Vulture Medicine and the Efficacy of Valentines

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(sketch by Hurricane Bob)

“Grandfather, does the world really revolve all around me?”

Such was a question asked by a third generation grandson vulture sitting next to his wiser grandfather vulture on a cliff-side arena where they were watching potential carnage between a predator and prey show far below. “Well, yes it does, just like it does for everyone else,” grandfather vulture answered.

“But let me explain a little more,” continued Grandfather.

“To the prey you see below, his world indeed puts him in the center of survival. Nothing else matters, because if he does not reach deep inside to use every ounce of himself to escape, death will result and his world will be over.”

“In the larger scheme of things, it takes more than one animal to make a community, and it is the community that really matters because nature requires all its parts to function properly. If the earth was flat and extended into infinity, then perhaps needed resources required for life would always be possible simply by always being able to cross some far horizon to obtain it.  But the earth is round, so everything in nature works in roundness, like the way we use our wings to climb higher on the thermals. Circles are where all earth wisdom resides. Life and death is the only constant in a circle. Give and take is the process of how all things can continue to change and flow forward.”

“Light and dark exist because the earth spins in a circle as it goes around the sun, in an even larger circle. But dark doesn’t mean everything stops or doesn’t work anymore. Some animals have adjusted their patterns of living in the dark and so sleep in the light. While others make their living during the light and so sleep in the dark.”

“We vultures live by feeding off of death, as do all other animals. We just do it a little more directly. But other animals like the humans are often drawn to death just the same. Like us, they sometime gather on the banks of a river where the rapids are the most difficult, because if any boat carnage is to occur, that is the most likely place it will happen.”

“Why do they do that? What drives those disaster chasers?” asked grandson vulture.

Grandfather continued: “That curious behavior  may not have just one answer. Sometimes it is because they can temporarily escape their own problems by looking at someone else’s. Sometimes it is to relieve boredom. When nothing much different happens over and over again, it only breeds for the dullness of “sameness.” But that is uneventful and depressing. Watching things where potential for something exciting to happen brings thrilling anticipation to the blood. Wanting to know what comes next is what keeps your feathers ready for flight. And flying is doing, and that is what life is all about.”

“But, those with more wisdom conjugate at the edge of any potential carnage area to broaden their learning. By observing the mistakes of others, they can learn what not to do, so they do not repeat the same behavior. They wish to fly longer, so pay close attention to what things they can do to prolong their flight. The vultures that fly with the wings of science tell us two vultures can’t fly the exact same space at the exact same time. But those whom inevitably will try, only crash.”

“So grandson, you must always pay attention to your own flight to keep your wings working, but not forget that all other vultures have the same mission and worldview. Not paying attention to the flight of others might cause you to touch wingtip to wingtip and that could bend your feathers to cause your own crash.”

“If only your flight mattered, and you were the center of the world, all other vultures would avoid you, and that would be boring. An open heart with care for others, is what really makes all flight for all vultures more exciting and meaningful. It is what makes the world go round.”

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Happy Valentines

Barb and Gary

http://www.doryfun.com

GARY BARB HOLLY

 

 

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Romancing A River – Why Not Make the Salmon River Your Valentine for Tomorrow?

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What makes the sensuous Salmon River such a seductress among white water adventurers?  That is a large question for a large river. Perhaps the biggest reason is its curvaceous nature and sensuous excitement that waits mysteriously around each bend. 

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For any who get within range of sight or sound of this splendiferous river, its mighty pull is similar to what it was like when getting too close to the Sirens in Greek mythology.  Once nature’s spell is cast, there is no escape. It will lure you into the middle of the magic where it is hard to tell what is real or an illusion.

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Similar to what love does between people that makes them do wild and crazy things, so too does the Salmon River take you into a world beyond the rational.  Beauty comes in many shades and forms, but its power is all the same, though it can affect people quite differently.  It can take your breath away, or make you breath harder; can freeze you in the headlights like a deer, or make you dance like a happy footed penguin; make you what to scream and shout, or steal away into solitude and quiet.

