Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Soundscapes And Increased Anthropogenic Disturbance Effects

As we gaze over wild landscapes and seascapes, it is easy to see examples of anthropogenic disturbances.  These include building roads and structures, harvesting natural resources, and recreation forays by walking, boating, vehicular traffic, and other means to transport.  Our presence and disturbance in these wild areas clearly has effects on wildlife.  As we become aware of our footprints in these areas, we can mitigate effects by learning how to make our presence softer and less frequent.  Our increased adulation and presence in wild areas may often “love them to death”.  We must balance the pervasive need for healthy wild areas, our need to interact and recreate with these areas, and the often overwhelming need to conceptualize and manage wild areas.  If we do not pay attention to the unique qualities of wild areas, we may “manage them to death” in our own image.  Sometimes the best management is to manage humans, while leaving wild areas alone to intrinsic natural processes.  
The effects of increased anthropogenic sound can be even more widespread than the visual effects of disturbance.  Increased sound is perceived by animals as predation risk.  Disturbances evoke antipredator behavior  and interfere with foraging, parental care, and mating.  Increased sound can also mask animal communication and hearing, fundamentally altering animal interactions.  Some animals can adjust their vocalization to compensate for reduced hearing and communication, but this ability varies widely among species.  Animals change their distributions in response to anthropogenic sound.  Bird nesting density is reduced in noisy areas.  Other species avoid areas of increased sound, thereby reducing their available habitat.  
When planning parks and open wild lands, whether terrestrial or aquatic, it is essential to evaluate all aspects of the space.  We can consider physical setting (land, water, sky, and climate), visual stimuli (open, cover, transition areas, edge effects), soundscape (sound levels and information, including anthropogenic sounds), available resources for feeding and reproduction, and all of the living inhabitants.  Human interactions through conservation of wild areas are summarized in the mission statement for the US National Park System to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations” (NPS Organic Act, 1916).  Fulfillment of this conservation mission includes evaluation of all the resources available, understanding the possible enjoyment of these resources, and conservation management for the resources into the future.  We are part of the landscape and soundscape.  As such we need to integrate our activities in a way that does not threaten our neighbors, human and other animals.  We can all get along together if we respect each other and continue communicating beyond the din of civilization.
Posted by michael

Beaver Creek State Natural Area Planning Newsletter

Received this newsletter from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.  If you are interested or concerned about the Natural Area, contact OPRD and get involved in the planning process, as they describe it.

Master Planning Beaver Creek State Natural Area 
and Ona Beach State Park 

February 2011 Newsletter 

Beginning a Master Planning Process 
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is beginning a master planning process for Beaver Creek State Natural Area and Ona Beach State Park located south of Newport in Lincoln County.  Beaver Creek State Natural Area (SNA) was recently acquired and opened with initial improvements as Park of the Year for 2010.  Ona Beach State Park was recently expanded with the acquisition of a large parcel on the east side of Highway 101. A master plan is needed to fully address future recreational use and resource management in both parks. In the planning process OPRD will take a comprehensive look at current information on natural and cultural resource conditions and management needs related to both parks, outdoor recreation trends in the region, areas within the parks that are suitable for recreational development and use, possible affects of park uses on local public facilities services and neighboring land uses, and related ideas and concerns identified through public input. 

Assessments of the parks’ natural and cultural resources are scheduled for completion by late summer 2011. Some of this work was previously completed in preparing a site development plan for the limited development needed for the opening of Beaver Creek SNA. Once these assessments are completed for the rest of the park property, OPRD will take the next step in mapping opportunity areas, identifying areas that are suited for potential recreational development and resource management activities. The map of opportunity areas, supported by the resource assessments, will provide a basis for discussing options for future development and management of the parks in upcoming public meetings. 

