Sonoma County Gazette, February 2013

I love the Russian River.
The Russian River is a source of joy for those seeking respite from busy lives: children kicking and splashing to their heart’s content, dogs running, jumping, and swimming, canoeists floating leisurely downstream, soaking in the sun. Letting go of all our cares, we feel connected to everything we survey.

The river provides wildlife with food and nourishment.  It provides habitat for protection from predators and a place where they can reproduce and flourish and lead the good life.  At this time of year, the river also importantly provides drainage for runoff from surrounding hills.

The river not only provides sustenance for humans and wildlife, it nurtures the land itself and the riparian plants and trees, and is more important to natural survival than everything but the air we breathe and the warmth of the sun.

The river and its tributaries connect humans in ways we often take for granted although we depend on the water for drinking, swimming, bathing, cleaning, industrial use, fire suppression, and much more.  Are we too spoiled as we turn on the tap or the hose and always assume a steady flow of water will come out? And we also expect it to be clean, free of toxins, bugs, and dirt. We all expect that, don’t we, or at least those of us who have lived our lives where water is abundant and cheap?  (How wasteful that we use drinkable water to flush toilets and so good that we are using less and less of it for this purpose.)

Sometimes we are careless or ignorant about how to protect this precious resource.  Some dump their waste, garbage, and toxic products into the river, as though it were a garbage dump, absorbing all the things we no longer want where aquatic creatures have to live full time. Sometimes we are too lazy to dispose of waste properly and expect the river to just carry it to the sea.