are thinking two would be perfect - hopefully a boy and a girl. It’s been so fun watching some of our best friends raise little ones, see their first steps, and watch their eyes glow as each day, rich with firsts, shapes them incrementally.

Growing a family may be one of life’s greatest gifts. And the incredible truth about raising them in America is that we have the right and privilege to vote so that we can help shape the world they’ll be born into.

Take a glance across the globe and you’ll be reminded many are still fighting for the inalienable right so many take for granted. At last count, just shy of %50 of Americans chose not to vote. The silver lining: it’s not often such an impactful societal woe is so easily remedied. Get out and vote.

How can we live in a true democracy when only half the populous votes? How can we stomach the steady stream of news pouring across our field of view, and fail to see how much progress has yet to be made, how much there is to fight for? We can’t be complacent when we live in a country with so many politicians acting without the populous, public health and our natural environment in mind.

How can we bare to sit idly by while the rate at which our public lands become imperiled climbs, while the very ecosystems that sustain us are being attacked at unprecedented degrees of severity and magnitude, compromised and reduced to memories of clean air, water and abundant wildlife?

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the state of our country and planet, get out and vote. If you’ve ever felt that drive to make a difference, get out and vote. If you have a family and want them to live in a better world, get out and vote. If you want to have kids someday, get out and vote so they can grow up in a world you helped shape, one that you can be proud of.

The link in my profile will bring you to an awesome voter’s handbook put together by my friends @pow_action_fund .

It’s a great cheat sheet on some of the pressing issues, bills, and moral politicians working to make our planet a better place.

I caught this trout on a small mayfly two days after @rachel.pohl and I got married. It wasn't so much that the fishing was good or that we succeeded in taking off a few days to honeymoon and run around Southwest Montana + the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness looking for wildlife. That trout was special because I hooked it and Rachel netted it on the second day we were married - on the second day I could call her my wife! And that type of Throwback Thursday is never going to get old.

I'm excited to share some of these moments from a project with Sierra Nevada.

#EnjoyOutdoors @sierranevada

@modernhuntsman Issue 2 is shipping this week! With so much hard work and excitement around this group effort, I wanted to share a few excerpts from my "Ecologists Letter" which you'll find prefaces much of what we hope to address in the book, and personally, in my life's work. This is what I live for.

Mountains aren’t elk vending machines. Nor are rivers and wetlands duck factories. And those seas of grass and rolling plains are not where whitetail or mule deer are born simply to grow huge antlers, be pursued and hunted. These are ecosystems, complex, dynamic webs of relationships, ephemeral and deeply rooted. These systems create the wildlife we love when they are functioning, whole, stewarded and given an inch so wildlife can take a mile. The healthiest bulls, biggest bucks, tides of mallards and plumes of geese exist because wild landscapes exist, and because we’ve stewarded the ecosystem in such a way that these populations don’t just survive, but thrive. The difference between the two is vast, and cannot be understated. The healthier a population, the more resilient it becomes, and resiliency is the currency of stewardship; that’s what we’re after; that’s where we should set our sights.

Manage at the landscape level and place tremendous value on the soil, plants, water, fungi and bacteria. You see, without them, the nutritious grasses, flowers and browse that feed elk and deer, bighorn and pronghorn wouldn’t exist. And without these grazers, our apex predators who maintain healthy ecosystems wouldn’t exist. We need the bottom to have the top. It’s a system not a singular, unassociated, detached suite of species. We fit in there too. We are part of the ecosystem.

Take a close look and you’ll find our finger prints on every square inch of our planet. Removing humans from the equation is not realistic nor possible.

Without those willing to stand up for our public lands and shared resources, that axe will have its way. There’s too much at stake to sit back and wait for others to step in. This is your land and this is all you’ll ever have. There’s no public land factory creating more, only strong forces making less.

Raise your voice and #vote !

It all starts with the spring melt when the bloom arrives, and the high country opens. Soon, the first tide of sagebrush leaves emerge, supple and tender, green, not yet hardened by May's photic frontrunners. As the little photosynthetic factories kick into gear something amazing happens: light's captured, converted to sugar and directed to the collective of sage stems who conceal elk fawns on warm days and provide ample perches for the coming flocks of pinyon jays and mountain bluebirds who will preen and sing from their tallest branches.

