In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand,
we will understand only what we are taught.”-- Senegalese proverb
Another year, more resolutions, more wrinkles, more waistline, less hair … you know.They’re all just markers of age, signs of time.I’ve even begun to feel it in my working life as an environmental planner.I don’t make those graceful leaps over fallen logs in the woods or those effortless stream crossings as in days of yore.My mind must be better though, I haven’t done anything to hurt myself (at least too badly) this year.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my office.Not the desk and computer, bricks and mortar office, but my field office … ‘the great outdoors,’ Southeastern Massachusetts.
We’re blessed with an abundance of unique natural resources.Our coastlines, forests, rivers, fisheries, and wildlife all add to the appeal of our region.All too often we take our environmental assets for granted, assuming that nature can withstand anything that we throw at it, in it, or on it.But if we neglect or ignore our environment, we risk losing part of what defines both the region and the South Coast in particular.
How can we help to promote public awareness, and sound stewardship of our resources?
“Never doubt that a handful of committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”-- Margaret Mead
Well, over the course of my two plus decades here, scores of people and organizations have worked extremely hard to Save the Bay, Save the Taunton River, Save the Farm, Save the Pasky (the Paskamansett River in Dartmouth), Daylight the Quequechan (Fall River), and many other of our special resources; great work, great causes, and often, great bumper stickers.
Problem is, lots of folks, both locally and regionally, don’t know (and if you follow the Senegalese proverb above), don’t understand, or love these gems of the South Coast because they don’t know when they cross paths in the landscape.A bumper sticker may lead me to the internet (maybe), or just a parking lot somewhere. The beloved resource has to become part of the daily landscape, part of the family, part of the geography of one’s life.
The Taunton River Stewardship Council, locally appointed (by their cities and towns) guardians of the federally designated Wild and Scenic Taunton River, had been wrestling with this recognition issue for the past couple of years.
Anonymity was a particular problem for the Taunton’s various tributaries, those rivers and streams that are so important to the ecological whole. Indeed, as the largest contributor of fresh water to Narragansett/Mount Hope Bay, the Taunton River is critical to the various life stages of the fish and invertebrate population, including two species of river herring, winter flounder, American oyster, soft-shell clam, American eel, Quahog, and Atlantic sturgeon.
The viability of the fishery and its supporting habitat is highly dependent upon the river system, including these significant tributaries, and estuary functioning properly as an intact, interdependent ecosystem.Save the Taunton, Save the Bay, Save the Fishery … it’s all linked!
Well, this handful of committed people has come up with a way to let you know where you are, what you should conserve, and hopefully, why you should love it once you become familiar with it.Signs.Wild and Scenic River signs.Not just for the mainstem Taunton River, but for those underappreciated tributaries which are so important to our ecological health and well-being.
These signs are uniquely designed to stand out in the landscape, and, I’ve been told by those who have seen me prepare them for delivery to their local stewards, extremely attractive; something that calls attention to location, but work with the landscape.
The signs will be placed at the traditional road crossings and bridges, as well as at community waterfront parks and river access points (in some instances, replacing older green or brown highway signs) in the coming weeks and months.
The signs will be put up by Stewardship Council members working with their cities and towns.Hopefully, when biking, walking, or driving over one of these tributaries, you’ll take a moment to notice the sign, the landscape around it, and think about the geography and ecology of your life.
The Old Wisdom
Perhaps you’ll even think about the stewardship of this resource and how you can join a handful of committed people to help change the perception of this little part of the world.
So, learn about the Chuchemuchnits River (Berkley), understand the Assonet (Freetown), and love Labor-in-Vain Brook (Somerset)!Explore your neighborhood. Find these waterways. Make them part of the family … they’re already part of your home.
“By preserving this river and its shoreline, we honor the Land,
and its future will now be very different”-- Spirit Fox