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The Jetson Effect   Recently updated !

The Jetson family wave as they fly past buildings in space in their spaceship in a still from the animated television series, 'The Jetsons,' circa 1962. (Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images)

The Jetson family wave as they fly past buildings in space in their spaceship in a still from the animated television series, ‘The Jetsons,’ circa 1962. (Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images)

Remember the Jetsons cartoon show?  You might recall their sleek modern world of shiny towers and advanced technology.  The Jetsons seldom walked; they rode on moving walkways.  They travelled in air-borne hover cars, called people on interactive video phones, used electric toothbrushes, robots and push-button devices.  Nobody on the Jetsons show ever exerted themselves physically, nor did they spend time in nature.

Have we have become the Jetsons?  You could make a compelling case that we have.  We now possess cell phones, flat screen TVs, push-button appliances of many kinds, interactive devices upon which we make requests of robots with names like “Siri” and “Alexa.” We travel on moving walkways at airports and at some public places.  We even have hoverboards and Segways to reduce walking.

P1130765Recently I was birding at Juanita Bay Park on the shore of Lake Washington. It features board walks that allow visitors to reach the lake front and several marshes on their edges.  On this particular mid-February day, I saw 30 species in an hour, including seven Trumpeter Swans.  What an inspiring combination of birds, lake views, sunshine and fresh air!

Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal at Juanita BayOn one of the board walk segments, I had just been looking through my scope at Wood Ducks and Green-winged Teal, their brilliant colors illuminated by sunlight, when I turned around to face a young girl riding a two-wheeled electronic hoverboard.  Her parents apologized, realizing that this was not the best place for such a device, and we all moved on.

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Signs banning hovercraft, Segways or drones don’t exist yet in most parks and natural areas

The experience struck me as odd and inappropriate.  Why was this young girl, 7-10 years in age, not walking?  I knew she could because I saw her taking turns with her brother on the hoverboard while the other walked.  Meanwhile here I was, a guy in his mid-60s, walking two miles with arthritic knees.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Later, the young hoverboard rider passed me again.  I called her over to show her the Trumpeter Swans elegantly preening in the sunshine along the lake shore.  She rode over, took a look, smiled slightly and rode off.Juanita Bay 002

We need a different vision than the one the Jetsons offered: one where the people are active, healthy, and more relaxed because they spend time in nature.  And one which allows nature to exist.  It’s time to jettison the Jetson“vision.”

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Hey Smartphone Addicts: Look Up!

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Shockingly,  adults spend up to ten hours a day consuming electronic media. Nearly a fourth of teenagers are “almost constantly” online.  What do these trends tell us about people today?  That we are nearly oblivious to the environment we live in and our fellow humans.

Adam Popescu’s recent NY Times story Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods https://nyti.ms/2GhizKz  struck a chord.  His title statement should be painfully (as in neck pain) obvious to anyone who is not looking at their phone and sees instead legions of phone zombies.

Among the lowlights of this informative piece:

  • “The problem of looking at our devices nonstop is both social and pysiological.”
  • “Text neck is becoming a medical issue that countless people suffer from…”
  • “That always-on behavior that smart phones contribute to causes us to remove ourselves from our reality…”
  • “We’re missing a whole life happening a mere 90 degrees above our smartphones.  Start looking up.”

Several years ago, I wrote the book Look Up! Birds and Other Natural Wonders Just Outside Your Window that specifically addresses his last point http://conservationcatalyst.org/look-up/  It includes the essay “Zombies Walking Amok” that describes the perils and missed opportunities inherent in cell phone addiction.

Look Up! Cover

Noticing nature and as Popescu says “actual human beings in the flesh” should take precedence over our hand-held devices.  Our necks, our souls and our relationships with people and nature stand to benefit by looking up.  As I said in my book “Zombies, throw off your technological shackles!  Try something else extraordinary that is free.  Look up and engage your senses.  You might like it”


Conservation in a Time of Greed

Capabyra with C. Tyrant

Capabyra with Cattle Tyrant on top, Ibera Wetlands

In my book Look Up! Birds and Other National Wonders, I wrote about Doug and Kris Tompkins, a visionary couple who invested their time, expertise and money to create a new national park in Argentina to protect Ibera – the second-largest wetland on earth.This project was only one of many conservation successes the Tompkins and their organization have achieved in South America.

