stream

Pictured is the pond at Dykeman Springs. Serene, riparian environments such as this are certainly a reason to be thankful this season.

Editor’s Note: This is a column on area watersheds by Blyden Potts and guest columnists to spread awareness of the area’s tributaries and the efforts of area volunteers to keep them clean.

As we approach Thanksgiving, here are a few things, relating to rivers and streams, for which I am thankful:

I am thankful I live in a water-rich part of the world. We enjoy moderate rainfall. Droughts are rare. Extreme rain, causing flooding, happens from time to time, but is rarely catastrophic.

I am thankful that unlike places where water is scarce, we need not ration water. We do not have water wars. Indeed, our “cup” so runs over that we undervalue water. I am thankful this makes water very affordable, but not thankful when we fail to appreciate how blessed we are, wasting water, or polluting it.

I am thankful for all that water provides and sustains: crops and livestock; verdant flora; forests that keep our streams cooler and healthier, providing richer riparian ecosystems; wildlife of every kind, especially in aquatic habitats; the many kinds of salamander, including the great hellbender, and sheer diversity of invertebrates.

Thankful for diverse riparian environments; shale streams; spring-fed limestone streams; gravel and stone-bottomed mountain streams; muddy runs that drain valley bottoms; meandering rivers incised between high banks; broad estuaries; lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, springs, seeps, and everything in between.

Thankful to live in a state with 86,000 miles of rivers, streams, and creeks, most among the lower 48, and that many of those waterways are unimpaired. Thankful for people who work to reduce the impairment of the many miles of waterways that need help.

I am thankful for water activities: fishing, canoeing and kayaking, swimming, and others. Thankful for navigable waterways, and jurisprudence designating them public right-of-ways, without which opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, boating, and fishing, would be far more restricted.

Thankful for the aesthetics of water: the cool relief it offers on a hot summer day, glints of sparkling sunlight on the water surface, the beauty of waterfalls and splashes, the gentle rocking of a boat, the glassy surface of still water in the morning, shrouds of mist rising from a lake or pond in late summer or autumn, and the variety of relaxing sounds made by water running over rocks or riffles.

Thankful for all the personal uses of water and technologies of plumbing: washing of dishes and laundry, hands, faces, teeth, and bodies; hygiene; sanitation; and the luxuries of ice cold drinks and steamy hot showers.

I am thankful for conservation efforts and everything that improves the quality of our streams and rivers. Thankful for work to remove and resist invasive species, and monitor the health of streams. Thankful for laws that limit pollution, and agencies that enforce those laws.

Thankful for the many volunteers who make possible MSWA’s stream cleanups, riparian buffer plantings, Stream Day, and other conservation and education projects. Thankful for everyone who contributes to MSWA financially, and thankful for everyone who cares about our waterways. Thankful for the opportunity to write a weekly column. Thankful for you, my readers.

I wish you the happiest of thanksgivings and a splendid time with family and friends.

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