Road trip: water, beavers, otters?

I drove from southern Colorado through northern New Mexico and the panhandle of Oklahoma to be at the meditation retreat in Tahlequah, Oklahoma last week. Overall, it was a beautiful drive. Switchbacks and hairpin turns through winding treed canyons in northern New Mexico led to open vistas at over 8ooo ft. A wall of rock called the Pallisades were breathtaking and my camera did not do them justice.

Across the road from this majesty was miles of burnt forest. Northern New Mexico, like Colorado and California has had frightening forest and brush fires through the BLM and National Park lands. This winter graced CO and NM with a little more snow than usual. Maybe it will help regrow the forest and save what did not burn.

Pronghorn antelope grazed with cattle. The numbers were in the cattle’s favor! The pronghorn is supposedly the fastest hooved animal in the world. It developed that speed to outrun ambushing cougar and wolf. Both are gone from most of these parts now. That’s a shame for the entire ecosystem and health of the herds.

As I drove to Oklahoma, I was enamored. New vistas, new skies, empty mind. But, on the drive home I noticed something. In the Panhandle, one drives over many small bridges, all in good repair, but there is no water under them and has not been for, clearly, several years. Every mile or so another creek’s name would crow from the name on the bridge, but no life, no water, no animals, nothing but dry grass and scrub were there. Beaver brook, Otter river, High Water Crossing, and such revealed that once this land was crisscrossed with rivulets and creeks. It also once teamed with otter and beaver, bison, wolf, cougar, cottonwoods, and willow. Birds of a wide variety also would have been abundant. But alas, greed has laid waste to the green and the lush. Water became a form of gold, and irrigation a form a greed.

As bridge after bridge was crossed, as one name after another told of what used to be, I prayed that humanity -especially in this nation- will understand that short-term gain through selfish methods has very long-term negative results.

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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