Shasta Bioregion

What is the Shasta Bioregion?

Bioregions are distinct geographic areas with interconnected plant and animal communities, often defined as a watershed. They are separate living parts of the unified planetary biosphere. The Shasta Bioregion is bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sierra Nevada, the Klamath-Siskiyous, south to at least San Francisco Bay and perhaps as far as the Tehachapi Mountains. In the north, Mount Shasta rises as the sacred symbol of the bioregion, a place of pure waters and new visions.

From Shasta Bioregional Gathering 5
September 4-7, 1997, at Patrick’s Point State Park

Highlights From the Gathering
Annie Pyatak

This year’s Shasta Bioregional Gathering provided a chance for long-time bioregional activists to assemble and a platform on which young enthusiasts could express their ideas. The featured events were a vital mix of the practical and the spiritual, emphasizing the fact that it will take a great deal of physical, mental and emotional work to restore the health of Shasta Bioregion.

The panels and workshops set the mood of the occasion. The creative energy, expressed through dance, poetry, storytelling, theater, and music, strengthened the spirits of all in attendance. Most importantly, the Gathering’s restoration theme resonated the importance of balance and understanding, a need for truth and a desire to fix the things that are wrong with our patterns of living.

This event was highly inspiring. Presenters integrated detailed reports of their watersheds into their talks, offering attendees valuable updates on the health of the various parts of the bioregion. The strong emphasis on practical, hands-on restorative practices, combined with a communial dedication to fun and acceptance left everyone feeling physically, spiritually and psychologically nourished. The fact that several hundred people came together to lend their best efforts in support of bioregional health affirms that our devotion to place is worthwhile, and, as Freeman House says, “the work is its own reward.”

The following articles provide only a glimpse of the diversity of the presentations made throughout the four-day event, and do not do justice to the age, gender, artistic and cultural diversity present there. If you want to know more about the annual SGB, contact Planet Drum Foundation. It’s an event to attend in the future!

Why did we title it “Restoring Watersheds, Communities & Ourselves”?
Planet Drum Foundation

“There were two main flows of activity and thought heading into this year’s Shasta Bioregional Gathering. One was the strong resident restoration ecology movement in the northern coastal area of California composed of groups such as the Mattole Watershed Council and a half-dozen others. The second was the large number of state-of-the-art professionals in eco-restorative fields related to fish, forests, streams, and soil who also live in the area and work on projects like Redwood National and State Parks.”

Restoring Sacredness to Places
Chris Peters

“Ceremony evolves in a bioregion; the kind of ceremony that is accepted by everyone -- not only environmentalists, but businesses and whatever else exists in the community. That type of community-binding happens only when a population embraces ceremony.”

The State of the System
Bill Devall

“... In many aspects this bioregion has been a colony of national and increasingly globalized economies over the past 150 years. It is an open question whether regional political and cultural autonomy can be maintained in the face of the forces of globalization....
   The principles and practices of eco-forestry, fisheries restoration, wildlands protection, enforcement of state and federal regulations to protect wildlife habitat, and community-building efforts are being articulated throughout the bioregion in effective ways. Hopefully, a commitment toward these various ecosophies will form a basis for cultural transformation, resulting in a restorative community that exists in a healthy bioregion.”

The Spirit of Restoration
Freeman House

“The beauty of hands-on watershed restoration is that it allows the place itself to become our teacher. As we engage the particulars of our places, we begin to relearn how to live in a context that has always been there but has in modern times become all but invisible.”

Eco-regional Reflections
Seth Zuckerman

“It isn’t enough to tear down the old myths and reveal the ambiguity of what we once saw as heroism. It’s up to us to celebrate, revere and even mythologize the acts that are building a new, reinhabitory future.
   There is greater splendor elsewhere. Shasta Bioregion is a little short on old-growth forests just now, on pristine watersheds, on thck salmon runs. No granite fjords or tidewater glaciers. But nowhere have I found a stronger community of people working to protect its place, fiercely and tenderly, with insight and joy.”

What We Have in Common is the Salmon: The Mattole Watershed, California
Chapter 8 from the book, The Ecology of Hope: Communities Collaborate for Sustainability,
by Ted Bernard and Jora Young

“There are no cities or towns in the Mattole Valley. To get to the tiny villages of Petrolia and Honeydew takes an hour of careful driving on some of the most spectacular of North American roads, wending their way over the Coast Range. When the builders of Highway 1, the coastal route north from San Francisco, encountered the Mattole's mountainous and tectonically alive terrain, they gave up and fumed the road eastward to join interior Highway 101. The Mattole makes Virginia's Eastern Shore seem readily accessible. It's an isolated place, strangely sequestered, a lost coast and a valley of incomparable beauty. ...

... David Simpson, new to the valley in the '70s, told us that king (or chinook) salmon runs, which were reckoned by the Department of Fish and Game to be more than 30,000 in the mid-'60s and were probably a few thousand when he first arrived, had dwindled by the late '70s to a few hundred at most. "The absence of big numbers of fish really got our attention," he said. Though there were forces at sea undoubtedly contributing to the decline, Simpson and a group of newcomers were convinced that the river's bad health was a primary contributing factor. Without places to spawn, they reasoned, the salmon would have no chance whatsoever.

In 1981 Simpson, Freeman House and others formed the Mattole Watershed Salmon Support Group (now called Mattole Salmon Group- MSG) and pledged to restore the run.”