"The Last Easy Moments"
I never want my son to think that sitting on your butt listening to PolitEcol music concerts is environmentalism. Feel good fluff has it's place (I guess), but don't confuse it with improving the environment.
Change your lifestyle, volunteer at a park,plant some trees, pull some exotic plants, chunk your incandescents, car pool, ... DO SOMETHING.
The thing about actually DOING SOMETHING is it provides a sense of accomplishment and "buy in". This "buy in" is a powerfully positive thing. When I was a National Park Service Ranger, I noticed that my crew of park volunteers soon came to think of the park as "their" park. They became it's constantly vigilant protectors and gave me a whole new set of eyes to monitor and maintain the park. They were full of ideas and energy and were always willing to chip in time and sweat to improve the park.
I also believe that shared hardship builds teamwork and a sense of accomplishment, so picking the Waccasassa River as a river cleanup target for Jr. and his buddy Jonathon was an easy decision.
On an earlier trip a few weeks ago, I noticed that the Waca could use a little sprucing up. The drought lowered,clear water revealed tires, cans, and bottles on the sandy bottom. Along the shore was fishermen debris like earthworm bait containers, fishing line, and soda bottles.
There was also this ...
In Florida, to be eligible for the state scholarships, a graduate must have both the grades and 75 hours of community service time, so this seemed like a good way to add a few hours to the boys service records.
I knew they'd work. They're good boys, but I wanted them to have fun also. This is so important when you are introducing youngsters to any outdoor activity. If you want the lifelong outdoorslove bug to bite, you have to make the activity a good mix of fun and work.
Not a problem ...
He didn't fall in ... that time.
I was in the lead canoe loaded with a small ice chest of water, fruit, and fried chicken while the boys teamed up in the second canoe. I took the point while they went from bank to bank grabbing trash. I grabbed some too, but my main role was to point out things of interest like:
"Hey, I just passed over a beer can, get it when you come this way."
"Up on the bank, there's some bait containers."
"Gatorade bottle at two o'clock"
"Hey, want to see what quicksand feels like?"
"Mud boggin' trash busters"
After a while, I realized that they were spotting trash in really hard to reach places and doing whatever it took to collect it, so I backed off on the directional trash spotting. They had bought in to the challenge.
"The eye of the needle"
The portages were coming fast and furious as we pushed on farther downstream. The brown water in the above picture is from our tromping through this shallow logstrewn section. A few minutes later the current had swept the mud away and the water ran clear again.
It's important to understand that the "litter" we were cleaning up really posed very little direct threat to the environment. At the end of the day, there would be a few items (I'll show you tomorrow!) that were actual pollutants, but litter is mostly an esthetic problem. The beer bottles on the bottom actually provided habitat for a number of crawfish and badtempered madtom catfish as evidenced by their constantly plopping out of the litter stash and into the canoe bottoms.
The real threat posed by litter, is the invitation it presents to dumpers who would toss more serious things than bait containers and beer bottles into the river.
The hours were slipping by as we paddled, picked trash, and climbed over logs. The knuckleheads showed no signs of flagging interest or energy, but I sensed it might be time for some cool fun, so I stopped our little expedition in clear, shallow, sandy and gator-free stretch of the river.
Time for a break.
Tomorrow: Attack of the "water bear" and our "haul"