Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Water action ethics #CleanWaterWednesday

Have you noticed that Native Americans are in the news, or social media, or both, these days as they work to protect the natural resources on which we all depend? A little to our West, there's the demonstration against the Dakota Access pipeline. [UPDATE: the protectors' perspective] (Based on what contractors for the same pipeline are doing to Iowa farmers, prevention seems the best way to protect what's left of our environment.) In Minnesota, our state administration, through the Department of Natural Resources, has recently reversed its extension of the "catch-and-release" walleye season on Mille Lacs, largely due to concerns expressed by Minnesota and Wisconsin Ojibwe bands.

Lake Mille Lacs with a "walleye chop"
Lake Mille Lacs with a "walleye chop"
Photo by J. Harrington

I don't doubt that some leaders in the Dayton administration have heard of the precautionary principle. I often wonder if they try to follow it. Short-term economics can't continue to prevail over protecting the resource on which the economics are based. I equally wonder how political leadership could reconcile a "science-based" solution without reflecting the concerns of resource co-managers while simultaneously promoting the protection of Minnesota's water resources through a "water ethic" that we all adopt. Ethics are (common) value based at least as much as, if not more than, science based.

North Shore, Lake Superior
North Shore, Lake Superior
Photo by J. Harrington

Water is a renewable resource, not a limitless one. Protecting and managing a commons such as water, to be ethical, should be based on shared sacrifice as well as shared benefit and the fundamental value of the resource. I'll be more encouraged about the long-term prospect of success for a water ethic taking hold in Minnesotans when and if I see political leaders and resource management agencies reaching out to and working with all the stakeholders before a management decision is announced. I was pleasantly surprised shocked and amazed to see growing acknowledgement by some Iowans that "business as usual" won't solve their (agricultural) water quality problems. It helps me believe there's hope for Minnesota. To protect water, its use must reflect its value to us and the rest of life on this planet.

  • Through yesterday, ruby-throated hummingbirds continued to arrive at the nectar feeder. None noticed yet so far today.

  • Several turkey hens, plus their flocks of poults, the most seen so far this year, wandered through the yard mid-afternoon, leaving me feeling better about the wild world at large. We've become used to seeing a handful of flocks and, until yesterday, had seen only a couple.

  • Yet another chipmunk late this morning headed for the sunflower feeder scraps. Since the Better Half's part border collie is fascinated, and frustrated, by these little critters that run away and climb trees, rather than let him herd them, I'll leave the have-a-hart in the garage for now.

 The River.

By Raymond Carver

I waded, deepening, into the dark water.
Evening, and the push
and swirl of the river as it closed
around my legs and held on.
Young grilse broke water.
Parr darted one way, smolt another.
Gravel turned under my boots as I edged out.
Watched by the furious eyes of king salmon.
Their immense heads turned slowly,
eyes burning with fury, as they hung
in the deep current.
They were there. I fel them there,
and my skin prickled. But
there was something else.
I braced with the wind on my neck.
Felt the hair rise
as something touched my boot.
Grew afraid at what I couldn't see.
Then of everything that filled my eyes—
that other shore heavy with branches,
the dark lip of the mountain range behind.
And this river that had suddenly
grown black and swift.
I drew breath and cast anyway.
Prayed nothing would strike. 

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