Opportunities to Participate 
At key times during the planning process, OPRD holds public meetings followed by written comment opportunities to ask for input on planning issues, goals, use and development concepts, and management strategies. Concurrently, OPRD also holds meetings with a Stakeholder Committee made up of representatives of key interest groups and agencies. The first round of public and stakeholder meetings usually occurs when OPRD has information to share on the park resource conditions and opportunity areas, based on the resource assessments. Accordingly, this first full set of meetings is expected to occur in early fall 2011. (However, OPRD may hold one or more early meetings of Stakeholder Committee members, before completion of the resource assessments, as appropriate to share information emerging from the assessment process and to take full advantage of information and expertise offered by Committee members regarding the assessments in progress.) The next round of public and stakeholder meetings normally occurs when OPRD releases a draft master plan for public review and comments. Optimistically, the draft plan should be ready for public review in late winter 2012. Later in the process, formal meetings on the draft master plan provide additional opportunities for public comments. Comments can be made at a meeting of the State Parks Commission where OPRD asks the Commission for their concurrence on the draft plan. Following, OPRD will hold a public hearing when the draft plan is proposed for adoption as a state rule, and Lincoln County will hold a hearing when the draft plan is presented for land use approval. OPRD’s anticipated master planning schedule will be posted at the master plan web site currently under construction. (See web site address on the reverse side of this newsletter.)

When Will The Stakeholder Committee Be Formed, and Who Will Be On It? 
OPRD is now in the process of identifying key interest groups and agencies that should be represented on the Stakeholder Committee. Persons or groups who wish to participate on the Committee should make their request to OPRD through the contact listed on the reverse side of this newsletter. Final selections will be decided by agreement between the OPRD Coastal Region Manager and Planning Manager. The roster of selected Committee members and the groups they represent will be posted at the master plan web site currently under construction. In general, the criteria used to select Committee members are: 1) The represented group has a significant stake in the outcome, or the representative has professional expertise of particular value to the planning process; 2) The group representative will represent his/her group’s interests ahead of personal interests, and coordinate comments with and convey information to his/her group; 3) The representative is willing to work toward consensus and seek solutions that address multiple interests; 4) The representative is available to attend the meetings; 5) Duplication of membership is generally avoided in representation of an interest, agency or expertise (although members may identify a backup representative to participate in their absence).  

Is OPRD Trying To Add More Land To The Parks? 
OPRD is continuing to negotiate with interested land owners for possible expansion of the park properties. A map of OPRD’s current ownership will be posted at the master plan web site currently under construction. 

Will Any More Development Occur In The Parks Before The Master Plan Is Completed? 
Prior to the official opening of Beaver Creek SNA, limited improvements were needed ahead of the master planning process to provide for basic management of the visitation that was already occurring. Property acquisitions for Beaver Creek included a dwelling that was well suited as a base for visitor contact and orientation with the addition of some parking, signage, a host site, and minor modifications to the dwelling. Because the improvements were limited, they were allowed through a standard land use permit. Before the master plan is completed, additional changes in the parks will be limited to management activities such as control of weeds, control of unauthorized vehicular access on existing forest roads, and vegetation management for forest health and fire protection.  

What Is a State Park Master Plan? 
State park master plans are defined and adopted in state rule. A park master plan guides the development and use of park facilities and the protection and management of important natural, cultural and scenic resources within the park boundaries. The plan is a written and illustrated reference that describes the planning purpose and process, existing park facilities, expected future recreation demand, the suitability of the land for resource protection or recreational development, issues related to public use and management, park goals and objectives, development concepts for future uses and development in the parks, and guidelines for managing the park resources. The useful life of a park master plan is generally no longer than 20 years before it needs to be updated, and the projects described in a master plan may take as long as 10 to 20 years to be fully implemented. 

Where Can I Review The Draft Plan? 

Master plan web site (currently under construction).  As materials produced during the planning process become available, including the draft plan, any addendums to the draft, the final plan, newsletters, etc., they may be reviewed at the master plan website at http://egov.oregon.gov/OPRD/PLANS/planning_ona&beaver.shtml.

