Monday, July 11, 2016

Reconciliation ecology for the St. Louis River?

Earlier today I drove past a field of corn. The plants weren't much more than knee high. That made it easy for me to notice the dozen or two sandhill cranes feeding in scattered flocks in the field. When we first moved into this area, more than twenty years ago, crane sightings were fewer and less frequent. I'm encouraged that there seem to be more to see almost every year. That's today's first of three bits of good news.

On Twitter this morning, I came across another piece of what I consider today's second bit of good news. I had not known there's field called reconciliation ecology, which "studies ways to encourage biodiversity in human-dominated ecosystems," but I do now, and it's not the same as restoration ecology or ecological resilience. Over the years, I've watched the planning and community development sectors become more sophisticated about the need for and benefits of mixed used developments as a means of creating neighborhoods and community (and getting people out of their cars). Nature doesn't seem interested in supporting monoculture and if we don't improve how we emulate nature (biomimicry) more often and in better ways, nature will do just fine without us. Meanwhile, since now more than half of humans live in urban areas, reconciliation ecology seems essential.

St. Louis River, reconciliation ecology?
St. Louis River, reconciliation ecology?
Photo by J. Harrington

A third bit of good news involves my recent discovery, thanks to Sheila Packa's blog [see sidebar], of the One River, Many Stories web site about the St. Louis River. How the state of Minnesota can reconcile allowing the proposed PolyMet NorthMet mine discharges to the St. Louis watershed, in light of the beneficial uses the river is slowly regaining after its past abuses, is a source of befuddlement to me. I wish every river in Minnesota received the kind of attention the St. Louis is getting. That's a goal we Minnesotans could, and should, work toward. I have my doubts about how well reconciliation ecology involving mining will work out. The track record is very poor to date.

I Hear a River thro’ the Valley Wander

By Trumbull Stickney

I hear a river thro’ the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under.

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