Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Go Easy On The Land

Proper wilderness storage.

I miss bears the most.

They were the first to go into storage.

After that, the other big animals. Elk, deer, the few mountain goats we have here. The occasional bighorn sheep. That kind of thing.


Coyotes are hard. Too wily for their own good sometimes, but we had to get them, and we did.

The wolves - few and scattered. Hardly here at all, but they were here, so we were obliged to nab every one.

After the large animals were taken care of, we went small.

Beavers, marmots, muskrats, otters, ground squirrels, voles, shrews, snakes, lizards, frogs, and then.

To even smaller scales. The buzzies.

That's what I call them. Buzzies.

The kind of stuff most people want to get shut of, but they're part of nature. They belong here as much as anything. So we had to store them too.

Deer flies, horse flies, mosquitoes - all that. Rounded them up, stuffed them into boxes (yes, carefully), and shipped them to cold storage.

In a few years when the budget thing improves, and if we've done our job right, we'll truck everything back out here, and it should all be good as new. Slowly warm every species back to ambient temperature, add a bit of water, and release.

That's about it.

Personally speaking - and this is just my own opinion - it's the ticks that I'd skip over. Mosquitoes I can take. Even horseflies.

Ticks, no. They've always given me the creeps. You ask me, I'd finish them off now.

But on the other hand, I am a professional. I do have standards, and do what I'm paid to do, and that is S.O.S. Save our species. All of them. Which is why I'm here.

So I guess the ticks will be tucked away safely like the rest.

At least my work is almost done. I don't envy the botanists.

Do you have any idea what a tree weighs? My god.

In the rain forests you see trees over 250 feet tall. That's 76 meters, and tons and tons and tons of tree, repeated endlessly along the coast.

Here, where it's drier, sure the trees are smaller, but even small trees are large, you know? And heavy. Each and every one of them has to be collected, wrapped, laid into its own special box, and shipped.

Now that's a job. One worse than mine.

But after the trees and shrubs and grasses and mossy patches and lichens are all collected, then the trail rollers move in.

That work is so awesomely nasty that only volunteers will do it. Otherwise we'd lose hundreds of miles of trails.

But the people who hike here want to preserve their trails, and they helped to build lots of them. So they will do the work.

Every inch of trail has to be rolled up while preserving each minute detail. Every curve and bump. Every jig and jag. Every jottle and jump.

It's endless.

Dusty, sweaty work, but it has to be done.

And when the trails have been pulled up, we shut off the water, lower the sky, and deflate the mountains.

Mountains aren't as bad as you'd think, once the air is out of them. It's pretty easy to haul them off. Well, not easy, but, you know. It's relative.

So, while you may think that federal budget cutting is only theater played out in stuffy rooms, it does have effects in places you might not expect, like deep in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

All eleven million acres of wilderness - mountains, forests, everything that lives there - all of it has to be stuffed into boxes and stored away for the sake of future generations.

I may not live to see it back in place again, but your children might. Or your grandchildren.

So I guess that's why I do what I do.

Call me crazy, or just call me Dr. Art Bark, Wildlife Salvage Specialist.


Trails Of Trouble On Wild Lands