Another solid read.
Ostensibly we walk to fish, but really, we move at the urging of men long since past—of John Burroughs and John Muir, of Loren Eiseley—and of my parents, Norman and Paula, who are alive today but live far from this Kenyan valley. Walk in the woods, their voices advise, along the banks of a river where, in the blue end of a day well spent, you may find the rhythms that elude you. There, among the fish and the flowers and the forces that bind them, you might make peace with your worried mind.
New conservation initiatives for the lower Mississippi Valley.
We’ve forgotten what the Delta was before The Blues. Sluggish rivers feeding tremendous trees. Cherrybark and willow oak which fattened flocks of waterfowl headed south and rotted cavities for ivory-billed woodpeckers. Cypress trees whose seeds fed Carolina parakeets with bass panfish, gar and bowfin, amphuimas and sirens slithering among their knees. Panthers, otters, beaver, bear, swamp rabbits, and who knows what else used the ridges and spits of land to propagate their species for untold eons.
The ecosystem died for the sake of progress. In one of the continent’s largest reclamation projects the swamps were ditched and drained, and entire rivers re-routed to maximize production of rice, wheat, soybeans, cotton, corn, and sorghum. Spots too wet for rowcrops spring up in cottonwood and sweetgum on twenty year rotations to be chipped into paper and fermented into wood alcohol. Ivory-billed woodpeckers are gone. Carolina parakeets are gone. And a whole host of species are on their way out.
Which is why I’m glad to see cooperative efforts between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NGOs to repair some of the damage, to provide some opportunity for native species to recolonize their former range. These groups have a track record of improving fish and wildlife habitat- let’s hope that continues.
the pristine Jamaica of James Bond’s creator is in danger. Overfishing has imperiled the barracuda’s habitat: Fewer algae-eating fish spurs coral die-off, and the practice of fishing with dynamite has had catastrophic effects. But over the past seven years, a former record company executive has slowly built a network of conservationists to help protect the ecosystem near Fleming’s home, dubbed Goldeneye, creating a template for others in the process.
You learn about knots and water flow and snowmelt and follow the mating habits of bugs like they’re Kardashians — and how climate change means bark beetles are surviving the warming winters, killing off unprecedented acres of Ponderosa pines across the West. Ponderosa pines smell like vanilla cake. Not just vanilla and not just cake, but vanilla cake. I love knowing that, and I love knowing that you practically have to hug them to smell it. But every year I go back to Montana, I see more dying off and know the world is changing and it makes me sad.