When I think about all the things that have shaped my life I realize that this time of year holds many truths to it. Many of our friends have come and gone, this year I have witnessed my friends leaving this world and new life being brought to my family of friends. Spring is a time of hope.
Beautiful things can be found around every corner we pass, and each step we take along this path of life. We must take the time to appreciate them – both for ourselves and those we choose to bring into our lives. Take the time to be thoughtful of these things because they will help shape your future.
A short time ago a friend of mine passed away. His focus in life was to be happy and bring happiness to those around him. As a professional surfer he touched many people throughout the world. His smile and energy brought those who knew him laughter and joy no matter the circumstance of the interaction. His name was Barney, and even though I did not know him as well as others, I can say he brought that laughter and joy to my life each time we saw each other.
With this I propose that we begin anew each year at this time to bring that same laughter and joy. Think about those who have gone and appreciate even more those who have now come to take their place in our lives. We have an unlimited capacity for loving those in our lives, and we each devote ourselves to their love and for the memories we create with them.
The places we take the opportunity to create these memories of laughter and joy are as important as the people we share them with. For me and many of you, the wild places – and even those not so wild – is where we gravitate toward to create them. The new life these places foster and hold are part of the systems that support all life on our planet. Springing forth from the ground offering life is the water that is the future of everything downstream.
Springing forth from our loved ones comes new life that holds this same promise for our future. Friends of mine recently embarked on the greatest adventure anyone can take – and of which I have not – the journey of being a parent. The opportunity to help shape the future of this life and the amazing people, places, and experiences this life will bring is amazing to think about. Her name is Laurel and I cannot think of a more amazing place for her to start this adventure than where she has sprouted up from.
All of us must begin our journey from the same place, the earth. Our human lives begin from the opportunity for conception, and rivers come from the earth by the same means – serendipity. Gravity becomes the determining factor of the impact each of us brings to the earth we come from.
The gravity of the earth dictates the flow and success of a river, and the gravity of the choices we make as humans will determine the impact we leave on the earth. Both are shaped by circumstances within and beyond our control.
Recently this simple fact was used to explain the truth of the need for clean water in our country. It seems too simple for some people I suppose, and of course the gravity of each individuals life may be the complicating factor for them. However, it does not preclude it as a fact – we all need cold, clean water.
The beginnings of life for ourselves and our rivers start somewhere fishermen call the Headwaters. These places are fundamentally the most important places for the health of every living thing that comes in contact with their waters. Water travels hundreds of miles to become part of the greatest community of life on our planet – the oceans where I once surfed and swam with Barney. The home where Laurel begins her journey brings her to a place in society where our communities create a bright future for our species and the next generation.
During these travels of time and experience, each provides an opportunity for success and failure. It is often said that it is from our failures we learn the most about ourselves, and provide the opportunity to become better. Our most beloved places of creating our collective experience is the present time we find ourselves. Now is our time to be part of creating a brighter future.
At one time Steelhead traveled from the ocean to the Ochoco Mountains via the Deschutes and Crooked River to foster new life in tributaries such as McKay Creek, Ochoco Creek, and the Headwaters of the Crooked itself. These Headwaters are the beginning of life for everything downstream and they offer the opportunity to enrich everything and everyone downstream from them.
Now there is an effort to fix and repair the damage we have done by the creation of dams which have become barriers to these wonderful fish. To this end the local Chapter of Trout Unlimited in the Deschutes is working with stakeholders to create volitional fish passage at one of the highest priority barriers in the region located at the Opal Springs Diversion. ODFW has identified this as their highest priority, and the Deschutes Valley Water District recently passed a resolution to amend their existing FERC license to create this passage.
The process of doing this is long and expensive and has many years to complete the process. Recently, I have been working with a local filmmaker, the Chapter, and local stakeholders to create videos and a website to help promote community involvement and support for the project as it develops over coming years. The site is located at www.crookedriversteelhead.org.
So why is this important in the context of what the Trout Bus is all about and this article? Simply put, I am no expert – but I am willing to learn and to help however I can. That is the purpose of this Project – to show you it is possible to be part of something even as huge as this project, or as simple as picking up trash. Doing so honors those in our lives like my friend Barney who wanted only to bring laughter and joy to the world along side the joy and adventure this new life of Laurel will surely have in these waters where we share our health and our memories.
Make your Headwaters a healthy place to splash and giggle in. This is the legacy of what we are able to create, and to honor the memories of those who have passed that we did the same thing with as children of the water.