Friday, November 23, 2012

Sandhill Cranes vs. Vineyards

"Rusty dance", 18"x24" watercolor 
It is that time of year again when sandhill cranes winter in the Central Valley.  Just earlier this month, Lodi celebrated its annual Sandhill Crane Festival which is always  a treat.  Lodi, like a lot of other towns in the Valley, are smitten with the wine industry and the prestige that comes with it. In fact,  it is the home to the famous Mondavi Woodbridge Winery.  Furthermore, grapes harvested in Lodi are actually used in the well-known Napa wines so one can say that Lodi's wine is good enough for Napa or even better than Napa wines.  Wineries in the Lodi area are growing and it seems that new ones pop up every year.  This may seem like a great development for Lodi but this does not bode well for sandhill cranes that rely on farmers flooding their grain fields.  More and more land in the Lodi region are being converted to vineyards which are not flooded and do not provide the same feeding and habitat as a flooded field. When fields are flooded, it is loaded with critters and grain that the omnivorous sandhill cranes feed on.  They also use sandbars and flooded fields for sleeping (a predator would have a hard time sneaking up on crane when it is surrounded by water).  Furthermore, with vineyards, there is nowhere to land or feed.

Lodi seems to be at a crossroad between celebrating the arrival of a bird through the town's successful annual homage to the sandhill crane and the wealth and fame that wineries bring to a region.  It is yet another example of choosing what is more important to us: preserving what is left of our heritage (land and nature) or developing the fertile land for economic reasons.  I love wine but I love birds a lot more.  I hope Lodi chooses birds too.

No comments: