Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Strange Case Of Missing Wetlands Value

Who stole the value of wetlands and when and where did this event occur?  In mythic time wetlands are regarded as important places for healing and spiritual understanding.  The garden of Eden was in a wetland surrounded by rivers in the desert.  Wetlands supplied water and food for the people through time immemorial.  Animals in wetlands supported the telling of tales, important for understanding nature.  Heron is an important messenger of the gods, bringing the connection between earth and heaven.  Frog is a symbol of birth, death, and rebirth; as she goes through changes in form, associated with wetland ponds and streams.  Many other animals and plants supply food, medicine, and cultural context for the people. 

Then along came science and the objective world; powerful conceptual grasping.  Human consciousness moved out of mythic time and into city time, with the formation of civilizations.  Eventually written language and money were invented and the science of economics developed.  The great human marketplaces grew and the connection between myth and human thought became hidden by the power of objective thought and philosophy.  We came to see every thing and person as objects separated from us as subjects.  This separation of the world between us and them produced a lasting cultural valuation based on richer and poorer.  Endless wars ensued to constantly adjust the balance of payments and power among cultures.  
Now we are in a crisis of understanding.  Great religions developed to act as gateways to the spiritual power of nature and renewal and these only served to reinforce the sense of objectivity for the people; priests separated people from spiritual power.  The objective world simply does not explain everything.  We have experiences of hope and fear that cannot be objectified or given monetary value.  There are vast areas of our consciousness that are subject to change by outside circumstances, but are not explainable by rational thought.  We do not understand the source of consciousness with birth.  We do not understand the disappearance of consciousness with death.  These events are magic, with spontaneous appearance and disappearance; something that is not consistent with rational thought and objectivity.  We are afraid of death and will not talk or think about it.   
Yet we know that when we take a walk or paddle a boat outside with the sky above and the marsh below, that we are happy and carefree.  This experience of wildness is priceless.  In our state of well-being, we cannot defend this value in court when developers argue for draining the marsh and building new value in their banks.
Have we forgotten our heritage?  Do we not see that subject and object cannot exist without each other, inseparable.  We talk about cause and effect, but don’t believe in it when we act without care for consequences.  We are nihilists at heart, mouthing words of empty value to satisfy the objectivity gods.  This separation that we feel and that has supported the polarity of human economic culture is the source of so much suffering.  We can take responsibility for our world by seeing the interface between subject and object and remembering the spiritual connection that we have with every living being and the world we live in.  This is the ultimate value, beyond the objectification of  existence.  We can declare that wetlands have value and that we are willing to conserve them and other wildness that is vital to our well-being.   
Posted by michael

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Value of Wetlands Vegetation

Research taking place in the large wave flume at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at OSU is the first of its kind to document the response of wetland plant beds taken from coastal environments to simulated waves.  The study is designed to measure the ability for wetland plants to absorb wave energy, to survive exposure to waves, and to trap sediment for reduced erosion from wetlands.  The results of this study may be used to help determine the economic value of vegetation in wetlands and on engineered water and erosion control structures such as levees and dikes.
Dennis Albert, an Oregon State University assistant professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences and a principle investigator for the study, stated that “We’ve understood many of the values of coastal wetlands for some time, but this is one of our first opportunities to accurately measure the amount of wave energy reduction and sediment accumulation that occurs because of the plants.  Being able to quantify additional ecological services for wetlands whose value for fish and wildlife habitat is already well-documented provides further incentive to maintain and manage coastal wetlands.  Land use planning and coastal resource management benefit directly from a better understanding of the role wetlands and plant communities play in protecting our homes, communities and aquatic habitat.”
Commonly acknowledged wetland resources of value include wildlife habitat, cleaner water, less flood and erosion damage, recreation, cooler planet, and healthy economy.  While these resources are intuitively valuable, we are generally unable to assign these values, either in monetary terms or in subjective references such as spiritual, aesthetic,  cultural, and historic terms.  We take wetlands for granted, assuming that they are surplus lands that are difficult to develop, need to be drained to be productive, and don’t have much value. 
Just because we have not studied wetlands resources in much detail does not mean that they are not valuable, especially to society as a whole.  Our present appreciation of wetlands value in the Northwest will surely be enhanced by further scientific study on the coast and in the Willamette Valley and by increased education of landowners and recreation makers who have the most exposure to wetlands.  
The poor ability to assign value to wetlands can be improved by viewing value not only in monetary terms, but also in subjective terms.  While these subjective terms may not hold in a court of law, they can have powerful cultural and political influence for policy making and conservation.  When we as a society understand the importance of subjective values, aside from monetary worth, then we can enhance our cultural development and move forward as a civilization that is worthy of the name civilized.  This assignment of value will be supported by community and political will to conserve wetlands and to recognize their valuable contributions to our lives.  

