Roy Lukes: Land Stewardship

The New Year is approaching and it is a good time to hike on the land and “take stock” of all the great preserves we have in Door County. The old year is waning and it is time to think of the natural world and make a few resolutions for the New Year.

In addition to the usual goals of being more helpful and kind toward others, following a more healthful diet and exercise program, etc., etc. Perhaps one would do well to be more considerate of our outdoor environment and its plants and animals.

Stewardship of the land comes to mind. Should we be looking more closely at the land before tampering with it? Which plants grow there? What about the butterflies that feed on the nectar of flowers, the birds that depend upon shrubs, trees and fencerows for shelter, food and nesting?

Before land is cleared for the construction of a large new development what about the possibility of rare plants growing there? Do we have to continue to live in an anthropocentric society where nearly everything is managed for the use of man? Can we work toward a more biocentric existence that is biologically based, where man is second?

Encourage the protection of some of your favorite roadside trees. Submitted.

Encourage the protection of some of your favorite roadside trees. Photo by Roy Lukes.

The shores and waters of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams need much more attention in terms of preserving them in a healthy state and could stand far less human abuse than they are now receiving. People do not want to see them lined with invasive plants or huge cattle feedlot operation runoff. They, by all means, prefer natural vegetation to grace these fragile shores, and perhaps, if the bodies of water could speak, so would they! Great effort should be aimed at proper treatment of all shores. They really are a part of and belong to the bodies of water, not to people.

Everyone should strive to learn more from the natural world. I would like to believe that the trend is for more and more people becoming increasingly sensitive to nature. The real problem, in light of human population growth and more development, is how do we take care of what we’ve got left?

Man’s place in the infinite scheme of things becomes more puzzling. Many people of great wisdom feel that our species’ clumsy and often irreversibly destructive relationship with this miraculous planet is to a great extent the result of ignorance. Many would add, “and greed.” There was no person who stressed this point to me more than Miss Emma Toft during her later years of life.

A spectacular sunset enjoyed recently led me to think about several forms of natural beauty that are so seldom observed and enjoyed by most people. We don’t pay tribute to and cherish sunrises nearly enough. Sunsets yes, but sunrises too often go begging for attention. Choose your favorite secluded vantage point, pack a breakfast, and be on hand to see “Old Sol,” that all-important, most vital object in our lives, rise to bring on the day.

And how about looking to the sky more, to enjoy the clouds, rainbows and even storms? Remember that the sky starts at your feet! Eric Sloane, famous artist and writer of Americana, said, “I believe that the sky was created for pure beholding; that one of man’s greatest joys can be simply looking at the sky.”

Do you have a magnificent and favorite tree on your property? Resolve to have it be a gathering place for your family and friends, a place for precious togetherness, an oasis for genuine love. Care for the grand monarch. Highlight it and pay tribute to it in various ways throughout the year. Guard it jealously against possible injury so it will always be there when you need it. You may even want to ground it against possible strikes of lightning.

Even though your home property may be small, or your woodlot modest in size, keep in mind that the few remaining majestic primeval forests with their great giants all began as mere seeds once upon a time. Some day in the future a generation of people will be able to pay awesome tribute to the fine trees of the woods you worked so hard to get started and to manage.

I shudder to think that the largest living tree in the county could be cut down so a road can be widened or repaved for reasons not entirely understood by some people. It is also a great fear that our supply of clean water will be a thing of the past. We must ensure for future generations that our environment will sustain all those who follow us.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” We would all do well to become more appreciative of our natural surroundings and increasingly sensitive to their proper use.

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