Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cool, Clear, Water!

Think historically of the Cascade Range and you think of logging. Over the last 100+ years virtually every acre of public land has been logged, or threatened with logging - except for those areas that were economically not profitable to harvest. Some of that remaining land was used for the expansion and development of the National Park and wilderness systems. Today, many leading scientists and former officials of the U.S. Forest Service recognize that the number one ecosystem service of public lands, will not be timber harvesting or grazing, but the year round availability and slow release of clean water.

Think of the ecosystem services that have been provided by the Chuckanut Range in the past, now, and what will be most important in the future. The watershed surrounding the Salish Sea from Olympia in the south to approximately 1/2 way up Vancouver Island and directly across on the mainland of British Columbia will increase in population from 7 million to over 11 million. What will happen as global warming becomes more of a reality and there is a mass exodus of environmental refugees from around the globe to areas less effected - I'm suggesting areas surrounding the Salish Sea. 11 million could become 12, 13 or 14 million.

Think about what ecosystem services will be most important and provided in part by the Chuckanut Range 25, 50 and 100 years from now. Timber for housing? Land for housing development? Or will it be clean water for drinking and agriculture use? Salmon and wildlife habitat? A small corridor of land for access to the main Cascade Range, a migratory stop over for Swans, Geese and other birds? An easily accessible recreational area in the middle of 7, 10, 11 or 14 million people? All of these issues need to be discussed openly - with transparency. 

For the common good.

Small cascades in the Cascade Range ©Paul Anderson

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