CONSERVATION ON A SMALLER SCALE
I often write about what our Conservation Committee is doing, the challenges we face in our efforts, and inevitably, the ongoing uphill battle of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Writing to you in this way keeps you apprised of our efforts and ongoing struggles. But it has occurred to me that my contributions here may be read as mere news and ongoing reports—elaborating the same problems, just in new locations. Same story, different day.
This time, I write to you with a question. What does conservation mean to you?
Currently, I reside in Fairfield, Maine. And while I shall forever work for the protection and conservation of the forests and watersheds of southern Oregon, living on the east coast has provided me with a new perspective of what conservation means to me. And I would like to share it with you.
Behind our small home is a wetland. It is not big, and it is bordered by other houses, a high school football field, and a small industrial park. Yet, here it sits in all of its wild beauty; sheltering nesting waterfowl in the spring, providing habitat for migrating bird species, and serving as a safe haven for a menagerie of species. Indeed, we have seen red fox, bobcat, and wild turkey stroll along its border at our property’s edge. And we are frequently entertained by a beaver, several muskrats, and snapping turtles that venture beyond the shelter of the cattails.
Upon realizing the abundance of diversity in our very backyard, we decided to leave a buffer between our lawn and the edge of the wetland. We let the weeds and wildflowers grow uninterrupted. And this summer we witnessed the most beautiful ecosystem of wild honeybees, bumble bees, dragonflies, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds—all of this in addition to a variety of wild bird species. We didn’t see this amazing display of a fully functioning ecosystem last summer as our yard was kept in “immaculate” shape by our landlord prior to us moving in. Now, it’s absolutely beautiful, the ecosystem services are abundant, and the wildness of this small oasis is nothing short of breathtaking to watch in motion.
This is conservation. It’s not just about protecting our public lands from extractive interests. It’s not just about working to change administrative policies to conserve resources and protect biodiversity. Conservation is about each of us recognizing that we can do something to positively shape the natural world around us. Whether it’s leaving the dandelions in our lawn, eliminating the use of pesticides and other chemicals, or leaving a portion of our land or rented property untouched entirely. These things matter to the smallest of creatures and in ways that we don’t often consider.
It all begins with stopping to look at, and listen to, the natural world around us. It’s about finding the beauty and energy in all life forms and marveling at their interconnectedness. Then, it’s about finding a way to be an integral part of that world—to do no harm, and to help wherever we can. This, to me, is conservation.
What does conservation mean to you? We want to know! And as always, we welcome new thoughts, ideas, and energy into our conservation endeavors here at Umpqua Watersheds.