The Paddler’s Planet by Christian Wagley
If we want to preserve our waters, and the wild and special places that we love, then we have to preserve the land. Because they are so visible to us we often focus on the tiny patches of land in our yards and neighborhoods. And we should make those spaces beautiful and healthy, but they are too small to drive conservation.
What really has to happen is to place large areas of land—thousands of acres at a time–into conservation as national and state parks and forests, as well as private nature preserves. These protected lands are very popular with Americans, who flock to these special places to hike, camp, hunt, fish, and generally enjoy the wildness that tugs at us from deep within our psyche. Humans have spent much more of our history living close to nature, and so we continue to have an innate affinity for it.
However, we also tend to have a hard time living in harmony with the natural world that’s immediately around us. The lights on our porch, the plants in our yards, our dogs and cats, the backyard bird feeder, and even the noise generated from our neighborhoods all disturbs the natural cycles and ways of the natural areas around us.
Where I live in northwest Florida our natural ecosystems depend on fire to recycle nutrients, encourage plants to flower, and to keep the more open landscape favored by animals like gopher tortoises and red-cockaded woodpeckers. These fires happened naturally for thousands of years as lightning bolts ignited the flammable plants, and low-intensity fires burned for weeks at a time over hundreds of thousands of acres.
Today, as homes plop down in the middle of these fire-dependent landscapes, the natural fires are extinguished–starving the land of the very force it needs to remain healthy. So when we look around we see land free of development that we believe is preserved. But without fire, the land and its diversity of plant and animal life die a slow death as it becomes a tangle of thick shrubs that is anything but natural.
Humans are also not very good at restoring what we’ve damaged, or deliberately creating new ecosystems–which actually is not surprising. After all, nature has been creating ecosystems for millions of years, while we’ve only been trying it for a few decades.
For all of these reasons, the benefits of preserving large land areas are incredible. Natural systems need space to ebb and flow, to burn and flood, to wander and explore. They cannot do this easily within and next to our backyards. When we preserve large land areas we can take a step back and allow nature to thrive at its highest level, which includes soaking-up rainfall and delivering purified water into our rivers and streams.
Nearly every U.S. state has a program that buys and preserves wildlands, allowing each of us an opportunity to support these programs and thus help ensure a sustainable future for both people and nature. Florida once had perhaps the nation’s best program, but it has been nearly eliminated by the State legislature over the past several years.
In this year’s election, Florida voters will be asked to support Amendment 1, which would establish a land preservation program in the State constitution. This would guarantee the program for 20 years and in a manner in which the whims of the legislators would have no impact. With as much as 7 million acres of Florida’s wilds forecast to be lost by 2060, my fellow residents have a golden opportunity to help preserve our future.
We must continue to love, respect, protect, and enhance our yards and our neighborhood parks. But we also must see the big picture, and work to save the large and beautiful lands that we love and that love us back with clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and space for human solace and recreation. Our very survival depends on it.
Standing Up for the Planet with Leslie Kolovich and Christian Wagley
Listen to the podcast now:
Today Christian Wagley joins me in the studio to discuss one of the very important Amendments on the Florida ballet November 4th. Floridians care about our lands, state parks, and water. Protecting them has been of great importance, in fact Florida had one of the best land and water conservation plans in the country until the last several years. We must stand up to bring back the protection for our land and water here in Florida. Florida Water and Land Conservation, Amendment #1 is a coalition of the conservation and civic organizations, businesses and concerned citizens who together succeeded in gathering nearly 1 million signatures from Florida voters and placing Amendment 1: the Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 2014 ballot. This amendment will ensure all of the cherished rivers, lakes, springs and our coastal waters are protected for generations to come. For more information on Amendment 1 visit the website at Voteyeson1fl.org Please share this information with as many as you can. Every Vote Counts!