OPRD offices. When available, the plan can also be viewed at the OPRD headquarters office in Salem (see address below), and at the South Beach State Park office near Newport, at 5580 South Coast Highway. 

Questions or Comments? 
Please direct questions or comments to: 

Ron Campbell, Master Planning Coordinator  (503) 986-0743 
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department 
725 Summer Street, Suite C    ron.campbell@state.or.us  
Salem, Oregon 97301-1271 

Posted by michael

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Value Of Wild Space; Counting The Ways

Wild space gives us natural capital.  Natural capital is defined as the stock of ecosystem structure that produces the flow of ecosystem goods and services.  Instead of thinking that we must sacrifice something (money, profit, freedom, land use) to conserve natural capital, we can understand that natural capital is one of society’s important assets.  These natural assets supply key services (ecosystem services) to all living beings, including the plants and animals that we are interconnected with.  Natural capital is becoming scarce and degraded.  This trend is partly due to lack of valuation because it is impossible to manage what we do not value.  Demand for natural capital is increasing as populations and standards of living increase.

We can value these natural assets as they contribute to human welfare in three activities.  1) Provide comparisons of natural capital to physical and human capital values.   2) Monitor quantity and quality of natural capital as it changes over time.  3) Evaluate effects of projects that change (enhance or degrade) natural capital stocks.  The success of natural capital valuation will ultimately be judged on how well it facilitates real-world decision making and the conservation of natural capital.
Here are some of the ecosystem services that are provided by natural capital:
Gas regulation 
Climate regulation
Disturbance regulation
Biological regulation
Water regulation
Soil retention
Waste regulation
Nutrient regulation
Water supply
Raw materials
Genetic resources
Medicinal resources
Ornamental resources
Science and education
Spiritual and historic
Philosophical and ethical objections to assigning monetary value claim that natural capital and ecosystem services are not economic assets, and therefore it is immoral to measure them in monetary units.  Another objection to assigning monetary value is based on the perception that willingness-to-pay criteria may assign values that are too low relative to the importance of the services in question, mostly because of the failure to understand the multi-faceted contribution of these services.  
Monetization is a convenient way to express the relative values that society places on different ecosystem services and natural capital.  The purpose of monetary valuation is to create a comparison of disparate ecosystem services through a common metric.  Other metrics are possible; energy units, land units, ecological footprints.  However the choice of unit is not critical because appropriate conversion factors can be used to translate results of the underlying tradeoffs from one metric to another.
The key issue is identification of tradeoffs, in the context of explicit statements of policy objectives and decision criteria.  If one does not have to make tradeoffs between ecosystem services and other things, then valuation is not a concern.  If there are tradeoffs, then valuation is important and will occur.  In these cases it is better to make tradeoffs explicit.  Since everything cannot be reduced to monetary value, we must also include sustainability, fairness, and efficiency in the consideration of tradeoffs between natural capital and human economic activity.
Cost-benefit analysis through natural capital valuation does not dictate choices or replace the authority of decision makers.  It is a tool for organizing, testing, and expressing information about a range of alternatives with regards to courses of action.  This is the science that helps leaders decide about the fate of natural capital.  Analysis should include consideration of ecological structures, processes, functions, and services, human welfare, land-use decisions, and dynamic feedback between these elements.  
We cannot manage what we do not know and understand.  Get to know your wild space and understand how it supports your well-being.  Talk with others about this critical connection between you and the world that supports life.  You will become a better citizen and a good neighbor.  We all depend on the wild space around us for life and death.
Posted by michael

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Robin Returns

Saw a flock of robins on the road and remembered that Spring is not far off.  Then later, among daffodils and English daisy, the flock came up on the hill and began looking for food, running and stopping, overturning leaves and dirt for bugs.  Spring seems early here, perhaps because it has been a mild Winter.  The progression of seasons is powerful enough to change behavior.  In Winter, robins migrate south to warmer climates.  They roost together at night in trees.  When robins return to their Spring nesting grounds, they become territorial and don’t tolerate each other.  They chase and make noise to intimidate their neighbors, keeping nest territories clearly defined.  Turdus migratorius, migrating thrush, is the quintessential early bird.  Their song is first in the morning, a cheerful chorus. Robins were the indicator species warning Rachel Carson when she wrote Silent Spring about the effects of DDT pesticides on birds.