I've been spending time with a few mentors, true woodsmen, who have all - in their unique recipe of words - explained that life's fleeting so hold onto it; bask in the present.

With October now well underway, I can't help but feel the urge to grasp onto fall a little longer, hold onto the yellow cottonwood lanterns now covering the creekbed beyond the bear trail some twenty feet from @rachel.pohl and my front door.

The memory of elk bugles and whitetail hooves on dry aspen leaves are unequivocally autumn, a slice of here and now when ditching work and obligations makes a ton of sense. Heading back into the treestand for another night of wildlife TV.

📸 @rachel.pohl

@keen #keenambassador

@rachel.pohl came to paint and watch light move across the mountains she grew up exploring.

With my spotting scope in hand and an old camping mat leaned into the buttress of a stately pine, I looked skyward. It was the start of our raptor migration that spans North America, binding forests in the far North to Central and South America beyond.

Sharp shinned hawks poured by first usually just a wingbeat ahead of the perturbed caws of resident Clark’s nutcrackers pulled away from their seasonal collection of pine nuts. It seems the deterrence of passing raptors is of greater concern than the harvest of seeds. •
It may be because a single nutcracker can collect tens of thousands of seeds in a year, which are then stored in batches of 100 or so, and transported in a specialized pouch beneath their tongue. A single pouch-full may be flown 20 miles away to one of their many cache sites where the industrious nutcracker will burry clusters of 4-5 seeds in the soil before moving on. A single bird may have 10,000 caching locations!

During peak pinecone season, one Clark’s nutcracker may cache up to 500 seeds per hour, which not only sustains them through the winter but also helps propagate future pine trees and the ecosystem they sustain.

At the end of the day, we trade stories of light and color, feathers and foraging amongst the pine cone littered understory.

These are among our best days.

Back in graduate school, many believed that when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone something simply magical happened: predation pressure or fear caused elk to spend less time grazing along creeks, willows and aspens rebounded, songbirds and butterflies returned in droves, waterways were stabilized as erosion subsided, beavers returned, their dams slowed and spread water creating wetlands, cutthroat moved into the wetlands for shelter and the habitat they offered. •
It was this incredible and simple story, one described as a trophic cascade, which in ecological terms can unfold when a top predator limits the density and / or behavior of their prey and thereby enhance survival of the next trophic level, resulting in a cascading effect that can restructure the food web.

However, in time, as science explored this purported dynamic further, the wolf story seemed more complicated. There was more at play. Many of those observations took place, but how and why? That remained to be fully understood. The narrative wasn't quite as liner as once thought.

Renowned Greater Yellowstone, and U.C. Berkeley ecologist, @arthurmiddleton , authored a 2014 Op-Ed in the @nytimes titled, “Is the Wolf a Real American Hero ?”, in which he outlined the unknowns and conflicting data that challenged the storybook Yellowstone wolf reintroduction, trophic cascade narrative, that made headlines worldwide.

I bring this up to share a simple reflection as it relates to science, recent conversations around the grizzly bear listing and court decision, wildlife ecology and resource management in general.

Science exists on a spectrum of confidence intervals ranging from: we are confident to a certain degree that we are asking the right questions and understand our data, the biases and unknowns, to: given the data, biases and unknowns that we can't account for, we must reassess our methods, approach and analysis.

Simply put, science is a study that leans on progress, not definitive answers that are true now and forever. Science is always advancing.

The reality is, minds can and will be changed as new data and compelling interpretations arise. It’s all about progress and perspective

The role of hunting as it relates to the federal court decision to return ESA listing status to Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzlies is complicated.

I believe this decision is not an attack on hunters, our right to hunt or even bear arms. If you read the judges decision, the policy and legal drivers for that decision, you'll see the judge determined the US Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to honor integral aspects of the ESA while making their decision, including but not limited to : the act is in the business of protecting the entire species, not populations.

Hunting pressure, if permitted, would have likely only influenced a subset of the bears in the GYE as only certain zones would be hunted. Furthermore, the bears that could be killed likely wouldn't be the bears that kill cattle or have a history of conflict with humans: many of those bears have already been killed or removed.

