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Wild 2.0 

Local photographer Talia Rose's little stretch of the river is changing

click to enlarge Fish make way for a passing otter on the South Fork Eel River on Aug. 23, 2022.

Photo by Talia Rose

Fish make way for a passing otter on the South Fork Eel River on Aug. 23, 2022.

For 16 years now, Talia Rose has spent nearly every morning walking a small stretch of the South Fork Eel River from the backyard of the cabin she calls home near the Humboldt-Mendocino county line and photographing what she finds. Primarily self-taught, it's a passion borne of patience, a deep connection with place and a perhaps deeper fascination with the various wildlife that share that place with her.

In the four years since the Journal first featured Rose's work ("Wild," Feb. 28, 2019), she says that place has also changed. Rose says she noticed the first such change in May of 2020, when she spotted something swimming upriver that was too big to be a mink and didn't swim like an otter.

"I thought, 'Oh my god, it's a beaver,' Rose says excitedly, adding that beavers had been considered extinct in the area since the fur trapping days but have begun to make a comeback, building various dams along the South Fork in recent years.

Rose says she's also witnessed the drought's profound impact in recent years, as the winter downpours that once swelled the river and scrubbed its bed of the debris, brush and seedlings turned to sprinkles that left the river banks cluttered, with new stands of alders stretching skyward. She says dried creeks and streams also likely sent a herd of wild pigs out of the hills and into the valley, where it has now proliferated, tearing up meadows and people's farms.

"They can have several litters of babies in a single year," Rose says. "It's become a real problem."

The wild turkeys — which she says she never used to see in the valley — are probably a similar story.

A brighter note, she says, are the Canada geese, an errant one or two of which used to be spotted along the river on occasion but in recent years have shown up in huge numbers.

Asked why all the changes in the place she's called home for more than 30 years, Rose doesn't hesitate.

"The climate is changing," she says. "All bets are off. Everything that was true a decade ago is no longer true, and everything is changing."

Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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