In my Naturalist classes we learned that there is virtually no such thing as a pristine acre in the entire state of Missouri. Man has touched every corner of the state, through logging, agriculture, mining, development, etc., etc. So when I talk about man made interventions like bridges, low water crossings, etc. those are just the obvious ones. Some aren’t so obvious.
One example that comes to mind is the prairie at Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit. It is a beautiful thing, but then you realize that there never was prairie there. They took a woodland savannah and turned it into a prairie, so it also is a man made intervention, albeit a beautiful intervention. Interestingly, they also erected a teepee and sod hut to demonstrate early man made interventions, in a landscape that itself is an intervention.
There are other interventions by man that are not so picturesque, nor even intended. One friendly blogger reminded me of the tailings dam break in the 70’s that made the water run red the entire length of the Big River all summer.
The thing that is truly amazing is the resilience of nature in the face of these interventions. Whether its snakes making their home in the thrown away tires we work so hard at pulling out of Missouri Rivers, or great Blue Herons wading among the plastic bottles and sports balls we pull out of Grand Glaize Creek near Simpson Lake. Nature never falters. It will outlast us all (maybe). (probably). The beavers don’t seem to be too concerned about streambank scour or dwindlng riparian corridors or 6″pvc pipes drawing water out to irrigate sod farms. They go on. They adapt. They find the spaces we don’t use.
What concerns me is that everything drains downhill. Our streams collect all our trash. You can be a modern day archaeologist on the streams. You can see what we used, what we discarded, how little we cared about the condition of a place or waterway.
Big River is a beautiful place but people did not esteem it as they should. But it is never too late. Nature hasn’t given up, even if man has. ‘IF’ is the operative word there.
My hope is that we all stop getting our exposure to nature from the Nature channel and pictures on Facebook and have the presence of mind to simply Get Outdoors. Enjoy it. Breath it. Feel it. Be it.
Ultimately, we are just one more part of nature, …one that intervenes.