In 2018, 49 grizzly bears have been killed, 37 of which were due to human causes including vehicle strikes or targeted removal of problem bears. The other bears, one could deduce, generally have a tendency to avoid people and livestock given they are still living. Though, that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for conflict.

Grizzly bears will continue to cross paths with us as they expand their range connecting detached pieces of wild landscapes with the broader human dominated world.

Many seem to believe hunting 23 bears will transform our experience outdoors, make it safer by reducing the number of bears, and creating a shift in behavior that keeps bears further from people. With somewhere around 700 bears in the GYE, 22 may not make a huge impact in the near term. However, grizzly bears reproduce slowly and females mature around 4 years, so population fluctuations can happen quickly. And our planets environs are changing rapidly, which we need to account for.

There's no easy answer, but I do believe once the ESA listing is upheld, and that all existing populations of concern are recovered then states should, as the law outlines, have the right to make decisions on how their wildlife are managed.

Search: Grizzly Bear Interagency Study Team to learn more.

Millions of eagles, hawks, falcons, merlins, kites and harriers fly overhead every spring and fall. If you look closely, you'll find many of these great migrations fly right over some of our biggest cities and urban hubs. All you have to do is look up.

What a rich reminder that we still have wild landscapes and these epic migrations to fight for.

It's easy to look at headlines, read the recent UN report on climate change, or attempt to digest the rate of extinction on Earth, one that's snuffing out species 100 to 1000 times faster than would occur naturally - without the cost of humanity on the planet - and feel helpless, hopeless or defeated.

How can I, a single person, make this better? How can I make a difference, or even make an impact locally? Is it even possible?

If the making of our film, Sky Migrations, taught me, @max.lowe and @forestwoodward anything, I would say that we left that time in the field with @hawkwatch , following one of the planet's last great migrations, with a feeling of reverence for these incredible birds, for the seasoned, sun kissed scientists dedicating their lives to the study and stewardship of these birds, and with a galvanized understanding that a great groundswell exists, one that is working to reveres the tide of ecosystem collapse and species decline across the globe.

Inspiration, for me, lies in this simple truth: everyday, thousands of scientists and citizen scientists alike climb out of their bags and tents, fire up the camp stove, warm chilled hands, and head into the field to pour their heart, time and energy into the preservation of these wildlife and the wild spaces they rely on.

It's this blind, deeply rooted dedication to something bigger than ourselves that inspires me most about our experience making our Sky Migrations.

Check out the full film: link in profile. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Photo of a rehabilitated peregrine falcon at @montanaraptorcenter

Our film, Sky Migrations, presented by @rei , is an ode to wilderness, birds of prey and the community of dedicated scientists perched atop remote mountains studying one of the planet's greatest migrations, one that passes by overhead every spring and fall.

Two years ago @max.lowe , @forestwoodward and I hopped in my truck and headed South following the October tide of raptors through some of America's wildest and most remote swaths of public land.

We covered nearly 1,000 miles over highways, two tracks and trails that lead us to upslope where teams of @hawkwatch scientists had spent nearly three months studying this epic migration, and the current of birds overhead.

To sit atop these mountains, eye to eye with a river of raptors, was a transformative experience to say the least. As one of the field scientists said so perfectly, "looking into an eagles eye changes you.”

Migrations are these incredible events in nature that bind distant lands together. They exist because wild landscapes still exist, some that connect forests in the far reaches of North America to distant grasslands in South America. What an incredible reminder that we still have so much worth fighting for, so many wild corners that still need our voices to speak on their behalf.

The driving theme for our film, Sky Migrations, leans on the notion that while it takes a village to raise a child, it truly takes at least a hemisphere to raise a hawk.

This speaks to the vast network of stewards, scientists and conservation minded members of the public who dedicate their time and energy to the great groundswell intent on protecting these migrations of raptors and the landscapes that sustain them from Alaska to Argentina.

It has been an incredible journey, and I'm so proud to be sharing this film with you all, one that we worked so hard on over the past two years.

I hope you enjoy our film!

A huge thanks to our team + @iloweanker @sam.hedlund @sam_loweanker and those who made this project possible @dj_mtw @mountainhardwear @natgeo @huckberry @micah.mckay

Link in profile 🦅

📸 @forestwoodward

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