Scarlet-headed B Bird

My essay entitled Ibera: Wet Wonder of the World was inspired by a visit to this incredible place that my wife Lori, daughter Audrey and I made five years ago.  We can attest from our travels to many outstanding natural areas around the world, that Ibera Wetlands has astonishing biological diversity.  For example, traveling one day primarily by foot and by boat we encountered more than 120 species of birds.  In addition to the birds, there were a multitude of other species including, reptiles, fish and plants.

Better still Jabiru

Jabiru on nest, Ibera Wetlands, Argentina

Yesterday I was pleased to see in the New York Times travel section that the Tompkins had also protected a large swath of the “the Route of Parks, Chile – A gloriously scenic network of Patagonian parks.”  Nora Walsh of the NY Times Travel section wrote about the Tompkins and the spectacular places they saved:

“This year, Chile’s Route of Parks will be official thanks to a conservation accord between Tompkins Conservation and the Chilean government, which together donated 11 million acres of Patagonian parkland to be preserved as five new and three extended national parks.  The 1,500 – mile designated adventure trail will connect a network of 17 national parks – from the Lake District to the Beagle Channel, winding through Patagonia’s primordial forests, snow-capped volcanoes and wild coastline.”

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This breathtaking example of conservation stands in stark contrast to what is currently happening in our country under the current political regime, which could be characterized by two rock song titles: “Take the Money and Run” and “Get it While You Can.”  The Tompkins, who built two successful companies, understood the value of safeguarding our natural heritage.  Doug Tompkins sadly passed away three years ago in a kayaking accident.  His remarkable story, as well as his wife’s ongoing efforts to continue his and her conservation legacy, are chronicled in the short yet powerful film:  Douglas Tompkins: A Wild Legacy http://www.tompkinsconservation.org/video/index.htm

Kris and Doug Tompkins

Kris and Doug Tompkins

Examples like these should encourage more of us to think about future generations; to make the world a better place for our kids and grandkids; to be good stewards instead of greedy, short-term exploiters of the earth.  In the words of one of our best conservationists, a republican president: The nation behaves well if it treats its natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.”

Theodore Roosevelt

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Daughter Audrey, wife Lori and me –  Torres del Paine National Park, Chile


Winter Birds Combat Winter Blues

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Tools of the Trade

What natural wonders could possibly await on a cold, foggy winter morning?  Who in their right mind would want to go outside in these conditions?

If you do brave the elements at this time of year, it may seem at first as if no birds are present.  Instead of birds you might hear sounds ranging from electronic car beeps to the droning of leaf blowers.  But wait:  settle in, sip your coffee, take a deep breath.  Good things happen to those who wait.  Waiting and being quiet are not things we are taught in our noisy, busy-body culture but can be therapeutic.

This morning when I ventured out, a Pileated Woodpecker flapped through the mist and perched on a nearby utility pole, its red crest a beacon in the fog.  Due to the proximity of our yard to a larger forested area with standing snags, we see these majestic birds often.

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Pileated Woodpecker in the fog

Then came a mixed flock of other species:  Dark-eyed Juncos, Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches accompanied by a few Spotted Towhees and Song Sparrows.  Each species has its own way of feeding.  The Towhees rake and the Chickadees take one seed at a time from a feeder and fly off to crack the shell and eat it on a nearby tree branch.  The mixed flock feeds and vocalizes together, giving warning when a predator like a Cooper’s Hawk, Merlin or house cat comes by.

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Song Sparrow emerges from brush

 

 

As I tried to photograph them, two Anna’s Hummingbirds buzzed my left ear.  They landed in a small tree and glared at one-another only a foot apart.  Then they rocketed off together chattering in urgent squeaky tones before I could snap a shot.  So I took one perched on a feeder instead.

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Female Anna’s Hummingbird commands feeder

In a 20-minute span, 15 species of birds graced our yard with their colors, athleticism, vocal variety and unending curiosity.  They are here because we and others before us left ample habitat for them.  Having bird feeders and a bird bath also helped “chum them in.”

