Saturday, December 30, 2006


The first thing that motivated me to make a nature post was the proposed listing of the Polar Bear to the Threatened Species List of the Endangered Species Act this week (and a special Thank You to Nicole for correcting me on the specifics of it merely being a proposed listing). As I looked into it further, I saw that dozens upon dozens of newspapers immediately editorialized that it was about time. For those of us who saw An Inconvenient Truth, it turns out that little cartoon was no joke. The heavily studied bear population of greater Churchill, Ontario has dropped to 935 from 1,194 between 1987 and 2004 according to the Fish & Wildlife Service. This is kind of big, considering the rate at which human population has grown since my kindergarten days of 1987. But most of all, respect to those beasts who are the namesake of the act of jumping into icy cold waters on Xmas day all around the world strictly for the purpose of feeling life more coldly and deeply.

I later came upon an article about Goldsborough Creek in Mason County, WA talking about the noticeable return of salmon to the Goldsborough watershed in the five years since the breaching. In spite of my 130-page tome on salmon policy from 2004, I am still uncertain about what is best for salmon within the framework of our society. That said, there is something in my gut about a free-flowing river. I'll be the first to admit that our beloved Quabbin is itself a product of the dammed Swift River, but it is hard to argue with the sound of the rushing creek out my window, singing it's lullaby to me every evening after a hard rain. Anyway, on the dam front, there appears to be more on tap where that came from.

Finally, we have a brief polemic on the Quabbin. Amazingly, this Thursday stood as my first ever voyage into Gate 8, the nearest entry into the reservation from my house. I can blame it on laziness, poor fitness, or poor judgement. I think I will choose all three. It was a beautiful trip, all 25 minutes of it. I ran from my house up to Knight's Pond and down Packardville Road until I skirted around the metal gate into the boundaries of the Quabbin. The road, already gravel, turned soft and comforting immediately. I saw bogs and pine stands alike off to my right and left as I ran further downhill, in the direction of drifting water toward the big reservoir. I imagined moose and hawks and bears but saw none. After about a mile I turned left off of the arterial onto a smaller road that crossed a creek, then went uphill and hit a slight clearing. It was there that I stopped, pissed and turned around. The majesty of the Quabbin pushed me to negative splits, even with the considerable elevation gain coming home. I anxiously await the days when I can actually run 8+ miles on a regular basis, and thus the Quab. The next day, mental imagery in tow, I drove up the Daniel Shays Highway en route to Hwy 2 and ultimately Maine. It is hard to beat the path along the Pelham highlands past Shutesbury and New Salem with lookouts stretching far out into the hills, a deep, deep lake somewhere below.

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