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Friday, February 20, 2009

Little Owls Canyon

Well, even though today was a bit blustery, i went out for my hike anyway. This time i made my journey to the Little Owls Canyon. Little Owls Canyon is a magical place and has welcomed nature lovers for ages as is evident by the petraglyphs or rock art gracing its walls. It has been a rock climbers hidden gem for decades. There are rare salamanders here, and i have heard frogs singing up in pools i have yet to explore.

The health of the canyon's waterway and wildlife is being endangered by an irreverent and irresponsible mining company which is still in operation despite its permit violations, EPA violations, and various other sundry violations of law, ethics, and environmental stewardship. They have been running a mining operation for years, having leased the mineral rights to land which is now a growing community of home owners. This mining operation is seeking a special use permit to expand their operation onto even more peoples land. A grassroots organization of rock climbers, land owners and land lovers has sprouted up in opposition to the granting of the special use permit.

Despite the gradual encroachment of the mining company and its pollutants i was blessed with sightings of much wildlife. Deer and elk tracks, bear and coyote scat. I saw one coyote, many little birds unknown to me (some that were defying gravity and walking underneath rock ledges upside down), a little woodpecker (nutalls) or sapsucker (yellow bellied), found feathers of wild turkey and great horned owl. The small boulder pools were mostly frozen with a light sciff of snow, enough to just make out see coyote tracks clearly, although beneath some i could hear the trickle of the creek.

My most amazing find today was of a mass of wild honeycombs hanging from a shaded section of stone high up a cliff face. I climbed up to get a closer view and took photos, but they seem a bit blurry to me even though the camera should have focused on them.

My love for this canyon and its healthy natural state has led me to attend the local county planning commision meetings, write letters, make phone calls and gather with others to discuss actions we can take to increase awareness of the situation.

One thing that has come up is the cost of legal representation for the landowners. At the last meeting of concerned citizens i proposed that we all do a little towards helping by focusing on our own areas of expertise. There are many artists involved, and i suggested that we make and donate artwork for an auction to raise money. We could make t-shirts, musicians could donate music or even write new music for a compilation cd to be made and sold to raise awareness and money. For me, i have decided to work a jewelry angle.

On my recent visit i collected a few select pieces of stone which i intend to work into a series of pieces which could be sold or auctioned to raise money to help in the raising of awareness about the Little Owls Canyon and its plight.

And in an epipheny (or was it the mushroom whispering) i realized the series would be called "Stones from the Pools of Time" and when i found certain stones they too had names, names which will follow them into the pieces i create (ie. Little Owls Canyon Night, Ghost Dance etc.)

This hiking trip in congunction with local happenings has really inspired me toward a new series of work with great local, social and environmental relevance and resonance.

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