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Lesson Plans

A&E -- to Arizonans

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kate/Ron Hirschi (gresham.10)
Sun, 7 Dec 1997 19:30:30 -0500

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Several of you have made the comment that the desert is a focus for your
efforts. Not that it isn't vital, interesting, and important - but your
areas have some of the most critically important wetland habitats that
might just hook many kids.

I hate to say this, but many kids find forests, prairies, and deserts
extremely boring. Or, perhaps it is simply that many more kids find water
and wet places so much more inviting.

That is reflected in attraction to wet places by other species. For
example, in your most arid places, many typically forest dwelling animals
are only found in riparian habitat -- that narrow strip of cottonwood and
willow threading along rivers, streams, small ponds. Even where there are
forests, the narrow strip of wet loving trees shelters and nourishes more
than twice the number of animals as nearby, drier woods.

For all interested in conserving Tuscon water, riparian study/protection/
attention might lead you to some interesting stuff. As the Colorado goes
dry so goes the cottonwood. Or is it, as the cottonwoods go dry so goes the
Colorado? I don't remember the amount of acres and river miles, but the
devastation of Arizona riparian habitat ranks up there with devastation (by
percent of original area) with the worst of rainforest destruction.
Actually, this is true nationally since our ribbons of precious riparian
woods have been hammered everywhere. Worse, in many places, they are now
the target of harvest. And, it is the very few trees lining riverbanks that
help the stream be a stream.

In art, this is best shown by Giono in his account of a tree planter who,
by planting thousands of trees, brings a stream back from the dead. In
reality, dozens of Trout Unlimited Chapters, Fish and Wildlife Agencies,
and concerned ranchers and other landowners have used this simple tool to
bring water back to life.

I urge you all to get wet

Ron Hirschi

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