Category: Environmental Issues

December 1, 2016 / by admin / Environmental Issues, Wilderness / No Comments

Let’s Just Bathe in the Stuff Shall We?

Will we ever escape the legacy of responsibility for environmental disasters while mixing the very fabric of our societies built-up existence on oiled waters? From the barrels that drain into our waterways on every parking lot across America, to the

Gulfs greasy sheen, we are intertwined with oil as closely as a newly encoded part of our DNA.  We are unwittingly using this dependence on oil to mainline our very veins in a mad rush towards  “De-evolution”. This is truly a sad chapter for so-called humanity and the rich biological diversity of the Gulf Coast States.

The current oil slicks are headed to a region far superior in biodiversity than that of  Prince William Sound, ground zero of the countries worst oil spill. The timing of this catastrophe could not be worse, as spring migrants all along the gulf coast’ s land sea and fresh water are returning to rear the next generation of sea turtles, whales,

shrimp, oysters and lest not forget hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and amphibians. We Americans are all connected and reliant on this complicated web of life. A planetary bio-nursery drowned under a geyser of suffocating toxins which will poison life in all its forms for seemingly time immemorial.

Beyond human comprehension I say. That is where this disaster is going to take us, which will in all likelihood include oil soaked beaches on European shores, thanks to the Gulf Stream.  And deservedly so, as we all share in the burdens of reliance on oil.  God Damn the Human Race.

Oil Spill in Gulf
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November 30, 2016 / by admin / Environmental Issues, Wilderness / No Comments

Welcome Wilderness Travelers and Explorers!

This is the start of a new journey for me, I hope you will drop by from time to time to read my blog. The following essay begins to explain where I hope this venture takes me:

From the very moment years ago when I read my first issues of Orion I grew to realize that those pages held the apex of modern expression in trying to explain and explore  the connections we all have to our home place and the wider earth.  So out of this inspiration I have since struggled to explore my personal sense of connection to place. Meaning I came to the realization that just to be outside and in the moment, inspired by witnessing natures mysteries was not enough, to find deeper meaning I would have to begin a different kind of journey. Many grand events or struggles in nature are only deemed awe inspiring if they are witnessed by man, kind of like “if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound…” , therefor my inspiring natural experiences were not real or were not connected to me unless I found a way to “save” them from being lost to the seasons of memory.

Time and again I have come upon an epiphany triggered only through the process of traveling across a wild landscape. The possibilities for expression of thoughts and knowledge opened to me by experiencing the simplest of natural events are vast. I once had a goal to learn the names of every form of flora and fauna I encountered in my journeys across Idaho’s wilderness. But this pales in comparison to the meaning within those creatures and how they relate to each other and myself. And this meaning changes every day! This is astounding to me and I want others to be astounded and hopefully inspired to protect their special place of wonder as well.

Time spent in wilderness has taught me to appreciate a tiny insect as it drinks from a raindrop perched on a leaf and wonder of its body is nourished or harmed by the waters invisible molecules. However in writing about such experiences I hope to uncover and understand the wider ripple effects of this tiny yet vastly interconnected interaction of species. i.e.. Does this raindrop likely carry a harmful witches brew of chemicals from some smelter a continent away? For me, the essence of expressing these witnessed connections and all they bring to bear on the minds eye are best nourished by engaging with other like minded explorers. I want not only to improve my skills as a writer, but to learn what and how others perceive natures mysteries and gifts. Hopefully in doing so my growth as a writer and human being will transfer into becoming a more eloquent advocate for the natural world. I can think of no other setting to better my skills as a writer, thus expanding my creativity and sharpening my resolve to share in this wonderful experience. This BLOG is for my growth and hopefully a sharpening of knowledge and understanding for those in touch with the wider wildness outside, both near and far. So remember these famous words and I hope you will get out more often.

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. – from John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1938, republished 1979, page 439.

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November 30, 2016 / by admin / Environmental Issues, Trips, Wilderness / No Comments

In Need of an Umbrella

Heart racing and with palpable thumping in my chest my quickened pulse, breaths and wide straining eyes all coax me forward into the grandest forest lands I have ever beheld. Pouring down upon my swiveling head was rain akin to being in the flow of a river. My ears strained for sounds of impending danger through this pounding watery symphony. What was that?  The whoof of an angry bear, was that a limb snap, no just my imagination tweaking on adrenaline. The energy of this wild green density of life was now coursing through my every fiber.

