Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wildfire,A Tribute to Rangers, and Wildlife of the Vermilon River.

 The weather has been snow, snow and more snow, making getting around difficult. We've even had to dig out the bird feeders. Nevertheless, we've been on some treks despite the weather. The winter birds are a pleasure to see, especially the Redpolls. The flock must be up to a hundred again, and their early morning vocals are a fine greeting. The fox posted below was previously posted, but I forgot the second photo. Take a look at his eyes in the second pic when he realizes he's beside me.

This post is a bit of a collection of themes, but is mostly a tribute to the indomitable Forest Ranger, and the forest wildfire risk. Probably a suitable theme as winter passes here, and the risk of fire approaches with the coming of summer,while in Australia floods and fire have raged all summer. I've already explained that the heavy moisture laden air over the ocean intensifies storms, which we saw in New Jersey  and New York recently. The cost of the the storm was according to the web, 79 billion dollars ( US).


This does not include any emergency funds applied for, or granted for the snow storms which struck the eastern seaboard shortly afterwards. The use of the funds to reestablish beaches for human consumption or levees, rather than salt marches, and natural impediments,only means the next storm damage will be greater. Communities must also stop building on flood plains, and wetlands which are the natural buffer of floods.( See Brent Blackwelder:"Today's Irrational Policies Increase The Cost Of Tomorrow's Storms" Daly News, Jan 22, 2013, for an excellent article).



Now to wildfire. So what makes me an expert on wildfire.Well I'm not! But I believe that every person who aspires to be a "responsible" member of society needs to be acquainted, and some what educated about our problems. Have you noticed your elected officials and your media never mention global warming without preceding it with "if". That's because it demands an answer now, and they don't have one, or even a vague notion. It also demands a reshaping of society,and our officials being the worst drek of our society are incapable of that.


A post to: I'd Rather B BirdinOur World Tuesday, and WBW.


Redpoll

Mourning Doves

Blue Jay


Male Pine Grosbeak

Same.

Redpoll

Early Morning Sky.

Common Mergansers

Jay in sun

Redpoll

Jay

Redpoll

White Breasted Nuthatch.

Redpoll

Jay

Muskrat and tail

Redpoll


Tough Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Female Pine Grosbeak


Chickadee

Dove

Dove

Female Pine Grosbeak

Male Pine Grosbeak

Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Pink Sky.

I should perhaps amend the" I'm not an expert" at least slightly, as in my past I was with Ontario Lands and Forest to complete a project in my field. I had just finished my Master's, and reluctantly signed on. It turned out my income was charged back to the park, thus reducing their staff. Now I've always been a woodsy guy so lending them a hand in other areas was easy and fun. I lived in a compound of  Rangers,Provincial Police, and Mounties (who supervised the Aboriginal Reservations at that time). The Chief Park Ranger was the former Chief Fire Ranger at Whitney ( near a major Canadian Park), hereafter known as Tom. Now Tom was everything a storybook Ranger should be, but he could not face a crowd, so I did all the interpretative shows on Thursday night. And the favourite was the forest fire one,complete with a movie. All supplemented with Tom's very own fire stories,even employing his northern accent with Tom as my coach on the sidelines.

So here goes. I posted the tundra photo,above, to use as a site photo. Suppose it's a hot dry summer. The trees are their own worst enemies as their transpiration is drying them out as well. Now this forest is a wilderness forest, so there are dead falls,  standing dead trees, and the forest floor is covered in dry branches and needles. Lightening strikes a tree on the ridge, and sets one tree on fire, spraying sparks to the ground,which ignites dead branches. All the time, the air and surrounding trees heat up until other trees reach the flash point, and burst into flame. The fire begins to crown, seemingly leaping from tree top to tree top, possiblely aided by a wind. The fire crews are alerted and arrive. Over- flying the fire by helicopter to map it and set up the fighting strategy, while crews are dropped at the same time to set up camps to house men and equipment. As both arrive, they're dispatched to start cutting the swale in advance of the fire to isolate it, and deprive it of new fuel. This is done at severe risk to them, as the fire may over leap the swale, and trap them. In the meantime the water bombers start their runs dropping pay load after pay load.As the fire reaches the tundra it moves underground because the tundra is dry, and the fire is hot enough to ignite the underground peat. The only certain way of dousing the peat is heavy rain, and then a winter with heavy snows. In the meantime the fire chief in touch with the ground crews will determine whether to bring reinforcements in. These reinforcements could come from other provinces or even the US. All equipment used by fire fighters is of a common size in North America to facilitate co-operation. But we're lucky this time a non-electric rain storm hits putting out the fire.