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As in most relationships between two people, it is the physical attraction that first inspires that initial contact between a human and the river. In the case of the Salmon River, it is the deep emerald pools that make you want to jump in over your head, the huge riverside beaches with Hawaiian-like sands that make you want to play footsies with the shore, and grandiose canyon walls that have a labyrinthine stranglehold over your psyche.
LOWER SALMON 5 DAY

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The river makes its own rules and there is always an edge to worry.  Be it floating up to an event horizon at the top of a rapid, or standing at the brink of a  lava wall at the top of the canyon, the closer one gets to the line of demarcation the stronger the thrill.

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The premier attraction of any natural treasure is measured largely by its ensoulment to the heart. Like photographs that can never adequately capture the reality of place, neither can any words do a better job of communicating what feelings are evoked by actually being there.

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You can’t take a picture of or explain precisely what the Great Mystery really is, anymore than you can understand all the threads that weave it all together.  But you can feel and sense the mystery of it all when you immerse yourself in any natural wonder.   It is called a natural wonder because of what it makes you do.  Being enriched by nature makes you ponder everything between the far beyond and our place in the universe. Every answer to any of our wonders is most often yet another question. What else would one expect in an infinitely expanding universe?

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As we consider our place in time and space, it seems only fitting that as we humans use Valentines Day to celebrate human love,  we should also be reminded that there is a more fundamental element at work underneath it all. It is our relationship with nature that makes it all possible.

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Nature is the seedbed to everything else that happens in our world, and it is by water that the garden of our very being is nourished and grown.  This spiritual water is delivered by river, as much as blood courses through our veins.  So what better symbol of a valentine to those we love than the sensuous river of romance that flows through the heart and enriches all.

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My wife and I met on the Salmon River and were married on it, too. So it is very special to us. But, we are not the only ones to have been so influenced and seduced by this river. There are many others with similar such stories, and yet the river still lies in wait to continue working its magic spell of the sensuous over the uninitiated.

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Happy Valentines Day from Salmon River.
It doesn’t just occur on Feb 14th, it can happen anytime.

Gary & Barb Lane
www.doryfun.com
800-488-9872
or 208:628-3523 if calling by cell phone

Dear Santa – Grandfather Frost of the North Pole

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To me, it always seems a bit of an oxymoron to be an un-natural writer of natural history, always stumbling with grammar like trying to put together some complicated jig saw puzzle so the picture looks right when complete. Thus, since it is in the appropriate spirit and time of year, why not ask Santa for some new ideas and tools to make my stories easier to piece together. Oh, and perhaps some ways to help improve my guidesmanship – maybe as some sort of apprenticeship with Santa. After all, whom better to have  as a mentor for learning the delightful art of gift giving. (that is, teaching me how to be better at  opening other  people’s eyes to the gifts of nature, every where, all around).

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Dear Santa,

This time of year people are always talking about the “spirit” of the season, which is similar to other times of the year when I hear much about the spirit of this or that as it relates to the environment or human sociobiology.   So, I was wondering if you might be able to build me some sort of “spiritiscope” which would allow me and other people to see spirits.   After all,   scientists have made microscopes which allow man to see  complicated micro structures like a flies eye, and telescopes to see the vast complexities of a faraway galaxy.   The spirit of nature is often felt, and seen in terms of how things are affected by it,  but never in the raw essence of what form it takes.  That is, if it should take any form, at all. Maybe the spiritiscope could allow us to see the spirit world of many things magical. For magical thinking requires a magical instrument to see those magical things.

Many of the inventions of mankind, that have allowed us to develop  sophisticated technologies, are the result of our science and enlightenment.  Learning that the earth is not flat and that it revolves around the sun, and not the other way around, comes from science and the enlightenment that enabled it, and/or vise versa. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Circular thinking has no beginning or end.  But early on it was the things of wild nature that inspired various legacies of supernatural mythologies that often precipitated science out of the mix to give us real things to measure.   While the underlying ideas may have been written in and by the stars, for man to eventually make sense of, it was still the ability of being able to dream big dreams to be the very catalyst to turn imaginary things  into reality.

