Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Battle Ahead

Today I am in our nation's capital city, Washington D.C.

A naturalist could hardly feel more out of her elements than here in the city, amongst honking taxis, navigating lanes of traffic and a gauntlet of valets at the hotel.  But I am here, for a purpose.

The Battlefield of the First Bull Run at Massassas, VA.
But few miles from Washington lies a peaceful scene, the first battlefield of our nation's Civil War. The fields outlying today's Manassas are a welcome rest from the hustle of the highway.  The wind blows softly though the high grasses. The tinkle of ground crickets belie the horrors of war this National Park commemorates.

This land set aside speaks to us of our nations history and past struggles.  It is easy to think politics are not a part of a naturalist's life, but we should each feel compelled to speak up against the movement to sell off our nation's great lands and parks.  These places not only commemorate our past, but the are also the front lines for a modern day battle.  The fields of Manassas have found new life and purpose as a urban oasis for grassland birds and wildlife.  This unintentional by-product brings new meaning and urgency for protection from the encroaching world.

Grassland Conservation is now a part of the mission of this National Park.  It is a habitat of historic proportions. In addition to the grassy fields, there are also large swathes of woodlands, shrub lands and streams which are a part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Manassas battlefield is designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Audubon.

More over, it is an important people area.  Here we can undertake to study the manner mankind and nature each handle its affairs.  This site of an epic and bloody battle scene has been transfigured by a kindly Mother Nature.  I like what she has done with the place.

A single gnarled juniper remains.
On the field remains a gnarled tree, still fertile with fragrant juniper berries.  This lone sentinel bears witness to our horrific past and leans gently toward the future.  Let us stand up for these reservoirs of nature all across our great land.  What some might consider "wasted" undeveloped land has a greater importance to our history, both natural and man made. 
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community."  Aldo Leopold 1948

1 comment:

  1. ...inspiring post, Cheryl. I'm glad you're taking the fight to D.C.