I’ve been fortunate in my career and personal life to have worked with many stewards of our lakes and streams and wetlands.
Not that Matthew (5:3-12) needs any kind of help from me, but I’m thinking that these good folks should be honored with a new Beatitude. The Beatitudes (there are eight) are probably known by most of us – a lovely biblical poetry with a sort of incantation and refrain. Here’s a sample:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
Having provided the start, “Blessed are the Water Stewards,” I’m kind of stuck on how to finish the thing. A few half-baked ideas:
“… their Great grandchildren will delight in the Creator’s lakes and streams.”
“… they shall never go thirsty.”
“… their creels shall always be full.”
Have a suggestion? Please pass it along! (There’s a good reason why I’m a hydrologist and not a writer.)
Many kinds of water stewards dwell amongst us.
Brave bureaucrats who speak up against a hostile tide. Politicians who stick their necks out to get involved in water struggles. Dedicated staff of water organizations who lobby, advocate, and organize. Landowners who spend their time and funds repairing and improving streams and shorelands. Volunteers who watch landings to ensure clean-boats and no invasives.
But perhaps those who would get the highest place
in some sort of water heaven are the stewards who work in small groups and organizations for the betterment of water, the critters who dwell in them, and the people who enjoy them. You know these groups. They are the “Friends of This River,” or the “Lake That Association,” or the “Something or Other Coalition.” They are often passionate, overworked, love their water body and hurt when it is harmed.
A few of stewardship groups local to me are near to my heart:
The Friends of the Little Plover River
A handful of people educating children and community on the importance of the Little Plover and the beauty of coldwater ecosystems.
The Friends of the Tomorrow Waupaca River.
These folks annually open passage on the stream so families can readily paddle. They pick up trash annually too. They work with others for a healthier river.
Trout Unlimited – Frank Hornberg Chapter.
Trout Unlimited guys and gals have undertaken an immense responsibility, as our native brook trout has been declared “God’s Most Beautiful Creature” by no less an authority than former seminarian and now writer-farmer-conservationist-atheist Justin Isherwood. They’ve fixed miles of degraded stream and improved habitats.
What many stewardship group members have in common is this:
They’d rather be enjoying their waters or doing hands-on work improving them. But these frequently Lake Woebegone – like shy folks screw up the nerve and courage to go toe-to-toe with polished industry representatives and lobbyists in intimidating public venues to advocate for the waters they love. Without them, I think our state’s waters long ago would have been dammed, pumped, or polluted to death a long time ago.
So bless them!
But better yet, join them!