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Archive for November, 2008

This Land is Whose Land?

soldIt’s Armistice Day, and if you have the day off, a great day to get outside and explore (what day isn’t a great day for outdoor adventure?). I’m not sure what to think when I hear that the Forest Service and BLM have relaxed usage fees for our public land today in an effort to encourage veterans to enjoy the land they fought for. Should we be grateful to our great father in Washington for letting us walk on our land without charging us money? Should we consider the difficult position of these federal land management agencies whose budgets have been decimated in the last decade so that, impoverished, they shake down citizens who dare to use public land? I find it difficult to believe that if this country can bail out huge corporate banks that we can’t also manage our public lands with funds from the community chest. Should we get all civil disobedient and walk our land, refusing to pay the parking fees within 100 meters of trailheads that¬† have been so controversial in the last few years?¬† I don’t really know the answer. The BLM and Forest Service do get a lot of abuse when Libertarian ire rises in people like myself who love to walk the land, but hate paying fees beyond the taxes already paid when there’s no transparent benefit. But these federal agencies, as feeble in preservation and complicit in selling resources to business interests as they may seem to environmentalists, are the only thing standing between our mountains, deserts and rivers and the kind of criminal theft and sale of resources that goes on in Siberia. So when I get all turned around like this, I like to think of the words one of my heroes, Woody Guthrie. You can listen here:

I’m sure of this–if it’s not easy and affordable to access our public land, the public will stay away; the public will forget the wonderful lessons of wilderness. And when people don’t value something, they turn it into a strip mall.

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Coyote Sighting!

coyote1I stopped by my friend the house of my friend, Frank, last week, just in time to hear his neighbor report a coyote sighting in front of the house on Northeast 61st avenue. It’s always great to hear about wildlife sightings in the middle of the city. Hemmed in by two freeways, as you can see from the map, there are wild beasts like the wiley coyote looking for food. A couple of years ago, there was coyote found on the lightrail train at the airport. It was curled up on a hard plastic seat, getting warm on a cold night. After I hearing about the train-hopping coyote, I kept an eye out every time I rode the train to or from a flight. Early one cold morning I remember riding the train home from an early flight and as my car rounded a huge blackberry hedge, I caught sight of a big, fluffy coyote as he pounced to flush a ground squirrel. He looked as unique as each coyote I’ve ever seen up close. This one had a big, light brown cape of thick fur, appearing well-fed on squirrels, birds and cats. That blackberry hedge is gone now, built over by the slice of suburbia plopped down next to the airport–it’s where the Ikea store is. I suppose I would feel differently about the coyote if I grew up on a sheep ranch, but I didn’t. I still feel a sense of kin with this creature who survives in the cracks of wilderness between the paved over city scape.

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Torren on the Radio

Gerard’s recent interview on KBOO featured the following piece recorded by Torren on our ’08 expedition to Olympic National Park. Great job, Torren, and thanks a lot!

The Torren Report

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