Now all Ranger outfits are at the bottom of the budget barrel which is strange for any country that may even vaguely value its wilderness. Most people who sign on as rangers are nature nuts as well. They're sure not in it for the money. But this is even worse in the US, and not just because of the recent financial situation. I've ragged you guys for not having any real wilderness left. And what you have, you serve up as a theme park with all the phoniness of Disney Land. A fact which might be OK if your kids could distinguish the difference, but they can't if you don't teach them Even Yosemite, a former jewel, is awash in urban crime, drugs, family abuse, and gun nuts to name a few things, and patrolled by 50 law enforcement rangers now,when it was patrolled by 100 before. But that takes these rangers away from forestry, and wildlife, and makes them urban cops, so who introduces your kids to wilderness.


The Ranger drink in the compound, I mentioned earlier, was tea laced with navy rum taken off duty, around the camp fire. So let me raise my cup now and toast Margaret Anderson, a young ranger shot, and killed at Mount Rainier, Washington at New Year's. May she walk in the forests of the Ranger's Valhalla, where she'll likely meet Tom. She is, I think, one of one hundred US  Rangers killed on duty.What a sad comment on your society.

63 comments:

  1. What a powerful post! In between the marvels of feathered beauties who are experts at weathering the wilds of winter, you have touched on the wretched "politics" that seems to inhibit our ability to take care of this earth effectively. A great read!

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  2. wonderful commentary Gary and interesting to read more of your background and your love of the world around you. Where you take us in your blog posts is always so enjoyable. Life can deal out some tough cards; your tribute is very heartwarming.

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  3. Interesting story and so many great shots of the little birds. Sad to hear about the fate of the ranger. All while protecting the wildlife who can't fight back.

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  4. hm, I did not know the grosbeak is so large. Now I do. :)

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  5. Male Pine Grosbeaks, whenever you show them and the Redpolls, I am made to smile...got to love them all. Your other birds are quite lovely as well. Yes, we all need to be educated about global warming and it's implications...one has to know that there is good reason for these changes...very frightening changes too~

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  6. Love the photos and enjoyed reading your post.

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  7. A wonderful post Gary... backed up by your amazing wildlife images.

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  8. ditto to every word above- well said Gary. Great pics and post. Our wilderness is our greatest asset!

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  9. I always enjoy your bird photos, especially the Redpolls and Pine grosbeaks. Wonderful post, Gary!

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  10. A great write up Gary and your pictures aren't half good too. Like the Pine Grosbeak especially - such a lovely shade of red.

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  11. As usual, a varied and great posts from you, nice and interesting pictures.


    Ottar

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  12. Hi Gary

    An interesting post. I loved the shot of the dove looking straight at you.

    Guy

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  13. Oh my...such impressive birds...I love how they're all posing for you so proud and beautiful. Love the dove especially. What a brilliant composition.

    By the way, great commentary too Gary.

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  14. Some wonderful captures!!! Especially the Red Fox!!!

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  15. Some stunning shots. I love the Redpolls and Grossbeaks.

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  16. It is terribly sad. We honour their memories/

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  17. Hi!!!.. Beautiful birds an very nice pictures.. A regard from Madrid..

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  18. Great pics and post. Your world is amazing!

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  19. Wonderful photos, you have an excellent collection.

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  20. Great photos and birds and wildlife. A very worrisome post, though! There is a similar lack of funds in our national parks in Australia. I wish we could find a proper balance! but it may be impossible!!

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  21. A post in two halves. I am staggered by the number and variety of photos. But I am saddened by your observations about the lack of wildeness and the dangers rangers face on a daily basis. How have we got it so wrong.

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  22. Great series, Gary!
    I love it so much...
    Warm greetings from Holland,
    Anna :))

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  23. oh !

    Loved the red bird much. Please have a good Tuesday.

    robert geiß

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  24. Interesting commentary, Gary. There are quiet heroes among us that rarely get the credit they deserve.

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  25. As always, I so enjoy your photos and words about the creatures in your world, but like the others, I am saddened by the loss of the wilderness as well as the loss of so many rangers. We all need to be reminded of the price we have had to pay for the care of our parks and remote areas.

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  26. A great series Gary. The redpolls and grosbeaks are so pretty. That fox is a beauty!

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  27. Well written and expressed. The short-end of the stick hurts the most vulnerable.... it is sad and shameful.

    On a positive note, your imagines inspire. I have yet to see a Pine Grosbeak... perhaps one day.

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  28. Great post Garry I love your captures of the delightful redpolls and blue-jays but the bird that makes my heart sing is the gorgeous little chickadee.
    Yes you got it right ... the dog in my vineyard shots is a beautiful Malamute just like Boomer. He lives at the winery and when I took a walk around the vine-yards he came along, waiting while I stopped to take photos then going ahead to show me the way - such an amazing friend.

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  29. Oh Gary you give us so much to think about. I always come back to your posts to look at the slide show of the marvelous pictures. This time I will come back to read the post again as well.