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The one thing prevalent in America is that famed ability to dream big.  Basically, as a country known as a melting pot for all people’s seeking the “American Dream,” it is important to nurture along what we dream with a dose of grounded truth.  For the real gift of nature is the inspiration it gives to people whom open their eyes to it.  When it corrals our dreams of the seemingly impossible, to the actual workings of nature, it does allow some things to manifest that at first seemed impossible. But, it is with the right ground truths in place that some of those dreams can be made possible.

In my dreams and request of you, Santa, for a brand new spiritiscope, I know it is as real as you are.  Each year you return and remind us all, no matter our age, how to believe in things we cannot see or touch, like love, which permeates through out all of nature through all life creatures.   It can be as simple as a snow flake, or as complicated as the water cycle, but it is  all those natural entanglements that inspires us at different levels to help perpetuate our appreciation for  things far greater than ourselves.  Yet, it also allows us to see how we are a part of it, while simultaneously being hitched to everyone and everything else which is inherent to the whole. Community is the foundational mechanism  upon which all relationships functions in nature, no matter the tribe, clan, or species.

So to all you folks  reading this out there in the cyberspace community, hoping your holiday is filled with good spirits. Part of my gift to you, are the following river and nature related quotes to help lift your thoughts,  inspire minds, and incite more dreams:

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“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

“The hope of the future lies not in curbing the influence of human occupancy – it is already too late for that – but in creating a better understanding of the extent of that influence and a new ethic for its governance.” – Aldo Leopold

The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills not only because of their novelty, but because they represented
complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave them their first taste of those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts which every woodsman faces daily, but against which civilization has built a thousand buffers – Aldo Leopold

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we
regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold

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“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever
since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” – Aldo Leopold

“Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf.” – Aldo Leopold

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“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to
each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” – Rachel Carson

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“ The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.”  – Rachel Carson

“First, there is the myth that ignorance is a solvable problem. Ignorance is not a solvable problem; it is rather an inexplicable  part of the human condition. We cannot comprehend the world in its entirety. The advance of knowledge always carried with it the advance of some form of ignorance.” – David Orr

Protect the Earth

“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

 “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new
experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. – Jon  Krakauer

Cheers
Gary & Barb 

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And finally, go to this link for a video that represents
the guiding spirit of Wapiti River Guides:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUQcMZLZpx8

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Ecological Cogs – What is Education For?

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River trips are more than just an engagement with the water.  Our boats are vessels  into a world full of exciting mystery where something new can be learned at every  bend.  Adventure is more than a “doing, ” it is a way of  “being.”  And we can only “be” by the “becoming” that additional knowledge helps create as we move along the course of the river.

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Here at Wapitiland, we like to think of ourselves more as navigators and facilitator for people to help expand more understanding about our natural world. An ecological education is fundamental not only for the benefit of human growth, but also to the ability of humans to live more harmoniously with everything else in the world. Why is it so important to know more about the basics?  Perhaps a few quotes and wisdom from some highly respected pillars of the academic  community are in order here:

“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a
whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”  – Aldo Leopold

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“The question is, does the educated citizen know he is only a cog in an ecological mechanism? That if he will work with that mechanism his mental wealth and his material wealth can expand indefinitely? But that if he refuses to work with it, it will ultimately grind him to dust? If education does not teach us these things, then what is education for?” – Aldo Leopold

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The other reason any kind of education is important, is because, as Mahatma Gandhi put it: “A man is but a product of his thought, what he thinks, he becomes.”  What we become determines where we go and what we stand for. And if we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything, a famous song line warns.

Closed eyes are as good as no eyes, and only leads to a blindness in the mind. So it pays to keep eyes open, so the brain can see better.  Yet, as Carl Sagan once said: “it pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”  This is why critical thinking is so important when it comes to evaluating any new material that comes before you.

