Sarco Creek Project: Nature First, A Brief Synopsis
The Sarco Creek Nature First project is a personal environmental art project. It is a thirteen-acre parcel of land bordering Sarco Creek at the base of Bald Mountain, Mount George, Napa County. The land had previously been owned by a pumice quarrying company, which had, over time, altered the natural landscape and resulted in the consequential introduction of non-native plants. Being wonderfully naïve, I purchased the parcel with the intention of eradicating invasive plants and restoring the land to its former self. I became a member of the California Native Plant Society and Land Trust. It has now become a passion and huge learning curve, time, and discovery. The property is covered in both Bay and Coastal Oaks, Manzania and Madrone. The creek and glen are lined with Redwood and Maple. The woodlands will never be felled--only thinned when it is necessary to promote a healthy ecosystem.
Oxygen Generation: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”—Anonymous
Trees produce oxygen and store carbon dioxide. They do it day after day, year after year. As a tree grows it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it as wood fiber. It then converts that carbon dioxide into clean water and oxygen and releases it back into the atmosphere. A single tree can store over 70kg of carbon over its lifetime. It is intriguing that the word “Ecology” stems from the Greek, “house.” The ancient Greek philosophers Hippocrates and Aristotle laid the foundations of ecology in their studies on natural history. I will return to the subject later. The intention is to develop a small area surrounding a half acre earth pond so that it harbors a home, studio, and sustainable organic agriculture but most importantly, leaves the majority of the land as a nature preserve, a bio-diverse environment and ecosystem. Restoration of the disturbed sites is well under way. Invasive plants are being eliminated and replaced with native Californian plants. I am slowly altering the landscape, sculpting the earth to bring it back into line with the natural environment and curve of the land. To attract breeding ducks and geese, I constructed an earth island in the pond and planted it with shade bushes. Wood duck nesting boxes are housed at one end of the pond’s bank. There are long tracts of wilderness to act as safe migratory highways.
Referencing Richard Long, I walk through the woods repeating the steps until a path emerges under foot. These paths lead to secluded places where one finds a seat and a small library house that contains books on various subject matter, i.e. nature, art, poetry, philosophy, short stories, etc. These are sanctuaries that offer time for solitude, quietness, reflection, and thought. To date, I have crossed paths with a diverse range of wildlife, plants and flowers. These include grey-tailed foxes, skunks, deer, various, breeds of ducks and geese, and array of reptiles and amphibians that include tree frogs, toads, turtles and rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, red-tailed hawks, chipmunks, acorn woodpeckers, mountain lions, barn owls, salamanders, Golden eagles, osprey, Steller’s blue jays, belted kingfisher. I have witnessed nature, both for its beauty and its wild brutality. I have listened to both the still silence and the roar of living things, the crescendo of the many. Then there is the night sky, devoid of man-made light, to gaze up to and wonder at the stars and the expanding universe. This is a labour of love, an endless project.