It is critical that wetlands not suffer the neglect of common resources which everyone uses, and which are not taken care of because they belong to no one in particular (tragedy of the commons).  Since wetlands are poorly valued, it would appear that conservation of wetlands must come from the interest and action of private citizens and foundations, who support and fund acquisitions of lands.  These acquisitions would further persuade politicians, government agencies, and foundations to fund and support research towards defining wetland values.  Although passing laws designed to conserve wetlands is useful in the short term, laws change constantly.  Property acquisition and management is a more stable conservation method that is linked to personal responsibility through knowledge-based policies.  
Posted by michael 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On The Occasion Of The Autumnal Equinox

The season has changed into Autumn and we witness the slow decay and death of summer life as the light angle is lowered and rain approaches.  It is a time of great leveling and return; a remembering of the equanimity of birth and death in nature.  This season is one of reflection and understanding for the power of dissolution and return to the source. 

“Whatever appearances manifest are equal as sense objects; simply what is evident to the sense faculties.  Whatever thoughts arise are equal as mental events; simply conscious states that leave no trace.  Both are equal in the moment; simply the bonds of denial or affirmation.  In actuality, they are equal in the final analysis; nothing but appearances that have no basis.  Sense objects are equal in their distinctness; upon examination simply leaving no trace.  Ordinary states of consciousness are equal in essence; upon analysis nothing but space.  Objects and mind are nondual; simply pure open space. Whoever understands things in this way is a descendent of Samantabhadra; a sublime spiritual heir of the victorious ones, a master of awareness in the highest sense."  
Longchenpa wrote these words.
Autumn is a mythical time in which we can see the dying, death, and dissolution of summer life.  We enjoy the bountiful harvest of summer’s growth and we give thanks.  From ancient times through to now, the allegory of alchemy has illustrated this cycle of birth, death, and dissolution through the seasons.  We can see this in the marsh and forest colors.  Stage 1 is Blackening, in which putrefaction occurs with reduction to pure material.  Earth and water are freed.  Stage 2 is Whitening, in which sublimation occurs with discovery of reflected inner light, the moon, water of life.  Stage 3 is Yellowing, which is a return to complete purity with direct light from the sun.  Stage 4 is Reddening, which is coagulation, a return to form.  
The cycle of seasons can be stated as processes;  Calcination-form to ash, Dissolution-ash to water, Separation-water to essence, Conjunction-essence to recombination, Fermentation-recombination to new being, Distillation-new being to increased purity, Coagulation-pure being to precipitation of new body.  These processes can occur through the evident connections of elements and qualities.  Earth is cold and dry. Water is cold and moist.  Fire is hot and dry.  Air is hot and moist.  These elements can change into each other through the qualities they have in common- cold, hot, dry, and moist -based on the primal material and awareness.  We have discounted our perceptions of elements and qualities in favor of scientific views which objectify the worlds and separate us from them.  When we stand before the marsh we see earth, water, fire, air, and space in wildness.  Why not use these metaphorical expressions to explore the inner space of awareness and the consciousness of objects that are clearly apparent; arising, remaining, and dissolving so easily, spontaneously.  Happy autumn and best wishes for an abundant harvest. 
Posted by michael

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beaver Creek State Natural Area Welcome Center

Views of the Beaver Creek State Natural Area Welcome Center.  There are parking spaces, trails around the center, information displays, maps of the park, video of Beaver Creek and the park, and friendly staff to greet you and answer questions.  There is a large porch with sweeping vistas of the park and shelter inside the house from our famous storms.

