Practical Ways to Re-Indigenize the Grasslands. Really.

Two days ago, I suggested that the former grassland hillsides of the Okanagan Valley (now large, private expanses of unproductive and water-wasting weeds), an area at least equal to the 100s of 1000s of hectares of lost grasslands on the valley benches and the equally extensive lost wetlands of the valley bottom, can be reclaimed for environmentally productive use by weaving into them again valuable plants that have demonstrated an ability to enter the old ecosystems and fill now-lost niches. The balsam-root niche, a kind of clumping wild sunflower,

First of the Year! March 14, 2015

… could be augmented by forms of domestic sunflower…

 

My Wildflower Garden, with a Bird-seeded Sunflower

… and extend the season for birds and deer, replacing niches currently empty due to extirpation by cattle ranching, as well as provide seed and flowers for human use. Similarly, as I pointed out two days ago, the niche of early greens such as desert parsley…

Desert Parsley, a Few Days After Snow Melt

Seed is a secondary crop. Other early parsleys provide root flours.

… could either be augmented by seeding wild parsley and other cold climate greens, or extended into the lost lily niche by planting or seeding asparagus extensively, to present not one feral plant (as below) but thousands.

Asparagus Looking at New Opportunities

Should predation be a limiting problem, the plants could be protected by screens of young roses or hawthorns.

Black Hawthorn

Not so young, but it was once. There are several generations here. Note the youngest daughters to the left.

However, the reintroduction of human, nutritional and environmental values into degraded, industrialized, colonized and privatized land and, as I pointed out yesterday, healing its structurally racist agenda, need not solely concentrate on crops such as those above. Crops for bees and birds are also essential, if pollination, seed distribution and fertilization are to take place without human labour. For that, a concentrated reintroduction of grazed-down native thistles, would be a good start.

 

Cirisium Undulatum, Wavy-leaved Thistle

Thistles want to grow here. Here is a colony of scotch thistle…

… poisoned this spring under government orders to protect the grazing values of hillsides such as this …

In Colonial Society, this land is called a farm.

No, it is a mine. It mined ecological value, and is now a tailing field. So it is in a culture that started with a gold rush.

…which has virtually no grazing value of any kind.The grazing value was actually in the thistles!

Currently, wild bees are in crisis, wandering off the droughted, flowerless grasslands to access flowers in such places as my wildflower garden, which are rapidly disappearing, due to government recommendations to remove vegetation on private land, to conserve water. Soon, they will have nowhere to go, while their European cousins, the honeybees, are dying off because of high tech, nicotine-based insecticides sprayed on industrial farms. These are problems that a rejuvenated grassland could help solve. There would also be winter seed for birds, where this year there is none. We are facing a starvation winter that does not need to be. This is an interwoven grassland, which will provide most of the labour if we set it up and work to maintain its balance.

 

It would be naive to think that the class of property owners within Canada would relinquish the real social value of their private property rights in order to allow open community foraging on their land, and it is probably equally unlikely to expect that they would hire individuals to walk great distances daily over irregular terrain, in order to harvest a crop, such as asparagus, growing within the interwoven ecology of reclaimed syilx grasslands. However, there are practical ways forward. A burn can get things started.

9 Months After the Fire

It has the advantage of eliminating a great subsidy that communities pay to private land owners: their overgrazed, overgrown sagebrush and weed lands along city margins provide a huge fire risk.

Spot the Bear Trying to Blend In

Should fire come, it will be the communities that pay the price of damage, and pay the cost of fighting the fires. That is a massive subsidy. Levying environmental charges against landowners who cover their land in explosive weeds would be a start.

There are, however, many ways, other than prescriptive fire and penalizing levies, for providing benefit to landowners for a retreat from the industrial land-mining called farming. For one, there is a model from Germany, where land is valued. Take a look at an egg-and-bison (yes!) farm north of Lake Constance:

Hönig-Hof

The upper building is a new chicken barn. To get permission to remove agricultural land from production, the farmer was asked to provide an equal amount of land restoring lost ecological values to the district. He chose to plant the two hectare field inside the corner formed by the approach of the driveway to his larger set of buildings (hen house and packing facility) in wildflowers. He receives no payment for this, other than what he can earn from his eggs. Switzerland does it a little differently, providing subsidies of many different kinds, for such varied ecological values as bird habitat (old apple orchards rather than new ones), wild flowers (fenced off areas of pasture, off limits to grazing and cattle), and so on. We could enact legislation of a similar kind, tailored to meet our needs. What’s more, there’s this:

That’s traditional European farming applied to this land, with its corollary soil degradation. This method of farming allows for efficient machine access, in large unified planes. However, there’s also this…

That’s a shared coyote, snake, porcupine, deer and bear trail up a dry creekbed. Rather than being a plane removed from an interwoven environment, it is a line through it, allowing easy access to varied environments left and right, up and down slope. We could use this model to create access pathways, of use to all who use the hillsides, but making foraging efficient in a new agricultural model. And that’s just for starters. We can do this. If we don’t, we will die. The fence below?

