Have you missed Blue, Azure, Cobalt and Wise Owl these past several months? Black bears hibernate in the winter time, so the three bears have been fast asleep. Springtime brings the end of their hibernation: time for the bears to get back to their important work to save the Earth.
“It’s Spring! Who-o-o’s still sleeping?” Wise Owl hoots, flying through the dim light of the cave.
“Not us!” cry the Little Bears in unison. Wise Owl’s question serves as permission for them to pounce onto Blue Bear, who snores loudly.
Blue swats the air with a furry paw, missing both bear cubs. “Go back to sleep.”
Cobalt and Azure shout: “Wake up! Wake up!” as they bounce on Blue’s immense belly.
Harrumphing mightily, Blue rubs paws to eyes, slowly rolls into an upright position, then growls: “It doesn’t feel like Spring.”
Suddenly the air fills with high-pitched squeals: “It’s Spring! It’s Spring! Time for all bears to go into the sunshine. Time for all bears to get out of our cave!”
“Who said that?” cries Azure, paws over ears, for the squeals hurt little bears’ eardrums.
“The bats?” asks Blue. “Wise Owl, do you hear them? What are the bats carrying on about?”
Before Wise Owl can answer, a bat flaps across Blue’s nose. “Too crowded in here…” it squeals as it passes. In a great flurry, a cloud of bats surrounds the bears.
“Who-o-o will meet me outside?” Wise Owl asks, flying toward the mouth of the cave. All three bears scamper in the same direction.
On the hillside outside the cave, the spring sunshine feels warm and comforting on the bears’ winter-musty fur. After months in the cave’s darkness, each bear blinks against the brightness of the sun.
“I’ve never known the bats to be so inhospitable,” Blue Bear comments. “And so many of them. The inside of the cave looked like it was wall-papered with bats.”
“Who-o-o-o can blame the bats for protecting their cave? For your winter nap, Blue, you-ou-ou seem to have chosen one of the few safe caves in the area. Hundreds of thousands of bats have been displaced from their cave-homes. They had no choice but to bunk in your safe cave with you-ou-ou.”
“What makes our cave safer than all the rest?” Cobalt asks.
“Your cave is one of the few that has not yet been affected by the Pipeline,” Wise Owl replies. “Not yet, anyway, but who-o-o-o knows what will happen next.”
“The Pipeline…” groans Blue. “I was having such a good winter nap that I totally forgot about the Pipeline.”
“Well, those of us who-o-o-o have stayed awake all winter did not forget…” Wise Owl sighs. “We wish we could have forgotten, but the Pipeline is real and it leaves its mark wherever we look.”
“What has the Pipeline done to the other caves?” asks Azure.
“The Pipeline workers have dug huge ditches willy-nilly across the landscape. The trenches cut into the system of caves beneath the ground. Our land is honey-combed with caves, and we call this type of land ‘karst topography’. Anything that invades or injures one part of the karst topography can impact the other caves and underground streams that are connected to it. No one really knows how many miles of underground streams and caves are beneath our land or how they connect with each other. So when the workers cut into the karst, they also bring dirt and chemicals and other forms of pollution into the underground streams. Caves are not used to sunlight, so when the caves are cut open and the light gets into the caves, things start growing that don’t belong in caves. The cave environment changes, and creatures that make their homes in caves, like bats do, no longer can live there without getting sick.”
“Does the Pipeline go through the caves?” Cobalt asks.
“And there’s that,” Wise Owl answers. “Of course, if a Pipeline goes through a cave, the bats have to move because there is no more room for them, just as there may not be room for any underground trickles or streams that ran through the cave. So the water has to go somewhere else. And that can cause big problems.”
“What kind of problems?”
“Do-o-o you-ou-ou remember Forest Spring?”
“Yes! Let’s go there now!” Azure suggests. “It has the sweetest water on this side of the mountain.”
Wise Owl’s head shakes back and forth sadly. “It’s gone. It’s all dried up. The Pipeline cut off the underground stream that feeds Forest Spring.”
Big bear tears roll down Azure’s cheeks. “All this talk about water is making me very thirsty. If we can’t get a drink at Forest Spring, where can we get water?”
“Let’s try Rock Spring,” suggests Blue.
“You-ou-ou can try it,” Wise Owl replies, but I can tell you-ou-ou that it doesn’t look the same. And it’s a long walk for bears. Are you-ou-ou sure you’re up to it?”
“We need to stretch our winter legs,” Blue replies. “Let’s go.”
What will the Bears find when they reach Rock Spring? Just how much damage has the Pipeline done? Read the next post of Blue Bear’s Mission to Save the Earth We Share to find out…