By: Roy Roath SRM Director
It has been my experience that people are driven by their passions. My passion is for the land. In fact, it drives what I do, how I think, and what I am committed to. My long- term membership in SRM, and several allied organizations, are all about working with those who care deeply about the land.
There have been several recent events that have been termed disasters by many, if not most. These include – but are not limited to – several huge wildfires, volcanic eruptions, the worst winter in recent memory, and several actual or impending floods; depending on where you reside. While these seem to be worlds apart geographically and event-wise, they are all in many ways cataclysmic for the people who are effected. Their world has been changed and the losses are incalculable. We are all greatly saddened by the losses and the personal needs of those impacted.
However, the land has experienced these events before and will again. What we are reminded of is the enormous resilience of the land, even when it appears all is lost. Recently a photo appeared following the most devastating fire in North Texas in recent memory. This photo showed tiny sprigs of green arising though the field of charred black. In that moment, there shows a light of resilience and belief that it will be better! Does it erase the losses… no … but it does show that the land has the capability to recover from even great impacts. During a wildfire that burned several thousand acres in SE Colorado a few years ago, the volunteer fire chief told the ranch owners that “all was devastated” and then, in an interview with the local press, reemphasized that point. But to the contrary, the area that was burned recovered remarkably well, even in the face of a long-term drought, and now far exceeds the capability of that same land before the “devastation”.
Let us learn as members of SRM that we have knowledge to attain by watching and documenting the resilience of the land, so that next time … and there will be a next time … we can more judiciously help those who are hurting while tempering the temptations of those who want to declare that all is lost. Often, if not most times, the land can and does recover without a huge auxiliary effort on our part. Disturbance drives diversity at all temporal and spatial scales. Yes, some events are cataclysmic and change the land and landscape forever; but most systems recover when resilience was or is the original goal of management.
Let us rest in the knowledge that we may assist by giving the land a break but resist massive intervention.
Perhaps SRM can be most helpful in providing summaries of impacts and actions and recoveries from these events and then provide judicious advice to aid those who are impacted.