I live on the breaks of the Grande Ronde and Minam-Wallowa rivers, and also in the town of La Grande. This dual citizenship offers me a chance to observe the pageant of spring from the high breaks to the valley floor and all the distance in between.
I watch ospreys return to the nest along Willow Creek and Woodell Lane, listen to the liquid gold of meadowlarks and the sighing of huge Pondersoa pine, and see the first yellow avalanche lilies budding out at Pleasant Grove Grange (even as I still search for the first buttercups up on Cricket Flats). "Feral" (I can't in all honesty call them wild) turkeys are strutting around Larson's cow pasture with fanned tails. Quail scoot under the tangle of wild roses, and I hope to encourage a covey to take up residence in our town orchard. Already we have chickadees, juncos, finches, flickers, towhees, and more. At our orchard edge we build brush piles for the ground nesters and are rewarded by seeing them take up residence there.
It seems that wildlife don't need much encouragement; ospreys nest above a road on a pole platform , mallards and teal paddle around in roadside ditches, and the small antelope herd in the open mint and grass seed fields by Imbler has grown to over 20 individuals. It seems all we have to do is be willing to share.
This spring I'm looking forward to planting more native shrubs out at the Ladd Marsh restoration project. We can start to rebuild what has been lost; curving creek channels and riparian zones, threatened plants and nesting habitat. It is so much easier to destroy, through ignorance, through a lack of care, and so so so much harder to rebuild - especially when we are just now starting to understand what it is we have lost. Aldo Leopold wrote that the first rule of tinkering is to save all the pieces. We have not done that, and now must try to recover and reinstate as much as we can.
Last night I listened to a lecture televised on OPB discussing recent research on the absolute need to bring into our daily lives as much 'nature' as we can - from protecting the wildest places to restoring the wild places to recreating the pocket-sized wildish places in urban and suburban areas. This author spoke of nature-deficit as a dis-ease, and the problems it brings to children, families, society. He eloquently pleaded for us to consider ourselves as inextricably linked with, and not separate from, "nature".
We are so fortunate here in living in among so many wild places that I worry we take too much for granted. So much can disappear so quickly - especially when we are not taking care, as Leopold urged, to save all the pieces.
Please join with HCPC in protecting and restoring our wild places and wildlife.