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BE INSPIRATION │ KNOWLEDGE


Bear cubs learn by imitating what Mom does. Here, they all enjoy a feast of Salal berries.


Berry seeds and whole berries pass through the bears digestive tract quickly are now ready to germinate where they plop.


The forest floor, under all that leaf and needle litter is the other huge benefit. It is estimated by some scientists that there is more life hidden in the soil than there is above ground level.


Consider all the tree roots, the innumerable other plant roots as well as the fungi, animals and insects that live in the soil that we blindly tread upon. The deep duff layer consisting of rotting leaves, needles, dead trees and branches, as well as the living layer of moss and other plants all help to hold life giving moisture in the soil. This living layer prevents the rain from running off unimpeded directly to the river. The slow evaporation of this moisture helps moderate the temperature, which, along with the shade trees provide, stabilizes the water temperature of all the little side channels and creeks that meander through the forest to the river.


These side channels also contain a hidden, secretive life that we humans normally never consider as anything but an obstacle that we have to cross. Insects drop off overhanging tree branches to feed some species of little salmon fry and smolts. Chinook, Coho and Sockeye salmon all spend at least the first year of their lives in small creeks, beaver dams, and lakes. If the temperature of these waters gets too warm the fish will die. In this case the forest is looking after its own future health. The future adult salmon will return, carrying with it huge volumes of nitrogen from the sea to eventually fertilize this forest to which it will return.


I think of the berry bushes that also grow in the sunlit groves, forest fringes and along roads and trails. Wherever the sunlight can penetrate the canopy there is diverse life forms that provide nourishment for birds, squirrels, insects and larger mammals. Various berry bushes bloom and their fruits ripen at different rates through the growing season.


This Rufous Hummingbird reaches into the foxglove flower in search of hidden insects and high energy nectar.


The berries provide food sources for birds such as hummingbirds that probe colorful flowers deeply searching for hidden insects and nectar. Wrens, chickadees, thrush, woodpeckers and scores of others all search for hidden insects and berries to feed upon while protecting the live trees from insect pests. Bears utilize berry sugars to help gain weight through the summer season while casting the berry seeds far and wide via the germinating medium, bear scat.


Hidden beneath the duff and the moss, under the shady canopy, or floating along in the quiet, reflective river waters is a secretive world of wonder that we tend to ignore, mainly because we can’t see it. We are slowly beginning to understand how we all benefit and how our world is so much richer because of the interconnectivity Mother Nature has designed into all forests. I do not necessarily believe that just because we understand our negative impacts upon the environments surrounding us that we are all ready yet to help. We continue to burn huge swaths of jungle for agriculture and log off miles of old growth and second growth to make more lumber, pulp or to burn for electricity. Our cities are sprawling into forests as we pave over more small streams, side channels and bogs, eating into the vital lungs of the earth like a cancer.


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