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Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)

McCabe, Robert A.
The prehistoric engineer-farmers of Chihuahua,   pp. 75-90 PDF (6.1 MB)


Page 89

 1955] McCabe—Engineer-Farmers of Chihuahua 89 
"In the village where they had given us the emeralds, they also gave
Dorantes
[one of the party] over six hundred hearts of deer, opened, of which they
kept always a great store for eating. For this reason we gave to their settlement
the name of ' village of the hearts'." 
 Thus in this early period of recorded history it would seem that the native
populus kept the deer thinned down to a point where "trinchera-fields",
if
they existed, were not molested. While not wholly comparable, even today
where the itinerant lumber camp stays for a short period the deer are extirpated
from the surrounding area. This observation I recorded from Floyd Johnson,
our guide. 
 In no case in the several early accounts of this area by Spanish explorers
is mention made of the trinchera or check-dam. 
 The evidence, meager as it is, seems to indicate that deer and trinchera
fields occurred together but that the campesinos de la trincheras were not
wholly dependent on agriculture. The bow and arrow, spear, or similar weapon
may have been used to help provide the bulk of the edible protein and in
so ' doing would have eliminated the problem of deer depredation. If the
trees of our forests today were as important to all Americans as the corn
behind the trinchera was to its planter we would waste no time in dealing
with our present overpopulations of deer. 
 The western slope of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico still retains much
of its wild and primitive appeal for the naturalist. 
A. S. Leopold records this eloquently in his "Adios Gavilan".2'
 We cannot be complacent and assume that a wilderness will remain forever
wild and untouched. Even as this is written, battered lumber trucks rumble
over widened donkey trails bringing saws and sawyers to this virgin wilderness.
 The proverbial handwriting on the wall came to our camp with the rains.
The lumbering operations just beginning in the headwaters of the Gavilan
River changed our stream, where rainbow trout could be seen in the bottom
of four-foot poois, into an ugly brown torrent that rose three feet in a
matter of minutes. Such ushering of soil to the sea is rivaled only by some
of the most abused watersheds north of the border. 
 I cannot here discuss the "merits" of logging this region, but
even a layman
could see that this very young soil going downstream was the result of '
the
ax and saw. The loss of topsoil is blood letting for this already soil-poor
area. The loss of game and the changes in flora and fauna will doubtless
follow. The 
' ~ Pacific Discovery, Vol. 2, 1949, pp. 4—13. 


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