Posted by michael

News From Beaver Creek State Natural Area

A recent article by Lori Tobias, in The Oregonian tells us two important events for the Beaver Creek area.  On October 1, 2010, there will be a grand opening ceremony for the State Natural Area.  The ribbon cutting is at 11 am, with activities running until 1 pm, including refreshments and music at the new Welcome Center.  Parking is at Ona Beach State Park, with shuttles to the Welcome Center.  The second significant milestone is the announcement by State Parks spokesman Chris Havel, of the pending acquisition of 583 acres of timberland, adjacent to Ona Beach State Park, that will be developed over several years into a new coastal campground.  The land was planted 15 years ago as a mixed coastal forest and overlooks the lower Beaver Creek marsh, including marsh owned by Wetlands Conservancy.  This new acquisition by State Parks is an important continuing investment in the conservation of the Beaver Creek watershed.
Neighbors in the Beaver Creek valley have been nervous about all of the attention, increased visitors, and possible disruption to the beloved valley they call home.  Rumors  have confused the purpose of the State Natural Area, suggesting that it will be developed into a campground.  Such development is not a part of the Natural Area plan.  Natural Areas are set aside in a world program that aims to keep wildness available in our common heritage.  These areas are specifically reserved from development and may include trails and signs to educate and guide visitors.  In Beaver Creek, the visitor by boat leaves only footprints of ripples on the water.      
With the new State Parks land acquisition, plans for a campground should begin to emerge and show how increasing visitor traffic to the Beaver Creek area can find a temporary home without impacting the valley and its residents.  This new campground will be near the ocean, marsh, and forests; yet set aside from them in a respectful distance that invites interactions with nature.  Access to the campground will be from Hwy 101 and near Seal Rock.  While we residents value the peace, quiet, and isolation of the Beaver Creek valley, I feel that it is important to entertain visitors from around the world, so that they can experience the magic of this place and take that experience home with them, to light fires of imagination and inspiration in their lives and hearths.  We can trust in the power of nature to sooth the traveler’s spirit and to refresh their senses.  They can emerge from a paddle on the creek or a hike in the fields and forests of Beaver Creek with a renewed sense of their place in wildness and their responsibility to these places.  Wildness gives us the undefinable sense of well-being that is essential for our common survival. 
Posted by michael

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Art Inspired By Beaver Creek State Natural Area

This is a cross-post from Oregon Days of Culture of a notice for an upcoming art show at the Newport Visual Art Center, Upstairs Gallery,  opening on October 8, 2010 and running through October.

Art Inspired by Beaver Creek State Natural Area
This Gallery/Museum Exhibit is a Public event
and is Free.
October 8, 2010 - 12:00 pm

This event will take place at
Newport Visual Arts Center
777 NW Beach DR
Newport, OR 97365

Five artists reflect on the newest state park and the Governor’s Park of the Year, the Beaver Creek State Natural Area. Mediums include oils by Sandy Roumagoux, photographs by Michael Davis and Nancy Jane Reid, drawings by Jackie Niemi, and ceramics by Liisa Rahkonan.

Beaver Creek Marsh, oil painting by Sandy Roumagoux

Root Cave Bones, pastel and charcoal drawing by Jackie Niemi.
Sky Ranch, photograph by Michael Davis.

Tules, photograph by Nancy Jane Reid.

Doe Shelter, ceramic sculpture by Liisa Rahkonen.
Posted by michael

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Are Invited

Fun and Food offered as benefit for the Wetlands Conservancy

A fun and delicious fundraising event for The Wetlands Conservancy is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, at Blue Heron Farms, an organic farm on Alsea Bay. A multi-course gourmet dinner cooked with a wood-fired pizza oven and featuring local seafoods, along with baked goods and Oregon wines will be featured. 
Local and other Oregon-based sponsors providing food for the event and donations for the silent auction include Rogue Ales, Local Ocean Seafoods, Drift Inn, Bread and Roses, Oregon Oyster, Wilder, SeaPort Air, Oregon Albacore Commission, Kettle Foods, Pacific Natural Foods, Whole Foods, Ecosystems Services LLC., Chehalem Winery, Nostrana Restaurant, Organically Grown, Springfield Creamery, Columbia Sportswear, Organic Valley, and LUSH Cosmetics.
There will also be great tour options; hiking the new Beaver Creek State Park
Natural Area, birding with experts and free kayak use. 
Folks need to buy tickets on-line as soon as possible at Wetlands Conservancy website
Any questions call 541-547-4097, Paul Engelmeyer, PO Box 694,Yachats, OR 97498 

