Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Helping The Environment -- With Dynamite!

Ah, the Great Outdoors! The rich smells of vegetation, fresh air, conifers, flowers, and – cordite. Yes, with the miracle of modern explosives, we can blast our way to a better tomorrow.

Case in point: Last Fall the Nature Conservancy restored wetlands in the Klamath Basin of Oregon by blowing up two miles of levees:

Video and article: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oregon/about/art22854.html

In a move that would make the inventor of dynamite proud (Alfred Nobel – yes, for whom the Nobel Prize is named), the Nature Conservancy restored wetlands along the Williamson River. Blowing a river levee sky-high allowed the Williamson River to dump into the Williamson River Delta wetlands, which had been bypassed for agricultural reasons in the 1950s.

Oh, but no one thought about the lowly Lost River sucker fish, whose newborn fish fry required the delta to grow in. Without the delta, these tender, baby fish were dumped directly into Upper Klamath Lake, which could be as much as three degrees colder ("It’s like bringing a fish home from the pet store and dumping it into a cold tank without letting it get acclimated,” says Matt Barry, director of the Williamson River Delta Preserve), and with little cover to hide from predators. Now these fish are endangered. And, by hurting the wetlands, bird species like cranes and terns weren't able to get the habitat they needed. Also, the lake's water quality dropped, in part because wetlands weren't there to absorb pollutants.

Now these little fishies will have a nice, warm, decaying marsh to live and grow in, and their bird friends will have food (the fish!) and homes of their own. Home sweet wetlands.

So let's give an explosive "Hurray" to these naturalists and things that go Boom! It's not everyday you get to blow things up in the name of helping nature.

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