Submitted by: Haleigh Ziebol, Class of 2015
Although I am a new member of Canyon Crew this Summer, I am not, by any means, a newcomer to Reed’s canyon. As I gazed over the Blue Bridge when I arrived as a young freshman back in August, the Canyon’s pristine waters amazed me. The burgeoning trees. The birds. The overarching sky. The purity. This place was familiar and beautiful.
A smile stretched across my face, while fond memories of the Minnesota River Valley’s trails filled my mind. Soon enough my feet were striding down steps that I would frequently tread in the months to come.
And tread I did. After most morning Humanities lectures I spent thirty minutes slowly padding along- breathing and being, soaking up the atmosphere through each of my senses. I loved to observe all the plants, and to note the differences between days, weeks and months as they carried out their life cycles. I enjoyed the change of pace from the classroom and from my daily life.
With each step, I experienced a tangled mess of pent-up thoughts and feelings. I weathered this inner-turmoil just like the Canyon maintains itself through seasonal changes and inclement weather. Everything simply passed through me, and by the end of these walks, I took my leave a human being rekindled.
Harboring an almost spiritual connection and a full-fledged aesthetic appreciation for the Canyon, I was excited to be accepted to the ranks of Canyon Crew. On Thursday, May 31st at 8:30 A.M. I arrived prepared to preserve and further discover and develop a special place.
Over my first week on the job I’ve discovered that Canyon Crew’s efforts center on the idea of balance. Outside forces, like the human visitors constantly interact with the Canyon. Due to the fact that the human interaction cannot be prevented -and is desired– the Crew oversees these interactions with the intent of preserving, to the best of our ability, the Canyon's natural state. It becomes a game of balance, mediating between both sides so that the Canyon (first and foremost) and its visitors are satisfied.
We negotiate the balance amongst invasive species and the Canyon’s natural inhabitants. The Crew devoted many hours to removing blackberry bushes, Morning Glory vines, thistles, Garlic Mustard and Clematis, all of which pose threats to the desired diversity of natural plants. Though the Crew will never remove every invasive plant, we certainly work to remove all that we can- ever attempting to preserve the balance. We also oversee the struggle between the human and natural sphere by keeping the Canyon free of garbage and accessible to its visitors. Last week this meant trekking along all the trails, machetes and scythes in hand, trimming back plants that were overrunning the paths. The chainsaw even made a guest appearance to prune some overhanging branches.
In the aforementioned precarious balance between man and nature, the beavers constantly tip the scale with their dam building. At dusk the beavers swim upstream with logs, grasses and rocks in tow to a place near the springs. Here, a few feet from the boardwalk, they construct dam after dam, not to be discouraged by the countless times that the Crew has removed them. (If you head down to the Eastern Canyon at nightfall, you just might be able to watch them.) The dams impede water flow, interfering with the salmon run and threatening to flood the boardwalk. For these reasons the Crew dutifully steps into long boots, slushes through the water and removes the masses of sticks and grasses, committed to preserving the Canyon’s balance.