During this quiet time, the world’s problems fade.  Positive thoughts and ideas come to the forefront.  Inspiration prevails, cynicism gains no traction. It is true that simple pleasures like these are the best.  They are available to all of us.  No apps necessary; just your five senses, warm clothes, a warm drink, and a pair of binoculars.

My List:

Yard, King, Washington, US
Dec 4, 2017 8:00 AM – 8:20b AM
Protocol: Area
0.01 ac
Comments:     Foggy, calm – 38 degrees
15 speciesAnna’s Hummingbird  3
Northern Flicker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  1
American Crow  6
Black-capped Chickadee  4
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  1

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Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  1
European Starling  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Dark-eyed Junco  14
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  2
House Finch  2
Pine Siskin  4


Much More Than ‘Just Another Pretty Place’

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Lake Whatcom

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Washington state lies beautiful, glacially-carved Lake Whatcom. The name derives from the Lummi Indian word for loud water – perhaps a reference to Whatcom Falls near the southwest outlet of the lake.  It is a pretty lake, but its beauty is definitely not skin deep.  The reasons for safeguarding natural assets like this lake go far beyond aesthetics.  They include our health, economy, recreation and our very survival.

Lake Whatcom WATERSHED SIGN.Approaching the lake from the southwest, I noticed an “entering Lake Whatcom watershed” road sign – an encouraging nod to stewardship. Continuing north and east, I arrived at Lake Whatcom Park.

P1120197As I began hiking the Hertz trail, on the former the Bellingham and Eastern railroad right-of-way along the lake’s north shore, I was hit by an intoxicating waft of fresh air.  The aroma was a delicious blend emanating from the lake water, cedar boughs, and ripe wild berries.  I inhaled deeply, realizing that this kind of air cannot be found everywhere. Then I walked on through the Douglas Fir/Western Hemlock/Western Red Cedar forest with Big-leaf and Vine Maples showing fall colors.

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American Dipper

A Red-breasted Sapsucker tapped softly, a Pacific Wren chattered in short staccato bursts.  A Douglas Squirrel sounded its alarm call, and an American Dipper plied the shoreline, occasionally hopping up on a rock to survey the watery scene. Then a Peregrine Falcon flew across the lake clutching its prey, periodically shrieking as it returned to its perch atop a Douglas Fir.

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Peregrine Falcon

All of these wildlife encounters made me appreciate those who successfully protected large swaths of land on both shores of the lake.  A primary driver for these collective efforts is that the lake provides drinking water for more than 100,000 residents of Whatcom County, including 85,000 who live nearby in Bellingham.

This ten-mile long, one-mile wide lake, with depths up to 350 feet, has 13 species of fish including Kokanee Salmon and Coastal Cutthroat Trout.  People boat, swim and fish in its waters, and they bike and hike along its shores.  It is a recreational mecca for the same people who drink its water.

P1120169Lake Whatcom is not without its problems.  Invasive species such as Zebra Mussel, Asian Carp and Eurasian Water Millfoil have found their way into its waters.  And the water has had pollution problems leading to the state Department of Ecology declaring in 1998 that the lake had too much phosphorus and fecal bacteria and needed to reduce the levels of both of these contaminants.

P1120204In response, the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County took action to address the pollution issues. Among the measures they adopted were storm water improvement projects, removal of some pavement and lawns, and the addition of rain gardens and native landscaping to filter storm water.

P1120162Through the acquisition of State Forest Lands and park lands, Whatcom County has protected more than 9,000 acres of Lake Whatcom’s watershed.  As the County Parks and Recreation Department notes “These large tracts of undeveloped land currently provide valuable wildlife habitat and watershed protection.  They can also provide unique non-motorized recreation opportunities minutes from the majority of Whatcom County residents.”

P1120125Another major benefit of protecting the watershed is that it facilitates increased physical activity and time spent outdoors in a beautiful natural setting.  This in turn improves our physical and mental health.  Evidence of this was all around me on the two lovely mornings I recently spent at Lake Whatcom Park.  Only one out of the 60 people I encountered did not smile, say hello and/or ask if I had seen any interesting birds or wildlife (I carry binoculars and a camera).  The one outlier was a young guy with head phones on running for exercise at a brisk pace.  He too chose this place to recreate, perhaps for its beauty.

