By Berni Olson
March 3, 2020
About a month ago I saw the movie Beaver Believers. Great movie if you have the opportunity to see it. As I was leaving the thought occurred to me that so much of our environment is now managed. The movie showed how beavers had to be relocated if they were in the “wrong” area or creating dams in the wrong places or damming up areas that would interfere with us humans. There was one woman who rescued beavers and it was amazing how she would take those beavers in her arms and love on them.
Last week at our county park, we installed five Bluebird boxes. Again I thought about how we now manage Bluebirds- we build them boxes, make sure snakes, raccoons and house sparrow don’t mess with them, check in with them once a week and provide cleaning services after the babes have fledged. The Bluebirds are counted and watched and well managed. We’ve managed them so well they are now thriving which leads me to another point that I will make just briefly- I think it’s time to move onto another species that needs to be managed and helped to thrive. I believe the Loggerhead Shrike could use our help.
Also at our lovely county park, two pollinator gardens have been installed. Again, the word manage comes to mind as we park volunteers discuss when and if we should “clean-up” last year’s dead materials or if we should leave the gardens alone. The discussion continues on as to if we should maybe even leave it half and half to see what would happen. A large plan of the entire park has been created- of how we want it to look. Overall it’s a good thing these pollinator gardens- they are great ambassadors to the general public and those who don’t know about native plants or bees, wasps, ants, and birds and everything else that keeps the gardens humming.
I work for a Land Trust and all easements are encouraged to have a forest “management” plan. We had one couple who wanted nothing done with their forest. They only wanted invasives removed if that were to help the forest. The couple had to insist on not having a plan and did not want it managed. They won. On many of the easements when a plan is in place anything that may be done to that forest has to go through the plan. Understandable and a good idea and at the same time there’s that word- manage.
About a month ago I also saw the movie, “Jeremiah Johnson”. I walked out of the movie wanting to go and get on my mule and make my way in the wilderness. Fat chance- there’s no place to do that anymore. I pretend when I go out into the woods and surrounding farmland. I pretend I’m exploring for the first time. Sometimes I run into bears- now they are wild- and my mule thinks they are wild. He becomes a bit wild when he sees them. They, the bears get managed if they get to close to humans and invade our space. My friend whom I viewed the movie with said you can still go out to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area- why yes you can for a visit- not to live- it is a managed area. I’m happy to report that around 1 million acres is home to the largest population of grizzly bears outside of Alaska. I could put my mule in a trailer and head to the “Bob” as it is called and I wouldn’t have to pretend until I had to come home again.
Today, I was giving grief to the various invasive species, I have all of them, on the property. Top on my list was Bittersweet. I think there is a cosmic joke here- we can hardly manage the invasives that have invaded our countryside -think about Kudzu- it is wild! And guess what the best manager of Kudzu is- goats- they can consume an acre a day. Ironically invasives seem to be wild- we have a tough time managing some of them and some are downright dangerous, enough to make you have nightmares.
So what’s my point today? I’m grieving a bit that there is no more “wild” left-- everything is managed. I seek out places – this year I am climbing to all the peaks in Rappahannock County—to fulfill this need to be in the wild, to see the wild and to be with the wild-- at least temporarily. I feel peaceful there in the wild, I relax a little more, my mind rests and I’m detached from world that’s managed – at least temporarily. Will there be any wild left in 100 years?
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