Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beaver Creek and Ona Beach State Park Planning

Recently there was a public meeting of staff from Oregon State Parks and interested citizens on the early stages of developing master plans for the Beaver Creek and Ona Beach State Parks.  The overall process, vision, and timing for the master plans was presented and comments from citizens were listened to and recorded.  There were many comments about access to the parks, need for careful consideration of resources and possible overuse of the parks, especially Beaver Creek, and the need to engage the public in the planning process.  
State Parks has a well-developed planning process that is used for all state parks.  The public is invited to participate through several channels.  A relatively new initiative is called Centennial Horizon which includes long-term planning for all of Oregon’s state parks.  Further information can be seen in the planning section of the State Parks website.  There will be a Beaver Creek and Ona master plan website in a month or two, and in the meanwhile you can send input and comments to or contact the State Parks office in Newport at 541-265-8179.
I have found the staff at State parks to be receptive and responsive to comments by citizens.  If you have a concern or have some words of praise about their planning and activities, let them know.  A comment was made at the recent planning meeting that suggested that State Parks is not responsive to public input and hides their actions, because they did not have enough widely publicized public meetings and open forums about Beaver Creek and Ona Beach.  State parks can be reached any time during business hours and the staff are easy to talk to.  Get involved and don’t wait for an invitation to a public meeting.  
Some interesting planning considerations were introduced at the recent meeting.  The planning process looks out over the next 100 years, as included in the Centennial Horizon.  Master plans will be developed for the Beaver Creek Park and for Ona Beach Park, which are separate but adjacent state natural area and state park.  The state natural area emphasizes wetland and riparian conservation, trails, and interpretation, with only very limited development.  The state park could provide more typical coastal park uses, including a possible low impact campground near the beach.  There will be a complete assessment of resource sensitivity and quality recreation needs.  Resources include habitats, plant communities, wetlands and riparian habitats, hazards, water features, topography, soils, historic and prehistoric culture, and scenic features.  Any needed development in Ona Beach Park will be placed in low quality areas, with buffers to neighbors and higher quality resources. 
Several citizens expressed concern about the possibility for “loving nature to death” in Beaver Creek Park and there was discussion of how to limit public access.  This topic will continue to be an important consideration for Beaver Creek Park.  Real answers to this concern will come from careful observation of public behavior in the park in coming years and using this data in planning further park actions.  One suggestion was that access and trails to Beaver Creek Park should be limited at first and then slowly opened up through time to conserve its unique qualities from human impact.
What do you think about planning for Beaver Creek and Ona Beach Parks?  Let State Parks know your views.  The process is open and free.
Posted by michael  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Potency Of The Marsh

The marsh is part of nature, an open space that is controlled by natural forces and laws.  As such, the marsh and all other open spaces are displays of the wisdom of nature.  When we see open spaces, our hearts emerge beyond our minds and we experience well being and wonder.  In other places where nature is not so open and we exert human control, we experience the force of our thoughts and fixations, covering over our links with nature.  We do not manage nature.  We manage humans in nature.  So in our lives there is this dynamic between open nature and human engineering.  We claim control and dominion over nature and call ourselves good stewards of the land.  How can we control nature, that is so much more cohesive and potent than our wandering consciousness?  We are part of nature and our control is only illusory, allowed by open nature.  We are separate from nature only in our self-minds.
So people tell me that you can “love nature to death”.  I see that it is more the case that nature loves us to death.  We are born and die in vast nature.  Nature is not born or dying, only moving like a stream in its bed to the ocean.  In places where we exert our human logic, science, objectification, and machines such as cities, towns, villages, natural resource extractions (farms, fishing, timber, and mining), and wars, we hide nature’s potency and call it human civilization and domination.  During “time off”, we commune with nature in open spaces and enjoy the lasting benefits of “free” air, water, and care-free thoughts and emotions.  Nature is an expression of the vast potency of life that is beyond our abilities to understand and predict.  When we set aside lands and waters as open space, we allow our true nature to exist in harmony with human activity.  
Walk along a path or road near open space.  There is often trash along the path.  You may have a gut reaction of disgust, asking who would throw away that trash, there?  You separate yourself from the trash and look up to the beauty of open space.  But are you separate?  That person who trashed your beautiful space is your relative, in your human family.  Why do you reject them?  The trash is part of open space too.  We can learn to see how everything is part of us.  We can teach each other the value of accepting what is, caring for each other in ways that support nature, and not fighting like children in the school yard.  Someone threw the trash away on the path because they were in a trash mood, having a trash emotion.  By giving them open space, they can brighten their mood and have the emotions of love and compassion.  By turning our minds to open space, we can guide each other and teach the values of air, water, health, and peace, things that cannot and are not bought and sold in the human market places.  
Posted by michael 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Planning Meeting For Beaver Creek State Natural Area

Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the Beaver Creek State Natural Area/Ona Beach State Park master plan during a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Central Lincoln People Utility District meeting room, 2119 N. Coast Highway in Newport.

Posted by michael

Friday, October 15, 2010

Clearly Apparent Yet Not Existent

The creek flows through the marsh and out into the ocean, surrounded and suffused by space.  There are many examples here of what is clearly apparent yet not existent.  We can call these examples metaphors and symbols for the nature of things.  We objectify our existence, separating ourselves from other objects and beings and declare us and them.  Objects and subjects are like a creek in its bed, wind in space, waves on water, reflections in mirrors, clouds in sky, and dreams in sleep.  Objects and subjects are illusory as they have no independent, lasting self-nature and are interdependent in a web of cause and effect.  This very dependence is the appearance that we call object and make philosophy and science with.  Since we are not omniscient, we are not able to see all of these causes and conditions.  We believe strongly in the independence of objects, as if they were separate and distinguishable, and say that they have self-nature.  We especially have a strong sense of ego; that we are independent, with self-will. 
The ego is like the emperor in the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.  Two (duality) tailors (illusion) weave clothes (objects) for the emperor (ego) that are so light and fine (desirable) as to appear invisible (no cause and effect), especially to anyone too stupid or incompetent (shame) to appreciate their quality.  A child (original nature) eventually saw the emperor in his new clothes and recognized that he was naked.  But the emperor could not acknowledge this nakedness (awareness) and continued on, walking through the streets (the world) with the illusion of his new clothes.        
How deluded we are.  By maintaining this separation of subjective self and objective other, we fail to see what is.  We grasp on to solidity of self and objects as if they did not constantly change and depend on each other.  Even if we recognize change, we do not believe that it applies to our precious self and others.  We are afraid when objects change, as this represents loss and gain of something desirable or abhorrent.  We fail to see that birth, life, and death are a continuum, with the magical properties of spontaneous appearance and disappearance of consciousness that are dependent upon subject and objects.  This cycle rests upon unchanging awareness, which we sense but cannot see.  We are this awareness, which gives rise to the display of subjects and objects; just like waves forming and dissolving into water, reflections arising and disappearing in mirrors, clouds forming and dissolving into sky, and dreams appearing and disappearing in sleep.  The water, mirrors, sky, and sleep are metaphors for awareness and are not changed by this display.  Recognizing the illusory nature of display, we can return to our nature and be complete. 

When we are not attached to our conclusions, concepts, and training about existence, then we are free to experience our nature in the vast ocean of space which is mind.  We easily move through the causes and conditions that surround us.  Then we become what we are, omniscient awareness in the unending web of interdependence.  Everything is as it should be in the unending dance of change.  Relax and enjoy every emotion, thought, and perception as the illusions that they are, without the anxiety of grasping and fixation.

Posted by michael

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beaver Creek Art Show

Scenes from the opening night of the art show at the Newport Visual Arts Center, Upstairs Gallery.  Paintings, ceramics, photographs, pastels, and sculpture are on display through October, 2010.  Five artists, Sandy Roumagoux, Liisa Rahkonen, Nancy Jane Reid, Jackie Niemi, and Michael Davis show works inspired by the Beaver Creek State Natural Area.  The natural mind of wildness is invoked in the gallery, which is filled with light and life in the colors of marsh.

