So when you think of this landscape, I urge you not to think of it as just a pile of static rocks but as a history book with stories of lava flows, of floods, of huge towering plumes of ash and gas overwhelming everythiing that lived there and couldn’t run away.  These are very dynamic environments even though they are old.”

                                               Geology Professor Ellen Morris Bishop

Many Stewards have rocks on the land they are tending.  Rocks are needed to stabilize roads, while a few homes are built with rock as a base or even, as one home nearby displays, is made entirely of native stone.  We love tall rocks, which we call mountains.  Rock can be important wildlife habitat as reptiles, birds of prey, vultures, and even a small western mammal called a pika or “rock rabbit,” make their homes and nests on ledges and within crevices.  If a stream passes through your land, it is the mixture of small stones known as spawning gravels that are vital for salmon.  Human chiseled rocks are indigenous tools, cultural treasures.

While caves are a rare landform in the Pacific Northwest, essentially every cavern holds bats.  A note of caution: if you like spelunking, please don’t explore caves during the winter as it can cause a massive die-off to hibernating bats.

Rocks are an essential part of soil, providing the mineral or non-living component of what we too often refer to ignominiously as dirt.

Unless we are a geologist or rock climber, we don’t think much about rocky formations, though we may yield to temptation when discovering flat, palm-sized stones perfect for skipping along a water surface.  We do use boulders for landscaping and as rock gardens.  We also like to build cairns along pathways to show us the way, or as many local folks acting spontaneously, erecting rock towers along a new freeway off-ramp.

When Steward a discovers rocks or cliffs on the land, it is nice to know that this is one natural resource that probably needs no intervention; no mangement is needed. ~

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