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Fixing Things

I went up to Mt Lemon yesterday and have some pictures, but I cannot currently post them since I am lacking a connection.  But I have a picture and some general thoughts from the day before.

Marana Arizona from Carl and Elise''s yard 

Above is another view from Carl and Elise's yard, this time during the daylight.  It is amazingly green, although you see that the ground itself is bare.  There were all sorts of birds flying around.  Especially common were desert quail.  They walk around most of the time and only fly when flushed out.  Their calls were very nice to hear. 

I was comparing this desert land to Iraq. I think the land in Iraq is just misused for millennia. The challenge of the desert is that it is unforgiving.  You can get away with a lot more in a wetter place, where grass and trees will quickly grow back after a disturbance. In the desert your mistakes are written on the land for many years or centuries.  I bet that much of Iraq could be as rich in natural diversity as Arizona, but there are too many goats and the country has been too abused for many centuries.  Plants in the desert grow slowly and they depend on the other plants in the natural community.  The brush you cut down or let your goats eat might have taken decades to get that big.  And once taken out, it is hard for it to come back. 

John Matel with Iraqi friends in Anna Iraq in August 2008 

The picture above is me talking with some Iraqis who want to restore their land.  I think it can be done and so do they.  We are standing in the middle of one of their projects.  It is a good start. It just takes work and long-term - multi-generational commitment. 

We have learned many good lessons in land management.  If we just follow our own best management practices and strive to continue to learn, we won't suffer the fate of the ancient lands of the Middle East.  And maybe if we all learn the right lessons, we can help them return to a better place.  That is a truly worthy enterprise.


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