Streams of Consequence
Dispatches from the Conservation World
About the Book
A collection of essays highlighting the splendour and diversity of the landscape of southern Alberta.
Streams of Consequence weaves together a bit of “ecology for dummies,” a cross-section of stories and essays on Alberta’s biodiversity riches and treasured landscapes, and a backdrop of selections on conservation issues. These are stories of the land and of Alberta’s plants, fish, and wildlife told through the voice of a biologist with decades of experience on the front lines of conservation efforts. Through stories, metaphor, and allegory, basic ecological principles are made clear, ecosystems are described, and our human role in stewarding these natural treasures is revealed.
Infused in these “dispatches from the conservation world” is the special magic of biology, taking mute organisms at a variety of scales and understanding their lives and habitats so that they have meaning and a connection to us. The role, the unstated objective of biologists, is to remind us, unceasingly, that it is only in our minds that we live apart from the natural world.
These stories have power to engage and educate, to help create and sustain an ecologically literate constituency that knows and cares about Alberta’s wilder side. Readers can look back on the changes, weigh their significance, and think about where we came from, where we are today, and where the trend might take us if we choose one road or another.
There are some rocks heaved at our economy-centred, consumer-driven world. Scattered between them are the acts of altruism, of caring, of forethought, and of stewardship. These are rays of hope amid dark clouds threatening our very existence.
“Lorne Fitch, prophet, biologist, defender of the Rocky Mountain Front, is at his best here, speaking for the cutthroat trout, the woodland caribou and especially his beloved trout streams. The impassioned, often wry and sometimes poetic essays in this collection are an inspiration for anyone who cares about where they live.” —Trevor Herriot, author of Grass, Sky, Song and River in a Dry Land
“Whether writing about cutthroat trout, kissing frogs or the hare-footed locoweed, Lorne Fitch knows how to tell a tale, both long and short. He writes with the wit of Mark Twain, the wisdom of Wendell Berry and the fury of Edward Abbey. So God bless him and this terrific book of essays on things that really matter to Albertans.” —Andrew Nikiforuk, award-winning Canadian journalist, investigative writer and author of numerous bestselling books
“Lorne Fitch is not only a superbly competent biologist; he is also a visionary. Lorne’s understanding and perspective on nature transcends any mechanistic worldview. For him the living world is not only a stream of consequence but also a stream of positive consciousness and sentience. A masterful storyteller, Fitch brings the natural world alive with a joy so irrepressible and contagious that you cannot but have hope for the future. Read this wonderful book and be inspired by how you too can act to create a better world!” —Robert William Sandford, author of Our Vanishing Glaciers: The Snows of Yesteryear and the Future Climate of the Mountain West, Storm Warning: Water and Climate Security in a Changing World and numerous other books
“Every Albertan who cares one whit about the future of our natural landscapes and the critters who live there should put Streams of Consequence on their must-read list. Lorne Fitch writes from the heart. And as a biologist for half a century, he also writes from a solid basis in scientific principles, shored up by the compelling ethics behind those principles. This is a highly literary call to action to Albertans to conserve Alberta’s wild places and wild creatures, expressed through a combination of easily understood science with a leavening of understated wit.” —Bruce Masterman, journalism instructor, editor, journalist and author of the bestselling One Last Cast
“This is a beautifully-written, wise book. Lorne Fitch uses his expert knowledge of Alberta wildlife species and spaces to inspire us with their ecological importance and beauty. And he draws on his inside experience to smarten us all up regarding dynamic inaction versus meaningful steps to conserve them. Lorne’s book deserves a broad readership– for the lessons it holds not just for Alberta, but for our country and planet.” —Monte Hummel, President Emeritus, World Wildlife Fund-Canada
“Lorne Fitch writes with the deep insights of a lifelong biologist, the wisdom of an elder and the wry humour of a Stephen Leacock. This is a work that belongs on every bookshelf, between the works of Aldo Leopold and Gregory Clark: a rich compilation of thoughtful, enlightening, and frequently humorous reflections on the wild nature of western Canada, and the urgent need to care for it better. This book, by one of Canada’s most legendary conservationists and outdoorsmen, was well worth waiting for. It’s destined to become a Canadian classic.” —Kevin Van Tighem, former Superintendent of Banff National Park, ecologist, and author of Bears Without Fear, Heart Waters: Sources of the Bow River, Our Place: Changing the Nature of Alberta, and Wild Roses are Worth It: Reimagining the Alberta Advantage
“From the width of the horned lizard’s home range, to the hectares of lost trout spawning habitat, to the depth of soil erosion caused by off-road vehicles, Lorne Fitch has taken deeply personal measurements of Alberta’s ecology, and our relationship to it. This is the work of a truly omnivorous mind, sprinkled with engaging quotes that range from Aldo Leopold to Marcel Proust to the author’s mother.” —Don Gayton, Ecologist and author of The Wheatgrass Mechanism and The Sky and the Patio
“With these engaging essays Lorne Fitch testifies to the costs the natural world has paid for the prosperity realized from exploiting natural resources. Whether Fitch writes about the native prairie or the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains he details the natural gems we have lost, tarnished, or threatened. His language is stinging and evocative, his analysis infuriating and inspiring. Fitch’s essays, by nurturing our sense of wonder and responsibility for the natural world, invite citizens and governments alike to see the world differently. He invites us to embrace the attitudinal and policy changes needed to bestow greater privilege to the needs of the natural world in our future.” —Dr. Ian Urquhart, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta