Habitat Fragmentation and Land Ownership
In this present time civilization, humans are finding themselves in the midst of more than one environmental quagmire. How to get control of the plastic and junk in the ocean? How to keep air clean enough to breath in China? How to rid old pipes of poisonous lead and our water of pharmaceuticals waste, which go into toilets? Am I getting too personal?
Actually, everything we do and have done in the past are exactly what professional scientists/ecologists are dealing with now. If there ever was a field in which our children will find ready employment, it will be as research problem solvers, and maybe even politicians who care about cleaning up our messes. However, the question we all have is: how did we ever get to this point anyway, and what can we do about it as individual homeowners, as people who care?
To their credit, in 1621, the people native to America, the “Indians”—after prayerful consultations with their elders, dying and weakened due to disease and brought here by previous white explorers, weary of warfare—decided it was in their best interest to make peace with the Pilgrims. In spite of the Mayflower crew robbing them of their seed corn and burial treasures, they made a pact together that would endure long enough to get squash, beans, and that same stolen corn planted, harvested, and then shared.2
Peace for the natives was the best and most productive remedy, even though strangers were encroaching on their land. Interesting…and perhaps something we can learn from during this present time of anxiety about refugees. Unfortunately, back then, that fragile peace did not last very long. There will always be the good mixed with the bad, the greedy mixed with the philanthropists, and I assume this is how it will always be. Nothing seems to have changed since the beginning of time.
Of course, as years passed and more settlers arrived to colonize America, the natives were totally kicked off their land. The settlers had brought with them an entirely different ethic of land ownership from Europe, as well as military hardware, far more effective than the natives hand-crafted bows, arrows, and spears. Over the centuries, their precious land has been stolen, divided, and subdivided, fragmented and sold, and some of it has sadly been misused and polluted.
I am fortunate to live in a sub-division of a beautiful, old 200-plus acre homestead here in the Catoctin Mountain. Due to my love of and concern for diversity in the natural world, I am allowing my 11-plus acres to not only feed me, but to feed all my other “relations.” The native idea of “other relations” extends far beyond human relatives and includes the wonderful diversity of flora and fauna, which most of us care about: bees, butterflies, birds, wildflowers, trees. etc. These are things our children are learning to care about in school, and as wise elders, we should also.
As homeowners, and landowners, we can begin to bring these various fragments of land together by allowing native plants to grow, by creating native wildflower gardens on part of our lawns, and by planting native trees. That way, the habitat fragmentation, which has been going on since the pilgrims settled at Plymouth Rock, can be somewhat remedied. If you ever feel like giving up in despair, there is one very real thing you can do, and the opportunity is right in your own back yard, or front yard, too (why not).
The vision is to create a beautiful tapestry right here where we live, of yards and properties dedicated to the health and well-being of our earth. It already looks like a quilted pattern here in Thurmont, but the work is not yet finished. If anything, the work has just begun!
I belong to the Green Team here in Thurmont, and I am heading up a project along the rail road tracks, which will not only beautify our town with wildflowers, but create habitat for wildlife. I am presently seeking volunteers to clean it up a bit in February and then spread seeds. All this must be done before March, as seeds need the time to stratify (to get the benefit of freezing weather), so as to enhance their germination.
If you are interested in helping me with this project, please get in touch with me at email@example.com. If not, then consider doing something on your own little fragment of land, no matter how small. As I always say, “Every little bit helps!”