Ubiquitous by some definitions means abundant or ever present. In North Idaho, we do seem to have ubiquitous nature = wild species and spaces galore, however when you look closer…
Reflect on the reality of so many people moving ‘here’ from ‘there’. They, just like you, appreciate the wildness of Idaho. Some Idahoans know the importance of sharing the habitats with our wild neighbors. We accept we are a part of not apart from nature. We understand that nature heals and rejuvenates – not in some energy crystals and auras kind of way (although there is some validity to that level) but in the way that spending time in nature forces you to realize you are one very small piece in a very large puzzle.
Nature is not an entertainment destination. Nature is not a recreational venue to be abused. Nature is not an entitlement for the privileged. Nature is not a means to an end of accumulation of resources. Nature is not ubiquitous. Nature will not remain wild, unless we the people defend and protect.
“What can one person do? Stop being one person. You don’t have to do it all. Other people are working all around the world on the same causes you believe in. Find them, join up with them. You’ll find your place in the choir. Choose what you love and devote yourself to it. That is enough." ~Joanna Macy
Bonner County has a many nonprofits with missions involving the environment and the protection of habitat components. These charities vary in size as well as the ways they accomplish their activities but one common thread connects them all – the need to have community support.
Ecologists use an airplane as a metaphor for nature. Imagine all the components necessary to create that craft – engine, wings, metal, nuts, bolts, wiring, computers, etc. in your mind substitute all the parts of a healthy functioning ecosystem in place of the parts of the airplane. The insect kingdom is the nuts and bolts, the wiring are the rodents such as squirrels, the metal panels are the small mammals, the glass and landing gear are the birds, the computer compartments are the predators, the oil and other necessary fluids – the water and lands, the engines are the trees and other flora. Do you have that image in your mind? Take a moment to and start removing all the flora and fauna which has gone extinct. Loosen or damage all the flora and fauna which are threatened and endangered. Do you still feel safe trying to fly in that plane?
History will clarify that the native peoples of North America were connected to nature. Nothing was taken for granted; all life was respected and honored. Yet sadly, the ‘civilized peoples’ felt this connection to nature was ignorant. The people were gathered up and forced to forget their ways. Hubert Reeves phrased it the best when he said: “Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible nature. Unaware that this nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.” Nature is an ecosystem. The prefix ECO comes from GREEK - “OIKOS” meaning HOUSE. Ecosystem – a ‘household’ of organisms. An ecosystem is the house we live in. Economy refers to how we manage that house.
If that analogy is insufficient to stir your soul, perhaps a more human approach will be understood. Do you remember or have you read about the 1970 Kent State University shooting? This was decades before humanities ghoulish fascination with death and calling morbid images entertainment was normalized to the point of complete desensitization and yet a young girl ran to help, she ran to do something, she reacted towards the horror in front of her. The innocence of youth and being connected to her emotions and compassion were the driving force. What is the excuse for adults to not get involved in any good and kind act? Selfish narcissism or fear because of past traumas suffered at the hands of others who were not humane humans.
Aldo Leopold said “the last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, what good is it?” The moral may be act for what you believe in, don’t try to dominate. Simply live and let others do likewise, work together to find peace. If we don’t remember history we are destined to repeat it. Let us not walk in the path of ignorance and follow misguided attempts of dominance.
Humans have caused habitat alteration, fragmentation, acid rain, increased ultraviolet light due to ozone depletion, pollution by toxic chemicals and heavy metals, predation from free roaming dogs & cats and introduced species competition, poaching, killing, trapping, drought, climate change, illegal transfer through pet trade or commercial collection, urbanization, improper harvesting techniques, burning fossil fuels, improper waste management, exhaust from motor vehicles, release of noxious gases like SO2, CO etc. from sources such as metal smelters, coal dust and particulates in our waterways, air pollution leading to water & soil deforestation, leaking underground storage tanks, incorrect use of agricultural chemicals (fertilizers & pesticides), livestock grazing near waterways, solid waste disposal sites, treatment plant ‘sludge, Consider treatment plants cannot filter the toxins & the same water body where emptied is the tap water source as well, urban runoff (including salt from winter de-icing), improper logging techniques, lead poisoning from sinkers & bird shot (alternatives are available and exist). – biomagnification is the problem, feral pet populations, Release of industrial chemicals: crude oil, heavy metals, radioactive waste, including thermal pollution. Compounding issues of strip mining practices which have currently exacerbated desert community groundwater supplies, septic systems (leaking or nonfunctional), household chemicals/ homeowner actions, street lights & outdoor advertising, etc. Each night billions of bulbs send their light pollution skyward. These bits of matter reflect the wasted light back to earth, causing wildlife damage.
The land mass of Idaho is 83,557 square miles, the 12th largest state in the lower 48. The human population in Idaho has risen from 88,548 in 1890 to 431,866 on 1920. There were 721,519 residents in 1975. The 2011 census reported 1,584,985 humans living in 53.5 million acres. The 2020 census reported 1.8 million people sharing the same land space with the native wild animals. These wild ones are our native neighbors! Let us all learn to cohabitate, they are trying to exist with ever shrinking resources.
The human race seems to be divided … those with empathy and those with apathy. Let nature guide your acts. Rivers do not drink their own water; trees do not eat their own fruit; the sun does not shine on itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. We are all born to help each other. No matter how difficult is…life is good when you are happy; but much better when others are happy because of you.
Make a stand for wild spaces and species. Donate time, talent and treasure. For wildlife we are both their greatest enemy and their only hope. These wonderful creatures will not argue their case. They will not put up a fight. They will not beg for reprieve. They will not say goodbye. They will not cry out. They will just vanish. And after they are gone, there will be silence. And there will be stillness. And there will be empty places. And there will be nothing you can say to change this. Nothing you do will bring them back. Their future is ENTIRELY in your hands.