BE Active Bicycling

Photo from Bellingham City website

By saving nature, we are really saving ourselves and our quality of life.  In the words of Gaylord Nelson, late Wisconsin Governor, Senator and co-founder of Earth Day: “The challenges to all societies in all countries of the world is to forge an environmentally, economically sustainable society. The economy is –totally dependent on the resource base, and the way I would put it is the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.”


Record Numbers Visit National Parks, So Why Cut Parks Funding?

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This American Dipper and tourists toughed out early Yellowstone snow storms last week

On a tour I led recently in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, it alternately snowed and rained for five consecutive days.  Despite the inclement weather, Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks were busy, hotels and restaurants were full, and the gateway city of Jackson, Wyoming had traffic jams.  Busloads of tourists from the U.S. and other countries descended upon the parks. There were long lines at restaurants, bathrooms (National Parks need more of these), and at park entrances.  Like us, these tourists came to experience the exquisite beauty, wildlife, geology and fall colors in these iconic Parks.

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Our experience was indicative of the upward trend in national park visitation.  Last year (2016) was a record-breaking year for visiting national parks.  A total of 330 million people visited them, a 7 percent increase from the previous year.  Visitation records were broken in many national parks this year, including these new highs:

  • Smoky Mountain NP – 11 million
  • Grand Canyon NP – 6 million
  • Yosemite NP – 5 million
  • Yellowstone NP – 4.2 million

While Americans are voting with their hearts and their feet in support of our national park system, AKA “America’s Best Idea”, the current administration wants to cut funding for national parks by 12%.  Why?p1060442

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” – Wallace Stegner, author

BB17 - Woody and Lori at the big bend in the Rio Greande SKPAIMG_7049

Build a wall through Big Bend National Park?What a terrible idea!  (Rio Grande River and Mexico on the other side behind Lori and me)

There is no rational explanation for this funding cut.  Demand for National Parks is at a historic high. The economy is strong, the stock market is robust, unemployment is down.  It is all about politics and priorities.  This administration would rather build a wall in front of Mexico, and right through Big Bend National Park, than it would steward what truly makes America great – it’s national parks

According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the proposed reduced budget would lead to the loss of 1,242 FTE staff, $30 million in cuts to deferred maintenance projects of which there are a total of $11 billion in pending projects, closed facilities including campgrounds, and reduced services.  It makes absolutely no sense to do this at a time when park visitation is growing.  We should be doing the exact opposite.

Here is what John Gardner, Director of Budget and Appropriations for National Parks Conservation Association said about the proposed cuts:

“The Administration’s proposed budget is a non-starter for our national parks, our environment, and our cultural heritage, and should be dead on arrival in Congress. Agencies like the National Park Service and EPA cannot take care of our treasured landscapes and historical landmarks with further cuts to what are already shoestring budgets.”

There is a massive disconnect here between what Americans cherish, and what those in power are promoting.  Democracy is not at play here; instead, the power of resource extraction industries is.

Ryan Zinke, the current head of Department of Interior fancies himself a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist.  He therefore should be proposing a budget that supports conservation of the public lands he manages.  Instead, he has been trying to undo the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt, the father of our public lands.

Zinke is a fox guarding the hen house and a shill for the oil and gas industry.  He and his cronies want to exploit public lands for short-term profits, plain and simple.  Currently, he is presiding over his agencies’ proposed budget cuts and has recommended shrinking at least four national monuments to make more lands available to  oil, gas, mineral extraction, grazing and logging.  This, in spite of the fact that 98% of public comments received on his national monument review process favored their expansion and preservation.

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Olympic National Park — formerly a national monument

National Parks often start as national monuments.  Olympic National Park was first a national monument created by Teddy Roosevelt before it eventually became a national park formalized by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Just as  Zinke mismanages public lands, he also mismanages public funds. On June 6th, he and his staffers flew a chartered plane from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Montana near Zinke’s home in Whitefish, Montana. This flight cost U.S. taxpayers $12,735.   Zinke should pay this amount in a fine earmarked to Yellowstone Park toward the installation of one public bathroom at Artist Point overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Then he will have done at least one good thing for our national park system.