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  30. Sometimes I wonder where did we go wrong! Green cover is fast disappearing from many parts of India too.

    Great series of captures!

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  31. So many wonderful shots of feathered friends in the snow and that lovely fox!

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  32. lovely shots and an enjoyable read.

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  33. Great post - I saw a documentary about wildlife rangers from around the world and the risks they face - its not an "enjoyable" film as it is filled with the same sorts of stats as your last paragraph - but it is an interesting film. If I can find a reference to it I'll send it over.

    Cheers (and thanks for lining to WBW even if it is still Tuesday!)

    Stewart M - Melbourne

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  34. these birds look like they are all fluffed up to keep out the cold. However do they find something to eat?
    Thank you for sharing your lovely images with us.
    Have a wonderful week, and thank you for stopping by my blog today.

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  35. Beautiful birds. Just love them.

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  36. Gary, would you mind sharing with us, what macro lens you use for these beautiful close up bird photos? Maybe, you could post about this in the near future☺

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  37. You are absolutely right ! Humans are the worst enemies of nature !

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  38. Some of those birds are so vibrantly colored. Just beautiful!

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  39. Such an interesting juxtaposition between your commentary and the beautiful shots. If we don't do a better job of taking care of our beautiful world who will? And the fox is wonderful. I see what you mean about his eyes changing once he noticed you.

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  40. Lovely collection of birds. That fox is amazing!

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  41. I'm surprised to see so many birds in the snow! I thought they all tried to fly south for the winter...!

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  42. Wow, how GORGEOUS your pictures are♡♡♡ Beutiful winter scene with birds♬♬♬ Never seen fox before, p;)

    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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  43. Love your captures of the male pine grosbeak in the snow and the front view of the dove -somehow the last is comical (to me -I could see a cartoon of this one).

    I agree about the lack of "if" regarding global warning!
    From your writing, I see that you know about procedures with a wildfire. My son-in-law gave us the tour at his base when he was a fire fighter.

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  44. Your Jay is so different looking and I see you have a common merganser there, it sounds like you have quite a flock of birds around Gary. The Fox photos are incredible. cheers. Oh forgot to say I liked reading about the forest rangers, the weather and fire hazards. Nice newsy posting.

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  45. Forest Rangers do a wonderful job even though it appears to be quite thankless. Your birds are gorgeous, as usual.

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  46. What beautiful birds, and the fox at the end is great!

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  47. Fascinating, Gary. It's too bad forest care isn't given a high priority in our country, isn't it? I was born, raised, and spent my working life in British Columbia, so I know how important the forests are.
    Good for you, publicizing the need for forest fire awareness. Seems Smokey the Bear has died.
    K

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  48. Beautiful bird captures, and the fox is a real treat. You live in a lovely part of the country.

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  49. Gary, I enjoy & appreciate your work and your words.. but I have to say that I have five children, and they have never been to Disney World, or any theme park, for that matter.. But they know the wilderness. They know the woods. They know the creatures, and have eyes & ears to notice what others don't. Who will teach them? WE must. And we must inspire others to do the same.
    Please don't lump us Americans all together.
    I'm going to share two posts with you that I hope you will visit. Not to change your mind about those individuals which you speak of. But of the idea of a group as a whole. I hope with all my wilderness loving heart that you'll take a peek, and share a glimmer of hope.

    http://ourfunwithfive.blogspot.com/2012/06/walk-in-woods-beaus-preschool-grad-day.html

    http://ourfunwithfive.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-went-to-woods.html

    http://ourfunwithfive.blogspot.com/2011/05/wildflowers-in-woods-why-i-love-every.html

    I love pine grosbeaks. I know them because my parents taught me. And it's our job to teach the next generation.

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  50. Fantastic captures, especially love the bird pics.

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  51. Dire que les oiseaux descendent des dinosaures, c'est à peine croyable.

    Un petit bonjour de Lausanne en Suisse.

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  52. Absolutely stunning, I hope you will make a book.
    Thank you for visiting us at pret-a-vivre.

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  53. Seems like most North Americans are far more interested in artificial adventures than in experiencing real life and nature. And the further we get from nature, the more crime, stress, drugs.... If only governments understood the value of preserving our natural world!

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  54. Gary you always find the most beautiful creatures to share with us. Thank you:-)

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  55. How lovely to start a day hearing the cheerful chirping of birds in spite of the cold! Their appearance is so uplifting. May that nature last forever with necessary support by humans. The fox is wonderful.

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  56. Marvelous photos..I love that grosbeak! The powers that be should listen to your good advice! You are a wise conservationist. We all should be.

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  57. What a great variety of birds you have. All fluffed to stay warm, too!

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  58. Once again, I really enjoyed your post and wonderful photographs.
    Hope your having a good weekend.

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