Now in the transition time, robins stay together as they migrate into Spring and nesting.  Flocks will pass through for a month or so and then birds will take up residence and nest.  Seeing this change from friendly flocks to agonistic territory defense, reminded of the fluid nature of behavior so dependent on seasons and resources, nests, mates, and food.  We humans have these seasons too, yet choose to ignore them and remain remarkably resistant to behavior change.  We think that animals are inferior to us, maybe because we can gossip, hold grudges, and wage wars when animals don’t.  They simply observe the changes of season and go about their migrations and living rituals without clinging to rigid patterns of spiteful behavior.  Humans isolate themselves from seasons and changes, fearful of losing their differences from animals.  Humans can become the unchanging avatars of war and conflict, resistant to the bending forces of nature.  We have not always been this way and perhaps we will again enjoy the power of seasons in our cultures.  Holidays seem to be the last holdout of season effects on our behavior.  Christmas and Valentine's Day can remind us of love and generosity.  Thanksgiving reminds of gratitude and enjoyment of bounty.  Halloween reminds of spirits and the power of Fall and decay.  

These changes in season signified by animal migrations and floral phenology lighten us up and remind us of the joy and beauty of change and the oscillation of sounds to make music communicating love and compassion.  The seasonal changes in behavior and hormones support our need for renewal and life.  Paying attention to these changes charges our spirit.  Remaining the same without seasonal patterns deprives us of the vitality of wildness and place.  We forget our birthright and dwell in the darkness of fear and aggravation.  
Posted by michael

Monday, February 7, 2011

Science And Thought

Science is a method for the systematic observation of phenomena and testing of hypotheses.  Successful tests organize knowledge and make predictions about mechanisms and outcomes of action to and from objects.  Science assumes logic and rational explanation of testable hypothesis concerning quantifiable objects.  Objects are subject to the laws of physics and chemistry and are composed of sub-atomic and atomic particles, which are further aggregated into molecules and inorganic and organic structures.  Inorganic structure includes physical existence without life, while organic structure includes life composed of organs, organisms, and ecosystems.  The absence of quantifiable objects precludes the use of scientific methods and requires the use of metaphysics and other forms of philosophy for study and understanding.  Space and energy cannot be studied directly by science because they lack object nature.  If space or energy are objectified for scientific study, then they are not observed in their true nature.  
Thought is pure and not objectified.  Some scientists assume that thought is the sum total of chemical reactions in the brain.  However, this assumption cannot be scientifically tested because thought is not an object and is not subject to the laws of physics and chemistry.  While thought perceives objects, it is not an object itself, as evidenced by imagination, dreams, spirituality, irrationality, intuition, opinion, and other types of imaging activity.  Thought appears to take a seat as consciousness in the brain or awareness in the heart.  However thoughts cannot be captured and contained, like objects in the world.
Science attempts to objectify the world to test and predict its function and meaning.  This is a powerful method for organizing knowledge and controlling the irrational and unknown; dispelling superstition.  Thought is free and not required to follow the laws of physical nature.  With thought we have art, religion, politics, metaphysics, and culture; all ways of expressing the irrational and feeling or rejecting the compassion of space.  
Attempts to scientifically study thoughts and phenomenon that cannot be objectified or do not follow the laws of physics and chemistry violate the assumptions of science and cannot produce valid results.  These attempts waste valuable research money and time, appearing to lend a pseudoscientific patina to otherwise dubious efforts.  We should not confuse science with the cultural and spiritual aspects of our being. 
Space is the source of science and thought.  Everything is included in space and nothing is apart from space.  There is only one space and it has not been created or destroyed.  Space is not an object and every object and thought comes from space.  Space is infinite compassion and love because it touches and supports every other object and thought in loving embrace, never letting go, always supporting without bias or neglect. 
Be careful to include space in your thoughts and actions.  Without space you are compressed, depressed, and listless, feeling a heavy heart that knows the darkness of objects.  The darkness of objectivity is dispelled by the light of space.  Light emerges from space through the mirrors of stars and other sources of illumination and reflects off of objects to give them definition, context, and meaning.  Science is powerful, modern predictable form.  Thought is formless, luminous, and fluid.  Space is timeless and unchanging.  We are all of these, not be be confused with each other.
Posted by michael