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Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – a gorgeous place with too few  restrooms

Far beyond this, he needs to steward responsibly the magnificent system of public lands that we inherited from Teddy Roosevelt, a republican, and others after him.  Your job, Secretary Zinke, is to tend, not give away the farm.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Fund our beloved national parks!  Teddy’s ghost is watching you.

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Grand Teton National Park at Oxbow Bend of the Snake River

“Here is your country.  Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children.  Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.

-Theodore Roosevelt


Keep Public Lands Public

Public Lands Public Image

Why does the current Administration want to reduce public lands at a time when Americans are flocking to them in record numbers?

The love of public lands is particularly strong in the west where 93 percent of Western voters have visited national parks, national forests, or other public lands within the last year.  “The overwhelming majority of Westerners view the national forests and other public lands they use as American places that are a shared inheritance and a shared responsibility. Rather than supporting land transfer proposals, voters say their top priorities are to ensure public lands are protected for future generations and that the rangers and land managers have the resources they need to do their jobs.” — Dave Metz, president FM3

Americans continue to show their love for our public lands by flocking to national parks in record numbers.  According to a recent AP article “Overall more than 330 million people visited U.S. national parks in 2016, a record.” – Zion National Park alone had 4.3 million; Yellowstone had 4.1 million visitors and Great Smoky National Park had a whopping 11.3 million visitors, also a record.

Further, the Center for Western Priorities analyzed a random sample of the 654,197 public comments posted as of Monday morning, July 24, 2017 regarding the proposed rollback of national monuments. A huge majority (98 percent) of the comments expressed support for keeping or expanding national monument designations.  Only one percent requested that we attempt to shrink or erase monument boundaries.

Public Lands Poll

There should be no further discussion about compromising public lands.  They are off the table.  Public lands are already protected in perpetuity for the benefit of the American people.  As Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, pointed out, the president has no legal authority to rescind or shrink a monument designation.IMG_4634

Public lands belong to all of us; not just to the relative few disgruntled neighbors who seem to be receiving a disproportionate share of this administration’s attention.  The Mt. St. Helens National Monument that I visited last month, for example, belongs to people who live on the east coast as much as it does those of us who are fortunate to live nearby.  The same is true of Hanford Reach and all other national monuments.  Every American is a public land owner

Mt. St. Helens National Monument

Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington

As a natural history tour guide, public lands are our top destinations.  Tourism is a major industry for many states, including ours.

Public lands are sacred places that enshrine our human and natural history.  They are places to recreate and to seek solace.  We value them and expect them to be protected for future generations; not desecrated for short-term gain.  Sally Jewell, former Department of the Interior Secretary said it clearly: Any move to eliminate or shrink monuments would put the president “on the wrong side of history.”  


Anna’s World Revisited   Recently updated !

Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle recently published this enhanced version of my essay about Anna’s Hummingbirds entitled Anna’s World :

http://conservationcatalyst.org/blog/

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Incredibly, Our Public Lands Are Under Assault

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Pompey’s Pillar National  Mounument, Montana

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Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington

It is astounding that I even had to write the piece below to defend our public lands, but such are the times we find ourselves in today. The current U.S. political administration wants to rescind more than two dozen national monuments.  These are places that had already been “saved” for present and future generations.

I encourage all of you who care about public lands to make your opinions known:  https://legal-planet.org/2017/05/10/public-lands-watch-comment-period-on-national-monuments/

Otherwise, as Joni Mitchell  said in her song lyric: “you won’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

 

My letter to the Department of Interior:

One of the things I am most proud and patriotic about is our public lands. Public lands are our sacred lands. They are our most important natural, cultural and historical places. Conceived by Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot for the benefit of all, they represent a profoundly forward-thinking approach. It speaks well of us when we seek to protect our public lands; it speaks poorly of us when we seek to destroy them for short-term economic gain.

We were all horrified when we heard about ISIS intentionally destroying historic and religious landmarks in Syria. Now our administration proposes to do the same in the name of quick cash for oil, gas and mining.

