Wolves Change Rivers

A number of years ago, Yellowstone National Park began to experience a decline in wildlife and vegetation. Grasslands were overrun with an increasing population of deer and elk, leaving the land barren. The exhausted soil could not support new growth, causing riverbanks to collapse and root systems to fail. Gradually, the intertwined ecosystems began to deteriorate.

Counter intuitively, it was the timely addition of an unpopular predator that led not to further destruction, but to a healthy resurgence. After many years, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, launching what ecologists refer to as a trophic cascade.

A single pack of wolves began to thin out deer and elk herds. But hunting their natural prey was not their only contribution. The wolves’ presence alone shifted the migration patterns of the deer, giving grasslands and prairies time to regrow. Trees were given time to sprout new buds – some quintupling in size. New forests literally began to take root. The new trees and shrubs provided habitats for rabbits, muskrats, and gophers. Beavers had new timber to build dams, which created pools and gullies for fish and frogs to multiply. The presence of these small animals attracted eagles and hawks back to the area.

Perhaps most significantly, the new growth changed the ground itself. The rejuvenated soil strengthened the riverbanks, increasing the volume and speed of the river. Gradually the river carved out new areas and patterns of flow.

A single pack of wolves changed the physical geography of Yellowstone National Park.

This trophic cascade seems to suggest that the Lord orchestrated His creation in such a way that a small group, simply doing what they were created to do, has the power to change entire landscapes. Can it be, under the sovereignty of God and the leading of the Spirit, that a small group of sports professionals, simply by doing what they love to do, could see the spiritual landscape of entire regions change? Could we see places of spiritual oppression, economic decline, and political corruption sprout new life – and that life protect and provide for other new life to the extent that a gospel culture takes root and changes the very foundations of earth?

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.”  Isaiah 43:19-21
Bubby Bryan, DOC
Uttermost Sports