Now it’s the aspen. Will we lose the soul-soothing flutter of aspen leaves? And what would we pay to have them back, once we lose them?
How much must we lose, before we look up, shake ourselves and reorder our priorities.
A recent study by researchers from Northern Arizona University suggests that we could lose 60 to 90 percent of the aspen in Coconino County, victims of a mystery disorder.
The plight now of the aspen constitutes just another portent trembling in the wind — frail and urgent as the quaking leaves of those white-barked trees allure visitors and wildlife alike.
Earlier this week, we also reported on the struggle to save the dwindling native fish like the roundtail and headwater chub that have found refuge in Fossil Creek as well as the Chiricahua Leopard Frog, whose world has shrunk now to a few streams and stock ponds.
So we are watching the inexorable fraying of the fabric of the forest, the intricate net of relationships between plants and animals that produces both the beauty and the utility that we so urgently need.
The experts can’t point to just one thing, but cite rather an interplay of factors as complicated as the living webs those changes have disrupted.
We grazed and clearcut and suppressed fire, usually with good intention and poor insight. We continue to heat the planet, thin the ozone layer and squander precious time. We fiddle about as the forest dies — or at least transforms into a forest that will no longer sustain us — as it has sustained the numbered generations of our kind.
Of course, we have already stalled past the simple solutions. So we’ll have to muddle through to a cure, trading off the side effects, accommodating the losses.
In the meantime, we’d suggest you take a drive somewhere this weekend to pass through one of those great, quivering aspen groves — turning yellow now as the seasons shift again. Go now, for you’ll surely not find so many aspen next fall.
For the aspen have joined the chorus, pleading, cajoling, warning, threatening.
The aspen and the chub and the leopard frog all agree: The hour is late. Attention must be paid. We’re running out of time.
Tough times, tender hearts
It is that time of year when special efforts begin to help those in need throughout the Rim Country. And times being what they are, the need is greater this year than it has been in recent memory.
The food banks need help more than ever, so an additional campaign has been launched.
Payson Concrete is running its advertisements to get area residents to make purchases from which cash contributions can be given to area charities.
The members of Soroptimist International of Zane Grey Country, with the help of KMOG and Chapman Auto Center, are preparing for their sixth annual Radiothon to collect donations to help them help Time Out Inc. — the only domestic violence shelter in the area — along with Marcy’s Payson Community Kids, Rim Country Arizonans for Children and the Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards.
The Radiothon is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29 at the Chapman Auto Center showroom. People can volunteer to handle phone calls, stop by to give support to the volunteers or give a donation on the spot.
The campaign has brought in as much as $20,000 for its beneficiaries and organizers have set that figure as their goal for 2009.
We are all making adjustments in what we spend money on this year, but there are those in the community who have barely enough to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. If it is possible, make an effort to spend some of your money to help these neighbors and participate in the Radiothon and other charity campaigns taking place in the Rim Country this fall.