Thursday, January 26, 2017

Gloom, doom, degraded water quality and #phenology

Late last year, I read Kurt Fausch's For the Love of Rivers. It was an early Christmas present from the Better half. One of the fascinating things I learned is that "on average, fully a quarter of the annual energy needs (calories) for the ten species of birds that feed in the riparian forest were supplied by the small adult aquatic insects that emerged from Horonai Stream." [p. 63] Maybe one of you can bring this to the attention of Minnesota Audubon? The crossover between air and water, birds and fish, needs more engagement by local environmental organizations that too rarely talk to each other.

does Minnesota have too many trout streams?
does Minnesota have too many trout streams?
Photo by J. Harrington

Since the book was published fairly recently, it's not clear whether Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff took such factors into account when they proposed downgrading 101 stream reaches and their ability to support aquatic life (macroinvertebrates and fishes). (I suspect not.) If enough people (more than 25) don't request a public hearing, these resources will be lost, probably forever, and the waters to which they are tributary may remain forever degraded without due consideration and public input.

If you care about such things, follow this link and request that a public hearing on these, and related changes, be held. As Water Legacy notes in their suggest hearing request language "The Public Notice for the proposed TALU rules did not say that any water bodies would be downgraded if the rules were approved, let alone more than 100 waters. (SONAR, Attachment A)."

One of my concerns is that, as Minnesota's water quality classifications become more fragmented and complex (think proposed wild rice standards and classifications), the harder it becomes for the Agency to fund and assign adequate staff resources, the easier it becomes for industry to challenge a particular designation, and the harder it becomes for the public (think swimmers, anglers, families) to understand and affect these rules intended to protect our environment. It seems to me that's kind of like setting up something like a "Citizens United" for environmental protection rules.

As long as I'm back in an Eeyore mode, I noticed this announcement today:
Jan. 20 -25 has been the gloomiest since solar radiation records began at the St. Paul campus observatory at the U of MN in 1963.
That doesn't even begin to account for the events in Washington, D.C. It is easier to affect governmental events closer to home in Minnesota, at least on a good day. Click on this link and ask for the hearing. Agriculture and mining are attacking the quality of Minnesota's waters. Don't give them a free ride. Thanks. (Yes, I did fill out the form and send it off asking for a hearing.)

In Blackwater Woods


By Mary Oliver


Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.

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