Thursday, October 6, 2011

What is the California Delta to you?

© 2011 Joshua Stark

Dan Bacher has an update on Delta issues - noting that federal representatives of the Delta and North Coast recently met with the new Delta Czar, Jerry Meral.  Their reason:  To let him know that they have "grave concerns" (Mr. Bacher's language) about the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan.  Add their voice to the many groups who've been involved for years fighting to make the Delta whole and healthy.

According to Mr. Bacher, the Reps.' concerns are over a peripheral canal.  However, if you read the quotations, it sounds like those representatives are not as adamant about opposing a canal as is Mr. Bacher.  This is too bad, and we constituents need to let them know that we want solid, explicit language opposing any conveyance around the Delta.

Make no mistake:  Any peripheral canal would be an ecological compromise, at best; at worst, it would be an ecological and economic disaster for a fertile, diverse, unique region. 

Everybody rips on the Delta, but the Delta is California's crown jewel, the source of our very life: from its water, the foods that come from its amazing soil (with no need to go against gravity), and its unique habitats.  From the way it is talked about in the news and in so many watercooler conversations, you would think that it is a festering sore on the face of the Earth, a cesspool of pollution, devastation and death just waiting for a catastrophe to rip it wide open and spread famine everywhere.  But, we have made ugly in concept something that is beautiful in fact - even now - and we do it because we do not understand our physical connection to it. 

You, who drink water in Los Angeles, water that is pumped hundreds of miles and over an entire mountain range, you are connected to the Delta: It infuses your cells, hydrates your body, helps fire your synapses. 

You, who spray water to ever-saltier flats on the West Central Valley, you are connected to the Delta: It lines your pockets, pays your kids' tuitions, keeps your workers happy.

And we, throughout the world, who buy California produce, we are all connected to the Delta:  It grows the largest agricultural industry on Earth, it builds our muscles and bones, forms our staffs of life, grows our children's eyes and brains.  We sanctify it, pray over it, cook it up, add it to our very selves.  We are made of the Delta.

And this is good.

But if we are to continue to benefit from it, then we must treat it right.  Many billions of other lives depend on the Delta, too, and the Delta, as any ecosystem, depends upon those lives for its own health.  There is no separation of a wetlands habitat from its water without loss and significant change, and we, as Americans, have taken on the responsibility of caring for those creatures we have harmed. 

Mr. Bacher notes a sad new record set this year:  more Sacramento splittail minnows were killed at the pumps this year than any other.  Nine million little lives lost for the pumps, while more water was pumped than ever before.

All of this that is the Delta - the devastation as well as the vitality, goes into those things we put in our bodies to keep ourselves whole.

So next time you start to think about the Delta as a horrible place, just remember:  The Delta is You.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joshua, I couldn't find an email address for you and just wanted to thank you for one of your comments over at Hank's blog. The comments appear to be closed over there, on that particular post.

Feel free to delete this note, seeing as how it has no bearing on the subject here. But, I just had to express heartfelt appreciation for your last paragraph of that commentary. It's not often that hunters or others outside the field recognize what you described about your relationship with the cormorant. It's something I try to impart to people but absent that experience, it seems impossible to relay. And, short of going through training and getting licensed, it's difficult for people to have that type of interaction, owing to strict regulations on who can enter hospital treatment areas. Those who try to get close outside the parameters of legality often end up doing some pretty screwy things in their attempt to have that relationship. It breaks my heart consistently that I can't get people to see at least a little of what you so artfully suggest in just a few sentences. That's exactly it. You nailed it.

I wasn't sure how you would take my comment because I know we share many principles in common and yet differ on some dramatically. You and I are clearly in sync on issues of monoculture and big ag, as well. You should hear my rant on the monoculture of "lawn," too (hehe). I believe our primary difference is that we tend to view the sport through different lenses. Let's just say, it's not the Joshuas and the Tovars I see out there day to day. I will leave it at that. :)

But thank you kindly for your thoughtful reply. It meant a lot to read that, from your perspective.

Cheers and happy holidays!