November is such a transitional month in California. I personally feel that this month truly and confidently brings in the winds of fall and winter, as steam rises perceptibly from clenched coffee mugs while waiting for a chilly engine to warm or a bus to come pick you up. This is a month of dramatic change.
With that I’m writing a short post wherein my calendar for the month is a) in black and white and b) opens up the question of the footprint of green technologies on our landscape. Winds of change… hmm. I have a special treat in store as I’m excited to be meeting The Great Texas Wind Rush author Kate Galbraith this weekend to discuss her new book. I guess Texas blows – she’ll be talking about that. Now I’d better get back to that book I should be reading!
A coworker and friend, Jimmy Quenelle, recording wind speeds at Land’s End.
With bittersweet timing, the government has closed its doors on Yosemite’s “birthday” as a national park (which should rightfully be called Ahwahneechee National Park had a historian been involved in determining the proper name of the local native peoples who lived here). This is a place very dear to my heart. A place where we as a family can experience excitement, being humble, and being alive.
The act of designating national parks and protected areas is arguably one of the greatest accomplishments of the US government. That said, these areas do need regular funding to maintain safe access, steward important resources, and provide user experiences that will increase ones interest in the park, its resources, and history. Staff and volunteers are an essential element of any park – whether you see them or not. Continue reading →
This seasons Rim Fire of the Sierra Nevada has been an extremely destructive wildfire. Now determined to be California’s 3rd largest fire in history, the burn envelop now extends some 237,000 acres (as of Sept 6) which equates to roughly 370 square miles. To put this into perspective – this would have burned more than 7 San Franciscos. Notwithstanding the extent, Cal Fire and other crews have done a phenomenal job protecting life and property. Somehow, only 11 homes have burned and there are no reported fatalities. We owe the men and women on the front line a huge thanks and maybe a hug wouldn’t hurt either.
Barely one of every 20 rivers found in the Northeast run to the ocean without an artificial dam altering flow patterns. Damming rivers was historically a profitable venture that allowed for control of nature and power generation. Now, many of these structures stand like tombstones. They represent a time when wild rivers were plenty and people were few. We are beyond that point and a greater economic and environmental good is actually derived from liberating these rivers.
Yes, you read that right. One of the most iconic, magical places on earth will only be accessible by trespass. This is what we call Fortress Conservation in the ecology field: buy the land – then put a fence around it to limit human interaction.
Erecting fences is a short-sighted, privilege-driven way of doing conservation. It’s not a way to promote conservation, it’s the way to kill it.
While waking transects and looking for rare plants in the dusty Mojave Desert of 2013, I had much time to consider vastness, appropriateness and tenacity. Notably, it was hot, dry, and teetering on spiritual (which isn’t always a good thing when rattlesnakes abound).
The desert is nothing if it is not tenacious. It is an acerbic beast even in it’s kindest moments. Blowing sand, regular temperatures in the hundreds from April through October (in the sun that is). Humbling, and even bending or distorting the idea of life just a bit, since the desert’s signature is withering brown plant skeletons, dry playas and spines. Dessication, opportunity and impermanence are its soul. It is a tribute to both eternal things and the ephemeral. Within that sea, there are pauses of vibrance and life.
April Fools Day is over and traveling thru (a small part) of Tejon Ranch was a great way to spend it. The Tejon area was flush with extensive swaths of fiddleneck (Amsinckia eastwoodiae) coloring the hills orange. Truly, this may be the best display of fiddleneck I’ve ever seen.
Restoration is a favorite activity of mine. There’s an intrinsic healing that happens within oneself when your hands get dirty, plants comes to life, caterpillars become butterflies, and you generally work as a hand that protects and celebrates nature. It’s kind of like gardening, but way cooler!
In this month, my field work has ramped up and there are lots of amazing flowers and creatures that have come to enjoy their rebirth in spring. This desktop calendar celebrates an almost 30 year effort to understand and save one species in particular, the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly.
Here’s my desktop calendar March – free for all who want to use it as such. I wanted to celebrate the work of Dr. Stuart Weiss (see this wacky character, mentor, revolutionary above) and his associates (okay, fine, I’m one of them) in restoring habitat before a species becomes extinct. More info about the Creekside Center for Earth Observation here. Click on the photo, then right click and save the image, or see the link below.
My February calendar download pays tribute to a wonderfully, snowy lodgepole pine stand. I warn you, it’s abstract. In that, I think this sweeping long exposure provides a lot of ecological information on the stand. From this abstract you get a sense of openness and light in the forest stand – this has shown to decrease pine bark beetle invasion and help maintain larger trees for longer. Yes, this is reason to go hug your favorite forester.
The openings, the hand of humankind in its management have created the rhythm of our lodgepoles.
This photo hails from a lodgepole stand in Whitefish, Montana.