Conservation is in Our Nature
Glenn's Muse - June 18
The news is filled with stories about drought, and the Columbia River was just named one of America’s most threatened rivers. Demographers project millions more people moving to the Northwest in the next 25 years, adding to the pressures on our natural resources. It would be easy to descend into pessimism about the future.
And yet here in the Northwest we have a history, originating in native cultures and extending to today, of understanding the value of nature. Northwesterners care about clean air and water, recreation opportunities, and scenic vistas. We know that our very nature is linked to the outdoors. And nature serves us well, providing an infrastructure that is vital to our way of life.
For example, anyone who has walked in a Northwest forest knows that moss covers everything. Moss holds large amounts of water in storage following a rain, preventing erosion, and later releases water to provide stream flows and to support life. Soaked moss in a large forest can contribute to atmospheric moisture, leading to rain. And moss cleans the air, extracting all of its nutrients from the atmosphere (it doesn’t have roots, after all). We humans have yet to come anywhere close to developing technology that provides all of these critical services.
Many solutions to our existing challenges and coming growth are around us today if we can only develop new ways of conserving our resources.
In the last 25 years, thousands of Northwest landowners have entered into voluntary conservation plans or improved their local habitats through voluntary backyard habitat certification programs. As a result, hundreds of square miles of the Northwest’s great places have been set aside for all time. People across the political spectrum are rallying together around our shared love for the Northwest.
Yes, we face threats. In response, let’s do what comes naturally. Let’s pour our energy into positive and wise actions that maintain the integrity of our lands. Let’s be sure not to diminish the infrastructure that provides us with benefits we could never re-create as efficiently or affordably.
If we start by acknowledging and growing our common love for the nature of the Northwest, then we will succeed in conserving our very nature.