Posted by michael

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bright Day On The Water

Bright day on Beaver Creek.  Being on the water reminds of me of how we see.  The world is composed of five movements; earth, water, air, fire, and space.  Everything else is elaboration on these movements and added complexity to satisfy our longing for knowledge.  Of course we talk and think about science and the chemical elements with their atoms listed in the periodic table.  We say that objects and beings are composed of atoms that are subject to the laws of physics and chemistry, as if this explained what we see and do.  Even further in our conceptual cave, we talk about quantum physics and the particles that make up atoms, until reaching the ultimate particles.  Then finally we move into the space-time continuum and attempt a grand unified field theory of everything.  At the end of the day, we are still in a boat, paddling up the creek, with life but a dream.

In any event, what we see and respond to are the five movements.  So paddling on Beaver Creek through a sunlit afternoon actually immerses us in the theory of everything; spontaneously and all without effort.  We do not arrive at any conclusions about the nature of the universe and we are relaxed into the rhythm of sun sparkles and waves.  This is the reality that wave-particle theory of atoms and photons aspires to.  As we feel the imposed separation of subject and object that science assumes, there is a deep emotional reaction that yearns for understanding our source and meaning.  This source is wildness and the five movements; earth, water, air, fire, and space.  By actually thinking and creating art in the forms of the five movements, we may recognize our nature.  Consider the center of a wheel.  It is undefined, yet pervades all wheels.  The center is everywhere, undefined and pervasive.  We are like this center, moving through a dream world of perceptions and images that are spokes on a wheel which becomes organized by our movements.  Deconstruction will drive you crazy with endless details.  Reconstruction will set you free, whole again.

Posted by michael

Monday, September 6, 2010

How We See

We see our visual world through reflected light in the mind.  This light can be captured and explored through photography.  By looking at the seamless boundary of object and reflection, we can see the continuum of mind, which is luminous space.  The sun appears in water as a thousand reflections (sparkles); so too colors and shapes appear in mind.  Reflections reveal our nature, as light is returned to us from objects, waking or dreaming.  We name these reflections perception, emotion, and thought.  Calmly looking, we can see that mind is not altered by its perceptions, just as mirrors are not altered by reflections.  All apparent and hidden things (this and that) arise from, rest on, and dissolve into radiant space, which remains unchanging.  Our world and us in it are reflections in the vast mirror of space, the lucid and radiant mother of all.  We are not separate from our reflections; like the sun reflected a thousand times in water is not separate from the radiant sun in space.

Posted by michael

Friday, September 3, 2010

Red Ant Hill

This is a red ant hill near our home in Beaver Creek marsh.  These ants protect our structures, as they cruise the perimeters and capture carpenter ants and termites for food.  The ants are better at pest control than human exterminators and toxic pesticides. Note the large logs (twigs) that the ants have dragged up on the nest.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” “I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” “Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:        
Aesop Fable, 6th Century BC.

Posted by michael

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beaver Creek Natural Area Opening Date

The Beaver Creek State Natural Area officially opens on October 1, 2010.  Check in with the State Park sites for further information, Beaver Creek trail guide, and Beaver Creek birding checklist.  Looking forward to much more information from State Parks on the natural history and human history of the area.  This is a fruition of many years of community participation, planning, fundraising, acquisition, and good old fashion fun.  Congratulations to all of the people involved in the superb conservation effort that has maintained an important legacy; Beaver Creek and the marsh that flows into the Pacific Ocean, by way of Ona Beach.  

Posted by michael