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nineteenth Century Medicine And Herbal Remedies On The Oregon Coast

During the later half of the 1800’s, settlers began to move out to the Oregon coast for homesteading.  The coast experienced a time of transition from Aboriginal People’s culture to European-American and Asian culture (settlers).  Aboriginal medicine relied upon shamanistic removal of disease objects and the application of herbal remedies using indigenous plants.  Settler medicine in the late 1800’s relied upon doctors, who were often poorly trained and not licensed, and herbal and chemical remedies compounded according to the Remington and Wood Dispensatory.  When doctors were not available or were not trusted, books such as Gunn’s Domestic Medicine were consulted, or local herbalists who used plant remedies were visited.  

As culture transitioned from aboriginal to settler, herbal remedies remained a mainstay of medicine.  However, the source of herbal remedies changed from indigenous to a combination of local plants and a greater reliance on imported formulas and medicinal species found in the eastern U.S. and in Europe.  The settler medicine formulas often incorporated chemical medicines in addition to plant sources.  A primary focus of the medicines was to relieve pain and act in general ways to rebalance the patient, through digestive, purgative, and emetic means.  Common medicine found on the Oregon trail included purgative pills, castor oil, rum, and peppermint oil.  Laudanum and mercury were used extensively.  The germ theory of modern medicine had not been developed yet.  Instead, 1800’s medicine relied on the ancient Greek theory of the four humors: yellow bile; black bile; blood; and phlegm, corresponding to fire, earth, air, and water.  Bleeding and cupping were common.  Surgery was conducted without disinfection or anesthesia and often resulted in death from infection.
Pharmacists were important sources of medicine for settlers.  They formulated medicines for a wide variety of doctors and they gave advice to customers about using medicine.   Melancthon M. Davis, born in Lane County in 1851, was one of the best know pharmacists in Oregon during the late 1800’s.  He assisted in framing and enacting the initial medical and pharmaceutical laws of the state and was instrumental in establishing the pharmacy program at the Oregon Agricultural College.  In 1874 Mr. Davis married Mary Bushnell and in 1881, they moved with an infant daughter to Newport, where they started a drug store.  In 1884, when a railroad was built between Corvallis and Yaquina City, the Davis family moved to Yaquina City and started a drug store there, where they lived and practiced medicine until 1893.  They would probably have been an important source of medicine for the settlers in the area.  Residents in the Beaver Creek valley, just south of Yaquina City, brought produce and milk to Yaquina City and probably traded with the Davis family.  M.M. Davis owned land near Beaver Creek marsh and the ocean, so he would have been familiar with Beaver Creek settlers and their farms.  He also had tracts of land in the Yaquina estuary and in 1909, built the first dredge to be used on that bay for diking and reclaiming tidelands.  His land became one of the finest dairy farms in the state.

