Pastoral letter resonates

  Dear HCN,


Thank you for the copy of your story about the Catholic Church's pastoral letter to help people appreciate the sacred and divine nature of the Columbia River watershed (HCN, 9/11/00: Holy water: The Catholic Church seeks to restore the Columbia River and the church's relevance to the natural world).


I fell in love with the Snake River watershed, its river being a major tributary to the Columbia, when I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho for 16 years. I hunted and fished the Snake's tributaries; passed up an easy shot at a trophy elk I'd called from the brush at sunset because he, his cow, and calf were just too beautiful to kill; had my own near-death experience when my raft flipped in a steep Salmon River rapid; bicycled along the roads up the Boise and Salmon rivers with my 14-year-old daughter, now 20, from Caldwell, on the western edge of Idaho, to the town of Salmon; picked cherries with my family in Emmett Valley; took my 10-year-old son on a two-day horse pack trip near McCall that he, now 25, still talks about; participated on the federal-state team that prepared the Idaho State Water Plan; wrung my hands when the Bureau of Reclamation built Teton Dam on a blue-ribbon trout stream in eastern Idaho and I witnessed more destruction when the dam broke and sent tons of water careening downstream; saw the devastation wrought by clear-cutting and past and present mining; realized the incompatibility between anadromous fish and big dams; and, as Aldo Leopold said, felt the deep frustration of a doctor who understands the cause of his patient's decline, but can do little to stop it.


I've managed, with some difficulty, to make the transition from nearly pristine Idaho to decidedly urban and very busy California. Just before I moved to Santa Cruz, I sold my rifle and gave away my fishing gear. I knew the often idyllic life I'd enjoyed was behind me; I didn't know what was ahead.


In California, my attitude about the environment changed. I concluded that sport hunting, while fostering a positive attitude toward nature, nevertheless limits a much more rewarding appreciation of God's creatures and their habitat. I realized that as a hunter I was selfishly exploiting the animals and their environment, a little like miners and dam builders.


In a sense, my change of attitude mirrors the change the Catholic bishops seem to be seeking with their pastoral letter. They want people to know that when, in Genesis 1:28, God says, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it ..." (King James Version), God meant for man to be a steward, not a destroyer, of God's creation. The Columbia River watershed is an example of God's creation in desperate need of stewardship. The bishops are asking members of the deeply entrenched opposing sides to focus on the health of the whole watershed, not on their parochial, and often selfish, interests. It's a huge job.


Thank you again for bringing this issue to my attention and for renewing my love for the Columbia River watershed. I'm now a little homesick for Idaho, but tomorrow I'll be fine. I'll ride my bike along the ocean shore and into the redwood forest. I'll watch black-tailed deer feed in a meadow, see gray whales migrating north past Santa Cruz to the Bering Sea, and ride the oldest roller coaster on the West Coast, and I'll be fine, really.


James A. Nee
Santa Cruz, California

The writer is a member of the San Agustin Catholic Community in Scotts Valley.




High Country News Classifieds
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.