This morning was one of those special Green Gulch mornings. Under a soft mist and ever-brightening skies, most of the community walked down to the 5th field of the farm. Two by two, in silence, led in procession by the abbess and two priests ringing bells. We arrived at the compost yard (where Kogen does much of his daily work) where a large sign was hung on our old fence that said "Free the Creek" with salmon swimming across the bottom. We circled around the sign and Sukey our land steward welcomed us all. She shared with us her beautiful vision of the meandering stream that runs through the valley. Linda Ruth Cutts, our abbess, and Jeremy Levie, the tanto, both shared heartfelt and at times emotional words about what it means to this community and this land to begin this restoration work. They invited back many many creatures, by name, who have been displaced for decades as the creek was manipulated for human use. They also acknowledged and apologized for the harm that was done by the people before us and continued in our hands. They loudly called and welcomed back the creatures (or at least their descendants) who once lived here. It was so beautiful. And it just felt good to acknowledge as a community what we have done to impact the land we love.
Some brief background for you. Green Gulch lies in the middle of about an 8 mile watershed where water collects from all the mountains. Many creeks and tributaries flow into Redwood Creek including the little creek here at Green Gulch. Redwood Creek eventually returns water to the ocean at Muir Beach. The farm that ran here before ours created culverts and damns and other ways of moving water around for use to support the animals. Concrete was poured. A barn was built over the original creek bed. And the creek was moved outside of the fenced in farm area. BUT the coho salmon are endangered, the red legged frog is endangered, steelhead trout are threatened, etc. So in partnership with some others and some grants Green Gulch is doing a HUGE creek restoration project in our lower fields that we hope to positively impact habitat for generations to come. This is just the beginning.
*An additional sentiment and I'll try to keep it brief. I know it may seem ridiculous to some, spending millions of dollars on projects to save little creatures we barely even see or to have to pay for a biologist to survey a construction site every morning for potential frog visitors but if we widen the perspective a bit to allow for the future, the picture and the issue seems more pressing or precious. Sure lets forget about the frogs for a moment but then what happens in the whole food chain as one after another species go extinct? Also think about the great Irish Potato Famine. This happened because, unlike the ancient civilizations in South America that grew dozens of varieties of potatoes, Ireland was basically growing one. So when a pest particular to that variety showed up it decimated everything. Had they grown other varieties circumstances might not have been so dire. Just some food for thought (pun intended).
"Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over." - Mark Twain