Posted by michael

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ethnobotany Of Beaver Creek Marsh

The Alsea people lived near the Beaver Creek marsh before the 1850’s and the coming of European and Asian settlers.  Drucker (1939) recorded plants that Alsea used for food, shelter, and tools.  Carrying baskets were made of spruce root, willow bark, and grass fiber and smaller baskets were decorated with fern.  Cordage was made from beach grass, willow inner bark, and tule.  Digging sticks and bows were made of vine maple and yew.  Camas and roots of black fern and skunk cabbage were dug for food.  Berries and greens were picked.  Acorns and camus were gathered from inland and eaten.  Houses were constructed of cedar and mats of grass or tule were used throughout houses for door, wall, and floor coverings.  Summer camps had huts constructed with grass and tule thatch tied to roof and wall poles.  Canoes were constructed from cedar, with hardwood paddles, spruce and fir poles, and vine maple fittings.  Yew was used to make wedges for splitting logs into planks.  Clothes were made of shredded bark or grass.  Cooking vessels were carved from maple or alder.  Tobacco was grown in small plots and kinnikinnik was gathered for smoking.  Pipes were made of hard wood or a stone bowl with an elderberry stem.
Clearly, the Alsea people used plants that were available in their environment for all aspects of their lives.  Their uses were not much different from other coastal cultures with access to plant materials.  Zobel (2002) made a study of the people who lived in the Salmon River estuary which is approximately 60 miles north of the Beaver Creek marsh.  The Salmon River people were a subgroup of the Tillamook.  Zobel’s study is a useful summary of available information about use of plants by aboriginal people of the Oregon coast.  He summarized plant types, species names, uses, and origin: Ferns-7 species; Trees-9 species; Shrubs-17 species; Forbs-18 species; Grass-like-12 species; Algae and Moss.  Recorded uses included containers, clothing, food, housing or bedding, implements, medicinal uses, recreational use, ceremonial use, and firewood.  Origins included trade, cultivated, alder forest, dunes, estuary, headland, marsh, spruce-hemlock forest, and ocean.  Plants from all available habitats were used.  There was a close correspondence between the percentages of species gathered and recorded or probable uses in the landscape.  
In a study that included the peoples of coastal Washington state, Gunther (1973)  surveyed plants used by five coastal people: Makah; Quileute; Quinault; Chehalis; and Chinook.  Their use of coastal ecosystem plant material would be similar to the Alsea people uses.  Gunther included more species than did Zobel, suggesting a richer environment for gathering and trade.  
In our gardens next to Beaver Creek marsh we have maintained native vegetation and planted other species that are found in Gunther’s list of plants used by coastal aboriginal people.  In this way we have a relationship with the land, the people, and the plants that sustained them.  Slowly we can understand the qualities that these plants have and the ways in which they interact with each other and with their habitats.  Observations of plant habits begins the story of how plants and people interact to benefit.  After 1850, settlers came to the marsh and brought their own plants in gardens and these changed the story again, something we can study in depth from historical records of farms and forestry.
Here are some examples of indigenous plants used by coastal aboriginal people and listed by Gunther, that are in our gardens:  licorice fern, sword fern, wood fern, lady fern, maidenhair fern, brake fern, deer fern, horsetail, yew, lodgepole pine, spruce, hemlock, fir, cedar, juniper, cattail, rye grass, sedge, tule, skunk cabbage, rush, hellebore, fairy bells, false lily-of-the-valley, trillium, plantain, willow, alder, nettle, wild ginger, dock, spring beauty, water lily, anemone, buttercup, larkspur, columbine, Oregon grape, bleeding heart, alum root, gooseberry, current, ninebark, ocean spray, spirea, wild rose, thimbleberry, salmonberry, blackberry, strawberry, crab apple, lupine, clover, giant vetch, geranium, wood sorrel, maple, vine maple, cascara, yellow violet, fireweed, cow parsnip, rhododendron, huckleberry, salal, kinnikinnick, mint, self heal, hedge nettle, horehound, mullein, speedwell, bedstraw, elderberry, twinberry, honeysuckle, pearly everlasting, yarrow, ox-eye daisy, coltsfoot, thistle, and burdock. 
The names invoke pictures, smells, tastes, textures, medicinal actions, and a host of cultural uses.  The history of plant uses by humans is long and rich with tradition and ingenuity. 
Posted by michael