So what is the cost of a good education? Well, it is far less than the cost of ignorance.  And to us in the Wapiti Clan, the real value of education is that the more you understand of nature, the more likely it is that you will help protect it. It is after all, the foundation of our home, no matter where it is.  More importantly, as Einstein warns: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”.

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One of the fundamental survival mechanisms of any biological organism is adaptation; how something adapts to a situation to increase the likelihood it will live on. So when it comes to how we deal with ecological processes of the natural environment, we might do better to question how we can become good adapters.  Or perhaps, more  appropriately, as the educator David Orr once said:  “It makes far better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants.”

What to do?  Finding truth and understanding is no easy task. This is made all the more difficult in the  massive information-swamp created by the internet and social media.  As the country with the highest rate of natural resource consumption on the planet,  comes the highest order of making responsible choices.  Like trying to find gold, you have to move a ton of dirt  just to find an ounce. Such is it to sift through the vast sea of information to find that tiny ship of facts.  Not easy, but necessary if you plan on  making a good decision.

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Even with all the facts it isn’t always easy to reach a good understanding or know which direction to lean. However, an old native tale of truth and wisdom story might most aptly apply here:

“An old Cherokee is telling his granddaughter about a fight that is going on inside himself. He said it is between two wolves. One is evil: anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.  The other is good: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The granddaughter thought about it for a minute and then asked her grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

 

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Reading about how to track a wolf , is not tracking  the wolf. You have to first go into the wilds for that.   Simply reading about nature, is just not the same as knowing it.  You have to go to know, and there is no better place to go than to the river. That is where the essence of the wild resides.  It is, as stated by the signature phrase of Sherlock Holmes fame: ” Elementary, my dear, Watson, elementary.”

“Only those who partake of the harmony within their souls know the harmony that runs through nature.”

-Paramahansa Yogananda

At least, if we are but a mere ecological cog, then why not an enlightened one should we not aspire to be. Which wolf inside, will you choose to feed?

Remember, holistic thinking sees the forest, while individual thinking sees the tree. But, you can’t have one without the other, because all ecology is a system that requires interaction between the two.  But, you have to start somewhere. Where?  One link, that’s all: www.doryfun.com  for confronting new experiences and ideas pushed  to a greater depth of appreciation.

Nature Einstein

Fair Chase and Willful Blindness

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Do Animals Really Care About Fair Chase?  Dead is dead. Only survival matters before that.  Pursuit and manner of death is only significant to those who give chase. Human killers attain value and meaning by applying ethics and morals to their own behaviors when reducing other life forms to possession.

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It is these very ethics and morals that underscore major competition for various quarry that heavily influence the bio-politcs in our halls of bureaucracy  However, on a finite planet with limited carrrying capacities, sustainability of resource extraction and unlimited growth patterns is of far more concern than bickering between myopic user groups.

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Access is the name of the game for hunters and fishermen. In the caligraphy of who gets what, when, where, and how, it is ever-more rule books and regulations to meet the rising tide of interest. It’s all math in the end.

Ground zero to determine who gets what, and by what means, is the ethics we use to promote which voice gets listened to the most.  Morals is more about what guides us  as to which species deserve to live or die, especially when it comes to the predator-prey dance.  Calibrating importance is all relative to ones’s perspective and personal history.

In the animal world, just living another day is the main law of the jungle.  Which is fastest or more cunning is the critical factor to them.  To humans, what fundamentally matters is that there is always a viable population of something to optimally maintain. Otherwise, there will be nothing left to ethicise or moralize  over.

Unfortunately, ethics is the battle-club of the various user-group gladiators when fighting for a  bite from the only resource pie in town. While the science of wildlife management is about ecology and population dynamics, distribution of the pie is more related to sociology and the politics of consumption. Basically, ethics and morals is the dominionists architecture for the Manifest Destiny of man over nature.

