Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth First – Yeah Right

It's been 40 years that we in the U.S. have been "celebrating" Earth Day. Back in 1970 I was in high school and it was a time of well awkwardness for not only for Me as a young Man but for the Country, trying to shed itself of Vietnam, Civil Rights unrest and Politicians gone amok as well. My, my how things have changed – NOT. Well there is the one thing different; I am on Old Man now.

But Earth Day was upon us in the way back and for the first time ever.

I was involved at the time in a small group of students that was working to save a part of the Rio Grande river marsh water epoch. Also called a Bosque in the region. There are little packets of life that form in the bend of the Big Water, you see as the Rio passes through the central New Mexico area it passes what is normally a desert. Now with the settlement of Man in great numbers this area had been turned into farm land and these little packets of life were disappearing, mainly because the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) was in the business of straightening out the rivers. That is to say, there is lots of land lost when a river bends; if you straighten it out all those side lobes becomes usable land. In the case of the Big Water each side lobe had become a little island of lush marsh land, replete with beavers, weasels, eagles in the tall trees and lots of fish and amphibian creatures great and small. All surrounded by desert and separated by then next turn by sometimes miles. Only in the Albuquerque area did these little epochs get real close, there were 6 in the span of about 3 miles. They were slated for "re-use" by the COE who never tired at the task of moving water around. Our windmill such as it is, was stopping the Army.

The group I was involved in was merely a bunch of students drafted or otherwise volunteered into helping prepare an 'adverse' environmental impact statement (EIS). Back then impact statements were only produced if you wanted to point out to the government the error of their ways as opposed to today where if you want to break wind you have to file EIS. Back then as even today such things are an expensive proposition as you need to document to a low level what is lost by the proposed activity of the government and you have to hope it out weights the supposed public gain. It was going to be an uphill battle.

The group as I said before were two teachers and 20 to 25 students all of us either 9 or 10 graders who had nothing much to do during the mornings. You see, the high school I went to was extremely over crowded, the day it opened which was only three years before I went there it was over capacity. By the time I got there I would spend my entire 9th grade in temporary steel classrooms, the only thing I did in the real school was go to Gym and Lunch, all of my classrooms in these modular classrooms. All made of steel and most painted blue, in the scorching New Mexico desert (it was West Mesa High School). You can only imagine how nasty it was in the afternoon out there in the 'Maze" as it was called. The little city of steel buildings. My highest numbered classroom and many of them were doubles was F35 and there were many more buildings in the Maze past 35. It was a mess.

To help with this overcrowding the school district approved a plan where they split the day into two shifts, the 11th and 12 graders went to school from 7:00 am until 12:15 pm, the 9th and 10th grades went from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm. They allowed students in the off shift to participate in classes if you could get in or to participate in extracurricular activates. That was how our little environmental group had the time to conduct all the field research, the sample collections and the species counting.

Now to be fair, I was not like some environmental thumping Winnie or anything like that, there were those aplenty (I remember fondly a Jane that actually remover her bra in my typing class and took it outside like it was radioactive and burned it, some memories never fade), there was the one or two that needed the credits to stay up with the class or who wanted to graduate early (you could gain a whole year taking extra courses). I was there for more puritanical reasons, Love.

I had the hot's for this lovely girl that lived up in the Corrales area. That was about as far from where I lived and being in a single class with her was not enough, when I heard she was going to volunteer to work on this environmental group, I was there. It was three extra days a week with her for longer time too. And the occasional Saturday as well, bonus time. She was a lovely blonde with Carmel colored eyes which I stared into whenever I got the chance. Later she would tell me that was one of the things I did that endeared her to me; I seemed to be looking into her for something more. And I was. I loved her voice the touch of her hand and how she laughed at my silliest jokes. And I was a cut up. I wrote about this Lady before, she is the one that broke my heart and moved to Oklahoma.

Dam you Oklahoma, you already had the Moon did you have to take my Girl too!!

Anyhow, we spent a lot of time on this little project. Cataloging plants, micro sized zoo life, fish, mammals and all the birds that lived therein. Mapped it all too, very crude by today's standards, but we were high school kids what did you expect. I forget how big the package was, it was close to that Health Care Bill people are only now reading.

So, Earth Day has a special meaning to me, not as altruistic by some Green-Winnie standard, but just the same. I did my part. Oh, and that little piece of heaven on the Rio. Well today all the area from Alameda to Rio Bravo in Albuquerque is today Rio Grande Nature Center and part of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. Sometimes tilting at windmills actually works.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Map is from circa 1719 and picture of Rio Grande is more recent both stolen from Wikipeda


Bag Blog said...

Sounds like you did good for The River even if you had ulterior motives.

Buck said...

The Bosques are fun places to go, even for an Ol' Coot like me.

And... The Things We Do For Love. I have similar stories with similar outcomes. Life as an AF Brat meant either you or your friends... later girlfriends... were always leaving. That was the biggest downside to that life. But I managed to live, somehow.