Stewardship - Care for your Environment
And if the child has taken up the fly rod, he has a priori shaken hands with nature, thus sealing an agreement to both understand and protect her many wonders. For fly-fishing can be conceived in no other way...
Lakes and rivers are important for many reasons. They are beautiful and serene. They are important sources of clean, fresh water. They are home for many unique species of plants and animals. It is very important that we protect this habitat - not only for our enjoyment but for the health of the fish, plants, birds and wildlife that make their homes on our waterways.
Would you like to be a guardian of nature, a steward of the environment? Here's how you can help:
You can become a naturalist - a young scientist of fresh water, of ponds and streams. The more you learn about nature, the more you will like what she has to offer - and the better you will get at protecting her. There is no better way to practice environmental stewardship.
Your can do this in four steps, described in detail below:
Step One: Where do you live?
You need to know where you live. Which watershed do you live in? (If you need to, remind yourself what a watershed is.) Always think of a watershed as your home. If you live east of Quesnel, the next time someone asks you where you live, tell them, I live in the Quesnel River watershed. Thats a large watershed. What about the rain that falls right around your house, your yard? Where does it go?
This is a good way to think, because it reminds you that your home depends on the health of your watershed. If you think of your watershed as your home, you begin to treat it like a home.
Step Two: Adopt Part of Your Watershed
Choose a body of water in your watershed that interests you: a lake, a stream, a pond. It can be big or small - a river or a stream. It doesn't matter, just as long as you can visit fairly often. It might be a place you go to fish or camp. Or it might be right near your house. Do some exploring, and consider several places before you choose.
You are going to develop a relationship with this body of water. You're going to become its personal guardian for as long as you can. When you've chosen a place you like, invent an oath or a contract, something to hang on your wall, or just keep in your heart: a promise to understand and protect that water as well as you can, for as long as you can. If you ever have to leave, try to find someone else to take over and become a guardian in your place.
Step Three: Get Some Gear
Get your parents involved now. Tell them you want to do some scientific experiments on your water, to make sure it is healthy, and you're going to need some cheap gear to do it. This is what you need to get started:
Food for Thought... What other inexpensive tools might help you? Have a look around a hardware store or a tackle shop and see what else you can think of.
Step Four: Check the Health of Your Water
A stream or a lake can be healthy or unhealthy. When its healthy, conditions are just right for all the plants and animals in it and around it. When it's not, some of those species begin to move away and die - but you can't always tell by just looking at it.
Your goal is to become a bit of a detective. Your aim is to know more about your chosen water than other people can tell by just looking. They might look at the water and say, Looks fine to me.
But you can tell them, Actually, it's too warm for this time of year, and the trout are probably all hiding in the lake because of it. Or whatever.
There are many ways to learn these things. Use these ideas for checking the health of a stream as a starting point:
Food for Thought... Suppose you were to measure the temperature of your stream every year on May 1 for five years, and it was always about the same temperature. Then, suddenly one year you found it was five degrees warmer! What would you do?
Food for Thought... These ideas are just the beginning. What other measurements could you take of a stream? How about a lake? How would you check on the health of a river?!
Being an activist doesn't mean that you have to be a fierce Environmentalist - although you might want to be. It just means that you take an active role in using the woods and water responsibly, and in doing what you can to protect the environment directly.
Using the Woods and Water Responsibly
Here are some things that you can do to take care of the habitat when you are camping or fishing:
Protecting the Environment
What if you were the only person who knew - or believed - that a small lake near your home was in danger? What would you do? This is a very real problem - something that has happened to many naturalists around the world.
And remember, there doesn't have to be a problem for you to take an active, direct role in environmental stewardship. You can still talk to the professionals and learn from them, or write letters to the local paper just to tell your community what you have learned about your stream - just to tell them its healthy. You can encourage other people to adopt other streams or lakes. Be creative! Think of ways to get the word out about the things you are learning.
Fishing is a great way to enjoy the wilderness. But if you want the wilderness to stay wild and healthy, it pays to fish respectfully. Fly-fishing is a very responsible sport. Good fly-fishers really make an effort to understand and protect the waters they fish in - they have to! If they don't understand the ecosystem, they have a hard time catching anything.
You can practice good fishing, too. Follow your common sense, and treat the environment with respect, generally. The most important, simplest way that you can be a responsible angler is just this: never catch a fish you don't intend to eat.
Catch and Release
You have probably all heard about "catch and release" - where you enjoy catching a fish but let it go to live for another day! Well, it is important to treat a fish well once you catch it, or it will not live much past the time that you release it. Here are some tips to keep the fish healthy:
Did You Know... That it takes about 400 years for an aluminum can to decompose. And about one million years for a glass bottle! We do not even know how long it will take for monofilament fishing line to break down - probably several million years.
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