The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 19, 2014

Growing in harmony with nature

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

My purpose in writing today is to address what I consider a tragic loss in our beautiful town — loss of habitat for wildlife. Norman once was a unique town, which had the University as its venerable center, more than adequate shopping and housing, and a few, small areas where a person could wander and still feel in touch with nature. Over the last few years, these areas have been decimated one by one. Here are two brief stories.

The last vestiges of fields and trees surrounding northeast Lion’s Park are being destroyed as I write. It is early morning with a soft pearl-grey fog suspended in the chill air. Heavy machinery splits, rips and breaks the bones of the sheltering trees. There is (was) a coyote family and a den carefully hidden amongst the now lost grove of trees. Suddenly a Barred owl sweeps out of the carnage and lands clumsily (normally elegant fliers) on a nearby tree. She turns and looks directly at me. I see fear and desperation in her eyes as my own fill with tears.

The fields were a riot of grasses whose colors changed by season and time of day from brilliant greens to wine, purple, amber and tawny. Their infinitely shaped seeds and flowers scattered everywhere like stars in the sky are now hopelessly compressed under tons of soil. The cottontail rabbits protected by a lavender tangle of vines and branches were either crushed or have fled... but to where? There is nothing left.

In another location, several old cottonwoods along with a small meandering creek were summarily dismissed from life. As I walked the perimeter of the devastation, a Redtail hawk flew by, crashing into a remaining cedar tree. I ran to see if she was okay. The hawk was sprawled on the ground with a broken wing, unable to fly. The loss of her nesting tree, the cottonwoods, disoriented her not unlike the Barred owl I observed yesterday. Fortunately, Rondi Large of Wildlife Foundation was able to capture her and heal her wing. Otherwise, she would have slowly starved to death lying there in the grasses.

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