-By Water Quality Protection Lands Biologist Matt McCaw
I recently walked an area of the Water Quality Protection Lands that we had burned in the summer. Before the City bought it, this site, like the rest of the region, had been overgrazed and bulldozed and bulldozed again and along with the cursed brush that always grew back in the tracks of the dozers much of the topsoil too had been pushed up into piles. Now we try to fix it, to make the land functional again because a million people need it to be functional.
On my walk I found a hand axe. These are ancient tools. They pre-date the bow and the atlatl. In Africa they pre-date Homo sapiens. It struck me, once again, that this land - this continent - has supported human life for something like fifteen thousand years. Our globe has sustained us for two hundred thousand years and yet we cannot answer confidently whether it will sustain us another two hundred. Will Austin be viable in two hundred years?
I leave these artifacts where they lay because, legal issues aside, they do not belong to me. These are someone else’s tools. I now have my own tools and someday we will all leave our own remains. What will our artifacts be and what will our ancestors think as they ponder over them?
It was overcast and still and from far across the valley came the sound of a bulldozer straining against the earth. New subdivision. I walked back to my truck and drove on to another site where we hope to do some good work.