Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sea change: Time for Acquaculture

 NOAA is currently seeking public input to help shape the scope and objectives of a draft policy for marine aquaculture.You can comment online at:

My comment? - Culturally, Americans have always favored the hunter/gathers in our society.  The cowboy is much more exciting than the farmer, pirate tales win over that of the merchant seaman, and the fisherman's life is preferable to that of the fish hatchery worker. Historically, economically and environmentally however, it is always the farmers who endure, the farmers who end up providing the most food while (hopefully) depleting the natural resources the least.

In this evolutionary progression of man from hunter/gatherer to farmer it is now time for the fisheries to realize that they have reached the end of an era. The buffalo no longer roam the plains in herds large enough to blacken the plains to the horizons, and fish no longer swim in vast schools. They have been fished out. And - as was done for the oyster over 200 years ago, it is now time to turn to responsible farming - if we are going to continue to harvest them.

Economically speaking the adoption of widespread aquaculture is a no-brainer - it's already making lots of money in other countries.  Environmentally speaking the pieces all fit also. Why drive wild species to the point of extinction when we can, with sound regulation, raise the species without harming the environment? Presently over 70 percent of all fish sold in the US comes from foreign fish farms - farms that are not regulated and that do harm the environment. Bring the farms to the US where they can be regulated and it will not only improve the environment but also the safety of the product. And while it is always difficult for the hunter to become a farmer, in the cases where the transition has already been made in the US, it is the fishermen who are now making the best aquaculture farmers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Temple Mountain (aka Bunny Mountain Temple)

A few weekends ago, on one of those summer days in spring, we hiked the Wapack trail from the base of Pack Monadnock South to Burton Peak over Temple Mountain. It is a nice ridge hike and with the leaves just beginning to bud we had great views North to Pack Monadnock, West to Mount Monadnock and East to Boston. While a little cloudy it was clear and we could clearly see Monadnock's summit and maybe even some of the hikers braving the wind up there!

Located as the Wapack trail is, within an hours drive of Boston, there were lots of other hikers even on the lesser-known mountain. There was also lots of evidence (in a good way) of other hikers. While almost always I swear by the leave no trace credo there are times when I appreciate a little human input into the landscape. The giant rock cairn on top of Mt Eisenhower is one example. We summited in the dense fog and without the cairn there really would have been nothing to see, maybe even no real way to know we'd reached the summit. On the AT in Vermont, at a place called White Rocks, there is forest of white quartz cairns of all shapes and sizes. Coming upon them after slogging through a muddy swamp was truly delightful and one felt a kinship with the thousands of creators. Each one may be only placing one rock but together building an art installation in the wilderness, for only the lovers of the wilderness to share.

Temple Mountain also has it's collection(s) of cairns. Why folks choose a spot for cairn building often seems a bit random, there certainly are appropriately sized rocks all over New England, but once one is built, it seems everyone wants to get in the act. The Temple Mountain cairns are spread over a mile of the trail, smaller communities of rocks every other rock outcropping or so. One group was extremely abstractly sculptural, another modestly handcrafted. But my favorite held The Bunny. On one of the larger balds, someone had built a 5 foot high cairn with a hollow shelf in the middle. There, in the middle of the hollow shelf, peering out of the shadows was a stuffed brown bunny. Happy spring hiking everyone!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm going to Texas!

The second week of May I'll be in Forth Worth, Texas at a conference. While my first inclination was to try and use this opportunity to add three states to my list (Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas), the voice of nagging reason (aka S.D.) has convinced me that a better option would be to explore the area where I'll be.

So what, you may rightly ask, does Fort Worth, Texas have to explore?  (Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!)

Apparently - in the days of the Chisolm trail, it used to have one of the most notorious red light districts. Known as Hell's Half Acre, this area hosted a number of saloons, and brothels, along with their famous and infamous visitors. The Earps, Bat Masterson, and my childhood favorites, Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. I'll actually be staying in this area. Of course the actually buildings were all plowed under years ago and it is now the site of Fort Worth's convention center and tourist district but hey...Northfield, MN is now a midwestern yuppie haven.

But wait, no need to be discouraged, Forth Worth does has an historic stockyard! Yup. You can't visit the brothels of yesteryear but you can see where all the cows were rounded up. Right next to the Armour and Swift meat processing plants. The historic stockyard features a twice daily cattle drive and gunfight.

I've also just begun exploring the beer situation, and it does look promising. Aside from Forth Worth being "the first brewery to produce Miller Lite, Fort Worth can make a Texas-sized claim as the birthplace of the low-calorie beer revolution" apparently there is a bar, The Flying Saucer that serves over 100 types of beer. The week I'm there, Wednesday night is "Drink the Beer, get the Glass" night. Starts at 7pm, for a limited time we're looking at 2 glasses at the most. But it's really about the thrill of the hunt, isn't it?

Just like going to a new place is about the thrill of the new adventure.