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Beyond the Trees

Afognak island is home to a host of animals. Among them are the Roosevelt elk, 160 species of birds, wild salmon populations, and the largest species of bear, the Kodiak. Forest preservation efforts promise that critters like these will continue to thrive in an environment untainted by human hand. However, it is important to note that because of the vast interconnectedness of ecosystems, the positive effects extend past the well-publicized animals to all levels in the system. While these effects are far-reaching and positive, it is also true that disruptive human actions will create similar ripples that reach far beyond the well-publicized species. Illustrating this point is the tumultuous history of Gray Wolf populations within Yellowstone National Park.

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More Than Grassland

Although many people are aware of the economic and environmental value of grasslands, they may not be aware that grasslands are also important in an unexpected way: storing carbon. Grasses do a great job soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and through their root system, depositing the carbon into the soil. If the land is not tilled or developed, the carbon will stay there indefinitely. This process makes grasslands a “carbon sink.”

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