November 24, 2008

The recent weeks have seen a flurry of environmental responsibility that I haven’t helped with in the least. My farming partner has invested his time and resources into a project with the local resource conservation district. A creek that has a dry bed the vast majority of the time runs through the land where he lives, and is undergoing a major overhaul.

In the past, anytime it rained, rivulets to torrents of water would rush down into this sunken area, cutting swaths in the streambank and carrying away lots of soil. Previous occupants of the land in days gone by had used this area as a dump for unwanted concrete rubble. Between the erosion and the junk, major areas of the streambanks were an ugly eyesore. The overall effect had a lot in common with Malakoff Diggins State Park, but with none of the charm.  So the project involves the stabilization of all the strembanks, and the re-channeling of water that will run into the stream during rains. Also, a sustainable stream crossing is being installed, one that allows for vehicle traffic but cannot wash away or erode. This entails the ingenious use of a honeycomb like plastic material that expands. It is filled in with gravel to anchor it in place, and then topped with coarser rock. By the time everything is in place, the plastic "holds" the rock so that nothing can budge even during the occasional floods of winter.

So in the past weeks, after all the zillions of permits and paperwork and agencies and who knows what else were appeased, truckloads of rock began showing up. I had no idea rock came in quite so many grades. There were little pebbles, and not so little rocks, large rocks, and stuff called "quarter ton", which looks a lot like small boulders. There were backhoes and big front loaders and lots of people moving rock everywhere. It is exciting to think that what used to be an ugly area can now hold more native plants and beautiful flowers. I think it’s a credit to the farmers that wisely choose to invest in the future by participating in activities designed to preserve and enrich their land. In the months to come that habitat will be able to support beneficial insects, native pollinators, as well as our own honey bees.