Here in the West reports of temperatures reaching 125 degrees in places are, well, downright chilling. The wildfire season got an early start. California has already seen over 2,700 wildfires, burning five times more land compared to this time last year. A historic drought is underway. The coastal river that borders my place is a trickle of its former self. Many towns and counties are contemplating, if not already, enacting water restrictions.
All this puts a sharp focus on water usage and the competition for it among various users, including ranchers, farmers, towns, cities, Native tribes, and wildlife. There are examples of cooperation between users that provide both solace and hope for the future. I’m proud to say that one is taking place on my brother’s organic barley farm in Klamath County, Oregon. (Readers know I use that part of the world as a frequent setting for my Nick Drake Novels.) He and his partners have taken proactive steps to increase the size of the wetlands, improve the ditches and dikes to maximize irrigation efficiency, reduce water usage, and increase water storage. There is also a plan to build a pond to raise shortnose sucker fish, a federally endangered species that is special to the Native Klamath people.
Many species of wildlife are already recognizing these improvements. His farm attracts Tundra Swans by the thousands as a vital resting and refueling stop on their twice-a-year migration to and from the Arctic.
To view a spectacular short film shot by documentarian Nick Alexander of the Tundra Swans at Lakeside Farm, click: TundraSwans