Monday, August 31, 2015

On the Importance of High-Altitude Bogs

This is kinda a continuation of Saturday's post on A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.  This is adapted from an email that I just sent to my brother out on the left coast.

Along these lines of the importance of things wild and free, I am reminded of a thought I had waaaaay back in college in the early 70s when I was young and idealistic, and had just for the first time read the ecological classic A Sand County Almanac (Aldo Leopold). The bride and I had been backpacking at Otter Creek WV, northeast of Elkins, WV. Otter Creek, which has since been granted wilderness status, is a pristine watershed about 5 x 12 miles, and empties into a fork of the Cheat River a short way downriver from Blackwater Falls. 

[Gary's note: I was trying to insert an Otter Creek image here but the Blogger 
software seems to be hosed at the moment.  Click here to see some cool photos!]

Anyway, by around 1920, the entire state had been logged, including Otter Creek. But the old logging railroad grades still remain and are perfect for hiking even today. We had hiked one of the old grades up to a "hanging valley" within the watershed, wherein are found several high altitude bogs. These bogs contain more boreal plants and animals, ecological islands if you will, left behind when the last glacier retreated. 

In pondering the screwed up state of the world at that time (which, unfortunately, has not improved), I distinctly remember then having and writing down the thought, something like "If more people truly understood the significance of high altitude bogs, we would have no more wars."

I still kinda believe that today. If, say, the U.S. neocons who gave us the Iraq war, or ISIS, or the Boko Haram kidnappers in Nigeria, knew about and truly realized what gem this planet is--as exemplified by the small treasures of high altitude bogs--voila!  No more wars. 

The return of gray wolves to CA is another such treasure. And one that if fully understood in the context of a stressed and overpopulated Earth, should halt all of us in our destructive tracks and unite us in a full court press to literally and figuratively swap our swords for plowshares and stop our planet-destroying madness. 

These wolves and high altitude bogs should be sufficient wake up call, were we only to listen.  So that's why I still need to believe in the importance of high altitude bogs...and wolves. 

I'm sure that's more than you bargained for but we all need a bit of naive idealism, don't we?  We get it, and are wondering why the rest of the world doesn't.

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