This is how I began my rain drenched hike into grizzly habitat of NW Montana’s Yaak (Kootenai for straight arrow) country. I had been warned not to venture into these lush old growth drainage’s, home to a remnant population of the often maligned apex predator of wild North America. A predator who’s very presence is an overarching indicator that the habitat in which it relies, is an intact functioning ecosystem. As an umbrella species Grizzlies are helping biologists select the locations of potential wildland reserves. Thus determining the minimum size, variety of species and processes needed to sustain the ecosystems myriad species interactions under which the bear relies.

As much as anything else I wanted to experience this forest on its own terms, the waters, the scents, the colors and yes the bears terms. I fully understood the reasoning behind these warnings.  Setting  aside for a moment my safety I did not want to experience the canned Yellowstone Grizzly version of wilderness. Where practically every bear in the park is cordoned off from public contact. Instead I wanted a visceral close quarters experience with untamed wild country.  And for that the Yaak country has much more to offer than just bears. Since the end of the Pleistocene this dripping with life landscape has held practically every piece of genetic variety that has ever lived on the continent.

But it is in dire need of help from destructive human encroachments, apathy, and yes our rapidly out of control phenom we quaintly call Climate Change.  To this predicament, in steps the Yaak Valley Forest Council.  The YVFC is a small group of hard working and dedicated advocates with an end goal to get wilderness designation for as much of this prehistoric landscape as possible. The wilderness plan also entails creating a new economy for the local people that will allow them to “stay in the woods” working small logging operations. The wilderness bill holds language that details methods for business models to produce wood products to be sold by local business people. By not selling the raw timber to outside industries the “cut” can be put back into the community via finished products and jobs. Hopefully this “local greening” method will grow an economy with an end point attitude to care for the land and all its wild constituents. If it works the bears win and the people win.

To make a long story short this is why I was warned to stay out of the core Griz habitat. If I was injured or killed the negative (me being an outsider) connotations and political atmosphere would make the YVFC’s job to protect the Yaak’s grizzlies and the cornucopia of genetic wealth that live under this umbrella species more complicated.

As I proceeded down the long closed logging road it narrowed into a cushiony moss covered trail. The forest closed in upon me like a dark green wet canopy. Adding to the din of the downpour was the raging torrent named Burnt creek which further numbed my ability to sense the sounds of an approaching bear. One good thing in my favor, (or the bears favor I’m not sure) was that I was walking downwind and sweating heavily under the rain gear. I kept a slow but steady pace slightly content that my scent would be carried far out ahead of my soggy boot steps. Eventually progress found myself pushing through walls of dripping, face slashing Alders, Maples and Water Birch. Oddly amongst this crowd of plants my apprehension of violent attack began to wane.  All the while I had been alert to sight, smell and sounds of bear but had yet to come across any fresh sign. No bear tracks, no scat or claw ravaged logs did I come across. I know this means little given the distance a bear can travel on a whim.  This lack of fresh bear sign allowed me to take-in the other major goal of this excursion. How lucky to be here breathing into my pores this treasure of a living forest. I wanted to briefly grasp the essence of this working ecosystem and was awakened by my internally perceived danger of encountering a close quarters bear. The word ecosystem seems like trivial dribble and wholly inadequate in describing the myriad fervor of life that flourishes in the Yaak. The risks are well worth the rewards of traveling in wild country.

I am no forest ecologist mind you, but any visitor whether they be experienced biophile or urban nyctohylophobic can clearly see, smell, touch and hear the true uniqueness in this landscape of ancient hills, waters and life called The Yaak. The Grizzly is the supreme indicator of an intact healthy working biome.  Possibly no other place on the continent is in more dire risk of loosing this trophic cascade of life. My time here has convinced me that these last intact drainages are worth wilderness designation. Though this human life is short, our legacies can be long and for all creatures The Yaak is worth saving. Wether on foot or by the written page I encourage all to explore and protect a place that touches you. You see The Yaak’s (including any number of wild places in your own backyards) dwindling assemblage of life deserves to pulse on immemorial. Change has always been seeded by the dedicated passion of individuals, not by large interests.  So, find a special wild place near to you, breath it in deep, get to know it, be it rainy forest or sunny desert and having gone out to experience the wild you will have discovered you actually have gone within.

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