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Vermilion Cliffs National Monument – photo by Arizona Highways

I visit on average more than 25 different public lands per year. My livelihood depends upon them. So too do the economies of most western states that have tourism as one of their top industries. Millions of Americans who hunt, fish, hike, ski, bird-watch, bicycle, ride trails on motorized vehicles, botanize, study geology, learn about our history and culture, honor their relatives or just get away to enjoy the peaceful, beautiful places we are blessed to have — all cherish our public lands. I lead tours for groups of Americans as well as people from other countries who come here to see our amazing public lands. They are in awe of them and inspired by our enlightened efforts to safeguard them.

As Montana-based author Rick Bass said: “These lands are our outdoor churches, our cathedrals — and keeping them that way is the real economic foundation of the West. Open spaces attract new, high-paying industries and yield billions of dollars in tourism and recreation. When we are young, we hunt, hike, fish, camp, backpack, paddle, horseback ride, walk, run, raft and bicycle on our shared lands, and when we are old we stare out at their undiminished beauty.”

Brown's Canyon

I am completely opposed to any effort to compromise our public lands. Public lands are American birth rights. They make our country special and are the envy of the world. We need to conserve not destroy them.

“Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.” Teddy Roosevelt


RX for Life: Go Outside More Often

Feeling glum, listless, low on energy and/or ideas? You might be suffering from “nature-deficit-disorder” as Richard Louv called it, or from an “epidemic dislocation from the outdoors” as Florence Williams refers to it in her new book.

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My wife, Lori enjoying a walk in our neighborhood park

Here’s a simple remedy: Take one 15-20 minute dose of walking through a park, natural area or other green space in your neighborhood daily and you will feel better.  Does this sound too good to be true?  Not according to Williams’ new book The Nature Fix – Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.

Jason Mark wrote in his recent New York Times review of this book: “Imagine a miracle drug that could ease many of the stresses of modern life – a combination mood enhancer and smart pill that might even encourage the remission of cancer.  Now imagine that this cure-all was an old-fashioned folk remedy: Just take a hike in the woods or a walk in the park.  No prescription necessary.”

Although I have not read this book yet (I will), the title rings true. My book Look Up! Birds and Other Natural Wonders Just Outside Your Window http://conservationcatalyst.org/look-up/ preaches the same gospel.

I practiced what Williams and I both preach today. It was a cold, rainy, dreary day here in Seattle.  I had been preparing for upcoming tours and classes when the rain finally broke near dusk.  I threw on my coat and hustled outside for a short walk in the remaining light.  I was glad that I did.

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Ravenna Park bike and pedestrian bridge

In the course of my 20 minute walk through Ravenna Park, along a tree-lined boulevard designed by the Olmsted Brothers, and back through a historic neighborhood to my house, I encountered multiple sensations that made this gray day brighter.

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Pacific Wren

While crossing the pedestrian and bicycle-only bridge that spans Ravenna Park, I heard the full song of a Pacific Wren sung several times.  This is no ordinary tune.  It is the longest bird song in North America, with a trilling assortment of 40+ notes. The singer is a bird that only weighs 4 ounces. This was a virtuoso performance and an harbinger of spring.

Another sign of spring was just around the corner: a blooming Pieris Shrub .  A cloud of its sweet fragrance filled the air.

As I circled back home through a neighborhood of well-maintained historic wood homes with quirky and artistic statements scattered about, I P1080163came across a yard filled with little ceramic figurines.  It looked as if they were swarming to an event of some sort. I grinned in appreciation of this whimsical artistic statement.

Dusk was falling as my stroll came to a close.  It brought a bit of magic into the day along with relaxation and exercise.  It helped me gain perspective and find joy during a time when the dark days have not only been due to the weather.

As Jason Mark pointed out in his review “Fortunately, getting a dose of nature doesn’t have to be hard.  Most people get a lot of benefit fromravenna forest city parks and as little as five hours a month does the trick.”

This is one of the great secrets in life, yet many never discover it.  And it is free. The more you do it, the more you gain appreciation for what there is to see, smell, hear and discover.  You get ideas, you find inspiration, you become calmer and happier.  It works.