My biological field experience is what eventually led me to pick up a camera and use it as a tool for conservation and awareness. I was first attracted to the idea of creating National Geographic style images. You know, eye candy (for plant nerds). Grand, sweeping landscapes that sing of feelings of vastness and purity. Those classic photos oftentimes are thought to create a feeling of wilderness – a landscape untouched by humankind.
As I work more and more as a restoration ecologist, I have come to realize that the hand of humankind is critical in maintaining so many species and landscapes we might perfunctorily believe are “liberated” or protected from humans. It is our hands that help protect these places. And I’m not talking about raising fences and locking gates, I’m talking managing invasive plants, rewarding sensitive ranching practices, and leading hikes to get more people hooked on nature.
At the end of this post is a short film I created (yes, I know, I know nothing about video) about a consulting firm – Creekside Science who has worked to help maintain a healthy and resilient population of the Bay Checkerspot butterfly across the Peninsula and South Bay. [full disclosure – I also work at Creekside] These butterflies that were once thought to exist in many Bay Area locales, have been reduced to a few serpentine outcrops in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Dr. Stu Weiss has been working on making Bay checkerspots more visible for 30 years now. Thanks to him, people talk about butterflies too. Thanks Stu, you’re the best!