As a conservationist, environmentalist, or hunter concerned about ethical behavior, there is an ever-present  danger to mount a high horse of morality.  It is too easy to fall into the jaws of the “holier-than-thou” personal value trap. Such a hubris high horse throws  a mean buck  to those with little tolerance for others and ends up with an ugly landing.

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Should a rifle killed elk during the rut be listed in Pope and Young?  Do we keep or release fish? Use bait or fly, single hook or treble? Hunt with gun or bow? Trap, snare, or poison? Trophy or meat hunt?  Float in, or jet?  Go by foot, horse, or atv? Allow survellience by plane or drone?   On and on.

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How much effort we exercise in using collaboration and cooperation when competing for limited resources, will help define our behavior and what agreements we can make as we go about extraction.  Methods we use to get what we want also matters, because magnitude of impact is highy varied by which type of big stick we use.

Each carries a different potential and variance in the severity of harvest regulations and seasonal length that can result.  Animal behavior is greatly modified by human endeavors  and equity between users is thus ripe for squeaky oil favoritism and much strife.

However, while we struggle to divvy up the resource, the bigger threat is always about what happens to the habitat. Every time we lose more ground, that reduces carrying capacities and essentially the very fish and wildlife resources we wish to save.  The pie never gets any bigger.

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Preindustrial people’s had a hard time appropriating land use and often undermined their own carrying capacities because of limited knowledge and tools. We don’t have that excuse with today’s sophistication, so to deny ecological science and continue depleting resources that also escalate climate change is a blantant and wilfull blindness to the future. Nature never loses sight. Only man’s arrogance and choice of apathy does that.

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It is far better to join forces to fight for habitat, clean air and water,  and to rein in our own numbers than to squabble over fairchase and have turf wars, while the hungry lions of industry are busy consuming the land. Such action is more like rowing upstream to keep from going over a waterfall when a giant Sequoia is falling toward your backside.

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As we try to keep our boat of natural resources right side up, perhaps we should pay closer attention to our science and saddle it with a more appropriate attitude:

TIPIS

Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
http://www.doryfun.com

 

 

Two Camps On The River

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When it comes to land management and issues that pertain to the natural world, there are two primary streams of thought when considering “wise use,” of our earthly  resources.  In one camp is preservation, in the other conservation. Both have a common goal of saving natural resources. However, each has a different perspective about how much of the various  resources get  used in the process of being saved.  Preservationists wish to save an area by restricting everything except viewing, including the sport of hunting, while conservationist wish to save it while allowing sustainable levels of animal  harvest.

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When boiled down, it becomes a matter of hunting verses non-hunting.  Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to animosities and  environmental battles that can divide the two camps (hunters vs anti-hunters) that could better be served for saving more areas and wildlife in the long run, by joining forces to resist the more extractive factors that consume far more of our natural resources.  It would be a shame to lose natural resources to unlimited extraction industries, by diversions that divide and conquer. Such is the case, in a world unwilling to control its own human numbers,  that is  ever-increasing the need for yet  more consumption on a finite planet.

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Moral fights about how many animals, or any at all that might get killed  is a diversion that works against the very fundamental natural resources being fought for.  On a planet with a limited carrying capacity, ups and downs of every natural resource is the law of nature.  Predator-prey relationships is the constant life and death struggle that defines existence, or not, for any species of plant or animal on this planet. Bottom line.   There is no escape from that condition.

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The interesting thing about having two camps on any  wild  river is that each has its own special beauty. And it would behoove us to visit each camp and appreciate the good qualities inherent in both, than to ravage one or the other. If we wish to save ourselves from ourselves, the challenge it to resist entrenchment and seek enchantment. The oxymoron of real magic in the land of enchantment, is the mystery that helps keep fantasy alive.  From mysticism to science, it is the carrot that keeps both going forward in pursuit of answers to the unknowable. Dream on with feet on the ground, or we will lose the very ground we stand on.

Wise-use is in the eye of the beholder, but the final results will be judged by nature.

Butterfly