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Twelve thousand years of indigenous land use maintained this pattern. As the world became more populated, and agriculture became more intensive, farmers came to the Driftless in search of fertile soil.It took only a few generations of woodland cutting, hard farming, and overgrazing before the blanket of soil, sod, and forest had been worn threadbare.As stewards of photosynthesis, farmers have the power to pull carbon out the atmosphere.
Ofte and Driftless farmers like him are already at work on this.
Well-managed pastures on grass-fed beef and organic farms help to build soils, even though this kind of agriculture faces pressures from forces that favor larger farms and confined livestock operations.
In August of 2018, I visited Rod Ofte, who farms with his family just outside of town, to hold a workshop that attracted farmers from all over the Midwest who wanted to learn about his innovative methods of holding on to soil.
Ofte, like his Coon Valley forebears, knows that healthy soil can buffer against floods.
Tainter Creek now has a farmer-led watershed council organized around preserving water quality, and a growing number of such groups are forming across Wisconsin.
In the Dust Bowl Era, Coon Valley residents rose to the occasion to find solutions to the climate crisis of their time.In its simplest form, disaster management can be classified into three phases – before, during and after the event.During the floods, the government of Kerala took all the possible measures to save lives and provide emergency assistance.The 2016 flash flood of Tainter Creek washed my own mother’s car off the road—with her in it.Thankfully, she was rescued from the rising waters by the village fire chief after being stranded in her car for a few terrifying hours.Now, the focus will shift to recovery and rehabilitation.But, before the state can start re-building infrastructure and communities, it will need to tackle one of the biggest problems that arises after a disaster of this magnitude – the amount of flood waste produced.Looking at the floods within our collective memory, and what these floods are doing to our communities in the Driftless, we see that the imperative is increasingly clear: we need to deal with our changing climate.The good news is that we can do more than retreat to higher ground.We are already witnessing this and it is imperative that Kerala deals with its waste situation immediately.Flood waste may be contaminated by hazardous materials, sewage, carcasses and medical waste.