Christian is here in South Walton as a guest speaker for the South Walton Community Council as part of their Public Forum Series this Thursday October 23, 2014 at 7pm at the Coastal Branch Library on Highway 331. He is presenting a pictorial journey called, “The Beaches Are Moving“. Christian is a wonderful speaker with so much knowledge on Florida environment, you won’t want to miss this!
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
This past weekend Sharon and I went to the Adams River Salmon Run near Scotch Creek in B.C. Canada. This is a Sockeye run, and this year’s Run is a bellweather Run for Salmon Stocks!
Salmon Runs have become a spectator sport in B. C. When we arrived we were corralled into a parking lot, along with several thousand other people that were there at the same time we were. I found out afterwards that organizers were expecting in the neighborhood of 60,000 people to visit the Adams River Salmon Run this year. 60,000 people!
After collecting $5 for parking, we were directed to our parking spot for the day. This was no small operation, rather more like a well-oiled machine! On the way in to our parking spot we couldn’t help but notice all the tents, food trailers, washrooms and people everywhere!
It took us a couple of hours driving time to get there from Kelowna, and both Sharon and I were hungry when we got there. We wandered the several food trailers and the very last one, run by local First Nations, was offering up Bannock and Salmon. Naturally I had to try it, and I have to say that was possibly the best Salmon Burger I have ever had!
With a belly full of Salmon, we headed thru the gates and down the path to the first fish viewing area along with several hundred of our closest friends. Holy People Batman! The pictures show a lot of people in a small space, however they don’t really capture the total amount of people that were there. It was like Vancouver at rush hour, not exactly what a person might expect from a “Nature Excursion”. There were Guides talking about Salmon, and Park Rangers at various places along the path working unsuccessfully to keep the masses away from sensitive Riparian banks. There were cameras, tourists, naturalists, parents, kids, young, old, dogs, all drawn to this place, at this time by the stars of the show, Sockeye Salmon!
The returning Salmon this year were from the 2010 run, a record year for Adams River with approximately 10 million fish returning from the 2006 Run. I talked to one family who travelled from very far for the 2010 Salmon Run, and were back again this year to see how the 2010 Salmon fared. Salmon return every four years to the place they were born to give birth and then die. Their journey is truly a marvel. In the case of Adams River, the returning fish make their way from the Pacific Ocean to the Adams River. Once they enter the river they stop eating and travel for as long as it takes to swim the 110 miles up to Shuswap Lake, where they will deposit the next generation of fish in egg form. The females return to the very place they were born, dig a hole in the gravel bottom, and lay their eggs, which are then fertilized by the males. Once fertilized, the males dig a hole just up river so that the fry can be covered. The female will stay with the fry for about 2 weeks to ensure they are not disturbed, then both the female and male will die approximately 2 weeks after that.
Salmon are a keynote species. Wildlife like Bear, Eagle and Wolf will feed on the smorgasbord that is presented to them with so many fish in one place at one time. Part of the carcasses will end up deeper in the forest after feeding, and will provide fertilizer to countless species of plants and trees. Without Salmon, the entire ecosystem out here in B.C. would be at risk.
Salmon populations appear to be declining, and there is reason for concern. Overfishing, fish farms, and loss of habitat, especially breeding grounds are cause for concern. When Sharon and I were at Adams River this year, the fish count stood at 3 and a half million, with a week or two left for additional fish to find their way home. Speculation about returning Salmon from 2010’s record Run are a big part of the reason so many people attended this year’s event. Salmon will lay approximately 4,000 eggs, and of these it is estimated that an average of 40 will survive to struggle for life, and only 2 will make it from their place of birth, to the Lake for a year while they grow and mature, to the Ocean where they live until their return after a four year life cycle. Under ideal conditions, salmon stocks are challenged in the survival department. When you factor in the human effect on Salmon, one can see it will not take too much to tip the scales in a direction that is not favorable for them.