Reflections reveal our nature, as light is returned to us from objects, waking and dreaming;  all are mirrors.  We name these reflections perception, emotion, and thought.  We forget that everything is clearly apparent, but not existent.  We objectify that which is simply reflection and call it the world.  At the marsh, we are real and bask in the glow of the singularity that is our love for all beings and places.  We are alive and know it in our hearts.

Posted by michael

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Patient Watching

USFWS public domain

Thirty years ago, I had a conversation with Range Bayer about what he calls patient watching.  We talked about the interesting and different behavior that can be seen when observations of animals are made over a relatively long period of time.  Our conversation had a profound effect on me.  Going on to study fish behavior, I used what Range had said about patient watching.  Recently, Range and I talked about patient watching again and remembered that this method is indeed a powerful way to see the world.  Range used patient watching in his studies of great blue herons.
In classical behavior studies, the observer may watch an individual for short periods of time, generally 15 minutes or less.  This is called focal study and several individuals may be observed to gather replicate data for statistical analysis of mean individual behavior in a population.  The watching is done with an eye towards recording occurrence and duration of previously determined stereotypical behavior such as agonistic displays, feeding, and courtship.  This behavior is often collected into an ethogram and data is recorded that reinforces these conceptual frameworks. 
What happens when the observer watches an individual for an hour, or several hours, or through tidal cycles for up to 12 hours?  We no longer simply see stereotypical behavior that was preconceived.  We begin to see atypical, non-stereotypical animal behavior in the context of their environment.  We see how the individual responds to constantly fluctuating environmental conditions and in relation to other animals that may enter or exit the perception space of the focal individual.  This diversity of behavior is a new window on the animal and is a rich source of hypotheses and eventual explanatory information about how the animal behaves.  These patient watching studies are difficult, as they require a good deal of patience, sitting quietly for long periods of time while maintaining attention on the focal animal.  Try sitting and watching the same bird for an hour.  You must be comfortable, maintain attention, and make reliable notes for later reference and quantification.  This is the natural activity of one who meditates.  A great blue heron is a master of this mediation in the marsh, while looking for food and avoiding conflict with other animals.    
When we use patient watching, we choose not to look specifically for predetermined behavior, relaxing assumptions about what we might see.  We choose to openly watch for any behavior that may occur, repeatedly or infrequently, over a wide range of environmental and social conditions for the animal.  There are few, if any, patient watching behavior studies documented in the scientific literature.  I am making an effort to find these sorts of studies, as they are a unique contribution to knowledge of animal behavior and its meaning in ecology.  Patient watching studies can give the big picture for animals.
How can we use patient watching in our lives?  We can gain perspective on the events and circumstances of our lives by seeing through the lens of extended time.  By not automatically applying short-term conceptual assumptions to our observations, we can begin to see directly and sense the underlying forces that shape our actions and thoughts.  Imagine the potential power of seeing the wider field of connections among emotions, objects, people, and animals.  This may be a new source of inspiration and wealth, akin to the power of wildness to bring us contentment and well-being.  It would certainly help us discern the differences among conceptual seeing and direct seeing that often cloud our knowledge.  Maybe we would not be so quick to jump to conclusions about our world.  This could help reduce bias and prejudice.
Posted by michael 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Park Opening Day

Opening day at the Beaver Creek State Natural Area.  On a cloudy, coastal day speakers for the dedication included:  Jean Cowen, State Representative;  Davis Moriuchi, Chair, Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission; Ted Kulongoski, Governor of Oregon; Terry Thompson, Lincoln County Commissioner; and Esther Lev, Executive Director, The Wetlands Conservancy.  Friends gathered and shared memories and aspirations.  A ribbon was cut, music from 'Coin of the Realm' enjoyed, and refreshments served.    

A big day for Beaver Creek marsh, where the people gathered and remembered the value of wetlands and wildness.  Looking forward to a bright future for Beaver Creek watershed and the plants, animals, and humans that visit and live in it.  So many people, communities, organizations, and agencies have been involved with this conservation effort, which continues forward with new acquisitions and conservation easements.  There is a heartfelt commitment to bring the legacy of wildness into the future for the benefit of all.  Thank you for this grace.

Posted by michael