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Airdate: Oct 12, 2017
Scientist: James Fraser

When Nature Takes Charge

When Nature Takes Charge
In wildlife preserves, should we allow nature to "take its course"?

Transcript:
When Nature Takes Charge

Ambience: Ocean
Metzner: Should we manage nature preserves for wildlife or for humans? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. We're on Fire Island on the shore shore of Long Island, New York, with Jim Fraser, a professor of wildlife conservation.

Frasier: We're at a place called Old Inlet, and up until Hurricane Sandy, there was no inlet here. With Hurricane Sandy, now there's a new inlet at Old Inlet, about 50 meters wide.

Metzner: Jim Fraser says the hurricane and the inlet have created conditions beneficial to local species, including shorebirds.

Frasier: One of the reasons we wanted to come up and study piping plovers after Hurricane Sandy was because of this inlet. And what's happened you see there's a lot of sand right here on this side of the inlet that was laid down, by tides since the hurricane. These bits of sand out there; those will be great for piping plovers and other shorebirds to find food.

Frasier: So an inlet is just a a hole in the island, that allows water to go in and out. Inlets move. This inlet, if left to its own devices, will migrate. It'll move to the west. Now, people aren't used to things that move. They like their houses to stay in one place; they like the roads to stay in one place, and they like their inlets to stay in one place. And so, they spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to keep their inlets in one place so they can not have houses that are on these islands washed away as inlets move south.

Frasier: Nobody's going to suggest that we should allow communities to wash away , but I think what we need to do is to find a few and and allow those to to stay in a natural state. The wilderness area on Fire Island is one area, and yet we're talking about filling up that inlet the only natural inlet in New York. And really, I would've thought the county parks would be a place where there could've been some management for wildlife, because people of Suffolk County enjoy wildlife as well as people in other places.

Metzner: Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech: inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.