Days 47 and 48: Playing in the Smith RiverAugust 1, 2012 6:03 pm Leave your thoughts
A day-long journey through the ancient Redwoods of northern California from Maya’s home in Oakland to Rock Creek Ranch on the South Fork of the Smith River. Though we arrived in the wee hours of the morning we warmly welcomed by Grant Werschkull, Executive Director of the Smith River Alliance (SRA), who saw the bus driving on the road during the 2011 year and contacted the 2012 crew to invite us to the beautiful protected lands of the Smith River watershed. After some much needed rest, we spent the morning touring the Ranch’s off-the-grid sustainable power system, which was designed and developed in cooperation with Humboldt State University’s Environmental Engineering program — and youth camps and other educational programs. (Let me just say that Rock Creek Ranch has the nicest composting toilets I have had the pleasure to use this summer.) Grant then briefed us on current watershed protection and restoration projects including SRA’s 5,360-acre Hurdygurdy Creek purchase for transfer to the Smith River National Recreation Area.
When it was established in 1990 by the 101st Congress, this National Recreation Area included several large private land inholdings inside the designated boundaries. The SRA Hurdygurdy project will acquire the last of these large blocks, to complete the National Recreation Area. The land includes several miles of Wild and Scenic River corridor — including along Hurdygurdy Creek, a significant spawning and rearing tributary for wild coho, Chinook salmon, and steelhead. The Smith River is a unique component of the National Wild and Scenic River System (over 300 miles are included) as it is the last major undammed river in California, and is widely recognized as one of the premier “Salmon Strongholds” in the lower 48 states. Over the last six years, SRA has built local, statewide, and national support for the Hurdygurdy Creek project. This summer, a first phase of the acquisition and transfer to the National Recreation Area will occur. But SRA could use your help and I’m letting you know how through this blog post. Please consider helping the SRA complete this purchase and the Smith River National Recreation Area by visiting their website www.smithriveralliance.org and donating on-line.
If you have never been to this corner of the world, I can attest to its utter beauty and grandeur. Driving to Rock Creek Ranch through the Redwoods caught my breath as we winded in and out of ancient trees, and jumping into the Smith River for a swim renewed, refreshed and rejuvenated me. This trip has been teaching me the diversity and sacredness of the earth. I hesitate to say “wild” or “untouched” lands because I don’t believe that such places exist. As a species we have influenced the far reaches of this planet (whether humans have physically touched a place or not, we have certainly affected the planet’s climate and I can think of no place that can remain untouched by this) so to designate a place as “wild,” “untamed,” or “natural” does not to me fully encompass the truth of these lands. But I don’t think this is inherently bad, for are we not as humans natural beings ourselves? We are animals. We are of earth, of water, of soil and perhaps the importance of these “natural” places is that they remind us of this. They remind us of our truest nature. The Smith River National Recreation Area is certainly one of these places. You can support this land in particular by visiting the link above and by visiting the Smith River itself. Don’t underestimate the power of getting outside. This simple act of venturing beyond the human-constructed landscape can reconnect us to that which is sacred, that which is authentic, and that which inspires us to live well with the world.
Go explore kids!