Tool: Know and Protect Your Watershed

December 5, 2014


Watersheds are one way of understanding the natural systems that support the existence of human life.  Knowing and appreciating the watersheds helps humans value and protect the natural systems that support the existence of human life.

Watersystems exist outside the imaginary grid system of arbitrary political and economic boundaries that civilized humans impose on the world around us in order to more efficiently subdivide, control and exploit it.


Imagine a void.  Now add gravity to it.  Now add freshwater falling from the sky.  Now add terrain.  Some low, some high.

The water falls onto the high terrain first, and then it filters and combines its way into streams, then creeks, then tributary rivers, then main rivers.  Perennial plant systems and their roots turn the earth into a giant sponge, steadily soaking up and slowly filtering, infusing and releasing the water over the seasons while also reducing erosion and nutrient loss to gravity.  It all drains eventually to the estuary, the lowest point in the watershed, out to the ocean.

The plants that slow the draining of the water and sustain its availability through the dry spells also generate enough moisture through respiratory activity to contribute to the annual rainfall.  Ironically, removal of perennial plant systems create both intensifying drought and flood conditions.

Salmonids (migratory fish) use intact watersheds to restore biomass and nutrients inevitably lost to gravity back to terrestrial ecosystems (some researchers have found up to 60% of the nitrogen in plants hundreds of meters from the nearest stream coming from salmon).  Damming and polluting the rivers and clearing out riparian areas, inasmuch as it destroys salmon habitat, also slowly kills the surrounding ecosystems.

Yes, watershed.

Know it.  Not figuratively.   Not conceptually.  Physically.  Visit it.  Appreciate it.  Defend it by any means necessary against any and all threats, because threats toward your watershed are threats toward life.  Specifically, your life.  The life of your friends and family.  Our children, born yet or not.

Cutting Canyons

i’m a drop in the bucket
and your bucket’s sprung a leak
draining us away like water
all the power that you seek
without us, you’re weak
you make your living
preying on the meek
when you try to shout
what comes out is just a squeak

while we slide into the stream
and the stream into the creek
and then another intermediary
cutting canyons deep, before
draining from the tributary
to the pristine estuary,
because we carry toxic baggage
what comes next is scary:

collective seamless entity
unstoppable fluid motion
we direct our flow with gravity
back into the ocean, potent potion

waves ebb and flow as levels rise
land and lives go with the tides
political climate destabilize
single problem with two sides
too much, too little water
flooding getting hotter
and drought intensifies

crisis opportunity energy
a tsunami from the deep blue
earthquake-induced origami
breaks what doesn’t fold in two
one Truth, no more lies to hide behind
one Will, one mind and peace to find
one Love, to dominate all time
one Reason to write and recite this rhyme