Decomposers are endlessly interesting organisms. Some are beautiful, mysterious, tasty, sometimes hallucinogenic, and sometimes lethal. In the story book Elephant King, died from eating a bad mushroom. Hence, the co-existing presence of respect and of wonder.
Ponder the miraculous mycelium. Mycelia forms an underground, interwoven fabric of cells creating and sustaining a food web that makes life flourish. They gather a nutritious flow of soil water to plant root hairs. They provide nutrients as well as information. The largest living thing in the U.S. may be the interconnected fungus complex under parts of California, Oregon, and Washington. The network is highly resilient and adaptive. Mycelia respond to, protect, and enhance the health of the entire forest community. It protects the forest by breaking down both woody and animal debris, even hydro-carbon molecules, into their nontoxic elemental compounds. It nourishes soil life and that of the forest floor, interacting with worms, mites, many insects and larger forms like shrews, flying squirrels, etc.
The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy is found in the national and state parks and forests of West Virginia., protecting wild lands from the trampling footprint of man. We question and challenge the stewardship of supposedly responsible agencies. We are monitoring and preventing unnecessary disturbance on fragile recovering watersheds and protect stream structure and water quality.
Like Mycelia, the Highlands Conservancy is much more than you can see. It is a network that exchanges information and focuses the energies of many people to protect our mountains, our forests, our streams, and our communities from destruction and desecration. We do this by organizing, networking, by mediating, by facilitating, and by litigating when necessary – by informing and inspiring citizens. The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy understands the mechanisms of man and nature. Join and experience that common energy that rises up out of the fertile earth whenever necessary, like mushrooms after a spring rain.
Note: The idea, the metaphor, and the original writing were by Ernie Reed of Heartwood. Don Gasper adapted it so that the comparison applies to the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy as well.