Cleaning out the Inbox: V.

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.

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