Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Changing the Perpectives of Viewscapes

If Lewis and Clark could see parts of the West today, they might not recognize it. What was normal to them as they made their way through the great Pacific Northwest 205 years ago was largely pristine wilderness. So pristine, in fact, that they  cataloged many native and as yet undescribed specimens for Thomas Jefferson and others who had only heard about what lay west of Missouri and beyond.

Oregon still has a large percentage of its native ecosystems. We are, in fact, one of the few states in the nation that hasn't experienced the wrath of large populations of feral swine in our riparian corridors, or emerald ash borer and gypsy moth defoliating swaths of forest and urban landscapes.

How can we protect what we still have while doing battle with new invasives? The greatest threat to Oregon's ecosystems is not transportation, ignorance, or our global economy -- it's public perception of viewscapes.

There are many people that enjoy the flowering yellow brilliance of scotch broom along Oregon's interstates. Others are almost protective of their patches of Himalayan blackberry. And some see nothing wrong with bullfrogs in Oregon's wetlands. 

But all of these are invasive. None of these examples are the real Oregon. And all threaten the future of Oregon's ecosystems and the native fish and wildlife that can thrive there.

We're about rhododendrons and red flowering currants. We're about huckleberries and elderberries. And we're about Pacific treefrogs.

Let's not settle for anything less.

Lisa DeBruyckere, Oregon Invasive Species Council

1 comment:

  1. We need to be careful about describing pre-European landscapes as "pristine". Lewis and Clark, after all, often followed well-worn trade and migration routes. Perhaps along the Columbia they did not see the widespread evidence of landscape management by pre-Europeans. Among the results of pre-European land management was widespread and uncontrolled burning that created oak savannas and groves where the "real Oregon" would have been largely coniferous. Given the very long range trade engaged in by pre-Europeans, we do not know what species they might have introduced and that we consider native.