Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Thinking Rock

Due to the series of snowy spring storms that have kept rolling into the Black Hills over the past two weeks, I've found it hard to write about anything botanical.  So instead, this morning I made a visit to the thinking rock in an effort to find inspiration.

The thinking rock is in our pasture.  My husband dubbed it that when we were in the process of building our house and moving to the Hills from Oregon. He spent many hours there during the construction of our house thinking, worrying, and wondering about the future.

The thinking rock juts out of the lowland sedge pasture and has a small Ponderosa pine growing from a crack in the flat topped, table sized boulder.  The pine tree on the rock is small in size, likely aged, and of course, very wise.

However, the little tree didn't look too happy today, instead it looked sort of forlorn and lonely.

The Thinking Rock

My thought for the day:

I've often heard it stated that, "Trees are our most important (valuable) resource."  I agree with the fact they are important, but in defense of the other botanical resources that feed and clothe us, I can't say that trees are most important.  Anyone who disagrees with me should climb up a tree like a porcupine, and chew on some bark!

Don't you think the tree on the thinking rock looks happier in a more diverse setting?

We have the opportunity to be stewards of such a wide array of botanical resources.  It might not pay to get too wrapped up in identifying one as more important than others. Everything in our world is interconnected, so we should pay due respect to all.

By now you're probably wondering what the purpose of this blog is?  In the future, I plan to feature some really cool plants and habitats, how they interact with the living and breathing creatures on earth, and how each benefits from the other.

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by.  Hope to see you back again soon!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trees & Beetles & Fuels.... Oh My!

I live in a small subdivision in the Southern Black Hills of South Dakota.  Our subdivision, Silver Star I & II, realized in the early part of the decade that we were vulnerable to losing everything to wildfire.  As a result, we have worked very hard to be Firewise  in our way of life.  Silver Star became a nationally recognized Firewise Community in early 2005. 

The Black Hills (along with many other western forests) are currently experiencing a mountain pine beetle outbreak of epic proportions.  As a result, the community of Custer has responded with numerous "Bark Beetle Blues" events throughout the year.

A couple of days ago, I participated in a forum called A Landowner Conversation: Beetles, Fuels, and Forestry that was sponsored by Custer County Conservation District.  As chairman of the Silver Star Firewise Board, the SCD  asked  me to put together a history of our Firewise project along with information on how the beetle outbreak has impacted us.  I put together the following video and have been encouraged  to share it.  I'm really proud of what our neighborhood has accomplished in the last 8 years.  What a small but mighty group!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Is There Really Such a Thing As a Moderate Botanist?

In the current, deeply divided political climate it seems that people can easily be assigned to one of two major camps just because of what they do for a living.  Botanists, archaeologists, and wildlife biologists tend to get thrown into the wacko-liberal-terrorist-camp (a.k.a. blockers), while other natural resource professionals such as foresters, range cons, geologists, loggers, miners and others who make their livings from resource extraction are the sane, level-headed stewards of the land.  However, after a career in natural resource management I can attest that there are plenty of moderate botanists, archaeologists, and wildlife biologists in the world.  I am one of them. 

Having spent more of my career administering grazing permits than counting posies has made me a staunch advocate for wise and sustainable uses of the land.  In other words, we have to use the resources to exist as a species, so we can't take the hands-off protective approach that true environmentalists demand.  However, we also can't continue to take everything that the land is generous enough to offer and continue to give nothing back.  Through the years I've witnessed that both approaches are detrimental for both the real estate  the human condition. 

Instead of wasting anymore time with the "blame game" and pointing fingers at those who view things through a different lens, why don't the extremists at both ends of the spectrum figure out a compromise that they can live with?  They won't have to give up  all, or perhaps any, of their values in the process.  Also, don't forget that the other 99% and future generations are going to have to live with it too.  The problem is just too complex for any simple solution.  Nothing black and white about it, just gray.

So here is my message to all the screaming liberals and confirmed conservatives: You're not only controlling the lives of moderates, but boring us stiff too!  Get your acts together before it's too late!