It’s only for people. We can make such violent forms of social interaction unnecessary. And that’s just the start.

Hidden Water in a Year of Drought

In a year of stress, everyone, from those ants to the right to the leaf miner that left its trail in this cottonwood leaf, is mining the last pools of spring water for life. Deciduous tree behaviour doesn’t just benefit trees. It stores large amounts of water, builds protected environments, and maintains them with deep, underground water through the heat. Without this so-called inefficiency, the land would burn to a crisp, even the fire-adapted grasses, native and feral together, below.

String Theory and Black Holes in the Summer of Smoke

There is a way of increasing the effects of gravity. Here is a picture of the string theory of contemporary physics, out of the laboratory and in the real world.

Call it the black hole effect, if you like. Physicists weren’t the first to work out its possibilities.

But the weavers were. Anyone who enters their gravity wells find themselves moving slowly. Gravity for them is quadrupled, if not more.

Every event horizon has its mistress.

 

And its beauty.

In a year without birds, the managers of the universe, driven away by our drought and our fires, these systems proliferate.

The Earth returns. The web below is an image of her gravity, made into a living thing.

That’s the kind of place it is. Simple as that.

Gymnasts in the Lavender

Oh, hello.
It’s a thing. With legs like hers (she is, let’s say, about 7 centimetres from tip to tip ), you can jump from twig to twig, in three dimensional space. It’s not like a bee in the flowers, though. This is hunting.

There were four in this bush, hunting together. So, here’s the thing: there are regulations for protecting indigenous landscapes, for the planting of bunchgrasses, mostly. These improvements are welcome, especially in disturbed lands in housing developments, but when the mule deer are locked into them and eat all the wild flowers down to their roots, and it gets on the middle of August, the place is close to a desert. Planting lavender and  Russian sage helps, so does the dill in my garden, not to mention a bit of queen anne’s lace and some red orach, while we sort out how to make deer corridors, hack down the sagebrush, and replant the wild flowers, especially thistles and all the species  that used to grow along the borders of valley bottom wetlands that are no more. Our wetlands are our houses now. The survival of wasps, like these beautiful gymnasts, is up to us. “Wildness” does not come into question. That’s just White thinking, and we don’t need that any more. Or maybe just some wild lettuce. We could manage that.

Or just some smokebush. Look at this tiny wasp below. She likes smokebush.

And, hey, smokebush, that’s a pharmaceutical plant. We could do our lungs some good at the same time.

Juvenile Stars About to Leave the Nesting Colony

They are still being born.

They are countless and perfect.

Born from suns themselves.

At home in the complex interstellar environment.

And now they are leaving home.

Soon they will drift on the interstellar winds.

Among supernovae.

Through solar flares.

Among nebulae…

… and star clusters of all kinds.

It is the season for floating to the far corners of the universe.

… and beginning again.

The universe doesn’t extend.

It deepens and curves.

Flittering Beauty

You know, swallowtails are striped so pretty. It makes for camouflage, when you’re in among the leaves… but is that really the whole deal? Have a look …

It’s a motion blur! The wings are separating into many wings, but only in motion.

That’s how to vanish in plain sight!

Gorgeous. It’s a “mind” carefully calibrated to bring butterfly and bird together into the same ladder of light.

Look at that tail. It has become a wing looked at on edge.

Now, that’s beautiful, given how they flitter and all.

Gorgeous beings!

Island in a Grassland Sea

p1500421Rocks are one of the richest grassland environments. They turn bodies of heat into surfaces and surfaces of heat into bodies. They turn winter into spring, spring into summer, and low into high. We would do well to plant rocks. Planting the right ones would take place of much technology. Plus, fun work, right?

Ancient Waves Live On

These drainage waves were formed 10,000 years ago when a lake as large as a sea filling the valley below my house drained in half a day. They are still catching sun and water, in the forms of heat and cold..p1480024

In other words, the lake is still alive. It only seems so long ago because of our individual life times and generational change… but it’s still that moment long ago. Wondrous!