Gophers will disappear as civilization rolls on

TumwaterMay 5, 2014 

An April 17 letter to the editor refers to “saber-toothed tigers, pocket gophers and the many other prehistoric creatures that once inhabited the Earth.” Where have they gone — the bison, the passenger pigeon, the mammoth and the salmon from our own Pacific Northwest waters.

The prairies of Western Washington were for centuries annually burned off by natives, allowing the regrowth of the camas bulbs and the oak trees that could withstand ground fire and grazing by elk, deer and grizzly bears. The prairies are the remnants of the glaciers, 1.5 miles thick, as they retreated from global warming.

True, the pocket gopher would, and I’m afraid will, never be missed. It will be replaced with scotch broom and then septic systems for the new arrivals predicted to be 25,000 strong.

The three Thurston County commissioners attempted to alert us to the fact that pocket gophers are the canary in the coal mine. In a few generations the broken prairies and waterways of the Oregon Trail of 1849 have become development ares for civilization.

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