I found myself leaving Adams River with a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand I was thrilled that there were so many people interested in seeing the Salmon Run, it’s encouraging to see interest in the Natural World. On the other hand I was shocked by some of the activity I saw there. There was little concern demonstrated by many for what can only be called a sensitive ecosystem. Riparian terrain (river banks) are sensitive to trampling due to the nature of the root systems of the many plants and trees that reside there. We witnessed several people breaking new trail to the river, some even ignoring clearly posted signs and fencing requesting people to stay off the banks. We witnessed children throwing rocks in the river where the Salmon they came to watch were attempting to lay eggs, with parents watching on. We picked up garbage along the trail, a sure sign of people presence. We also witnessed positives, like children asking questions and getting answers that actually disengaged them for a time from their electronic devices. We witnessed a sense of awe in many people about the incredible journey those Salmon have taken. I can only imagine how many pictures were taken, and where they might end up.
Oddly enough the thing that struck me most about our trip to Adams River was not the Salmon, as incredible as they are.
The thing that impacted me the most was the people. The mixed emotions left me feeling both positive and negative. Seeing the lengths that people went to just to get to Adams River was not dissimilar to the journey the Salmon took, as I mentioned earlier there were people there that flew from over both ponds to get there. There was genuine curiosity, which I always count as a positive. I was also left with a sense of sadness and emptiness that so many people appeared to know so little about Nature, and their Natural surroundings. It got me to thinking, “How will Nature survive our presence if we cannot connect to it”? “How can we educate a population who have become so citified that the importance of Nature to our very survival has been lost”?
Maybe Adams River is a step in the right direction!…
Standing Up for the Planet by Bob Purdy
How about we play a little game of “What If”?
What If a person could only have one car in a lifetime? With only one car to last a lifetime, would it change the way you look after it? Would it change the way you use it? What would your car look like at the end of a lifetime with you?
What If there were no weapons in the World, would we still have war? Would it make a difference if we had to look a person in the eye before taking their life? Would the entire video gaming industry fold? Without the expense and energy of building weapons, what would we create instead?
What If our political leaders and decision makers were not allowed any sponsors? What If our political leaders and decision makers were elected for longer terms and required to make decisions taking into consideration the effect of those decisions on future generations? Would we see “Change” or would we find a way to gravitate back to the status quo?
What If corporations were scrapped? Without faceless, self-interested companies whose only concern is profit, would our consumption be any different? If corporations were scrapped, would that end planned obsolescence? Would “Service” become a word in the dictionary again?
What if the concept of liability disappeared? Would the entire legal profession disappear with it? Would responsibility step in and take up the void?
What If house building was limited to 500 sq. ft. per person? Would there be more forest in the World?
What If we had never figured how to smoke tobacco, or make alcohol and drugs, or soda? What other creative ways would we find to harm ourselves, numb ourselves? If we didn’t abuse ourselves, would we still abuse others?
What If Pigs really could fly? Would we still eat bacon?
What If we had to deposit all our garbage and waste in our own back yards? Would single use products, like plastic bottles, survive in that World? Would all of our homes be dumps, or would we find another way?
What If there were no doctors or pharmaceuticals in the World? How would we stay healthy? Would we still need hospitals for sick care?
What If tv’s, computers, and cell phones had not been invented? What would our communities look like? Would we know how to be real with one another without reality shows? How would we learn? Would coffee shops survive?
What If man’s best friend was a Cat? Or a Racoon? Or a Flamingo? Or a Whale? Or a Chicken? Or a Palm Tree? Or a Sea Cucumber? Would Dogs turn against man? Does anything, or anyone in the Natural World consider man as their best friend?
What If you only got one body to last a lifetime? What If we all got just one Planet to live on? Wait a minute, isn’t that what we have?
What If we could go back in time and change one thing, what would that be? Is it too late to change that one thing today?
What If where we go when we die is back to Planet Earth? Would we take better care of Mother Earth in this lifetime? What if we were sent back to the worst thing we did while we were here, and had to start our lives from that point forward? Would it make any difference to how we live this life?
Is it really possible to write an entire blog of nothing but questions? Would that blog have any kind of real meaning, or would it all be just a bunch of nonsense?