Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees
There’s good conservation and bad conservation. Good conservation is concerned with the real balance between nature and real life. Bad conservation isn’t really concerned about nature; it’s a misanthropic movement to establish global tyranny.
Mother Nature, as we saw this weekend, is a ruthless environmentalist. A few seasons, she sent a small tornado through New York’s Westchester County, felling over 300 trees on the ironically-named Saw Mill River Parkway. This weekend, she swept through the small towns of Marysville and Henryville, Indiana, taking out a carefully-preserved state forest, specifically set aside to protect the trees.
Clearly, Mother Nature has her own ideas about conservation.
Last autumn, a rare winter storm blasted through the Northeast, devastating countless trees, including a long-standing tree in the Tree Hater’s yard (Mom’s next-door neighbor). The storm took off so many branches that the tree looked like a telephone pole. With that many branches gone, the tree simply couldn’t survive. This weekend, the neighbor had a tree service come and take the tree down. Though he is a tree-hater, who took down every single tree on his lot, no one could blame him; the tree was shedding more branches and bark, a sure sign that the tree is dying.
However, he also forced my mother to allow the tree service to take branches off my mother’s tree because they overhung his property. The branches were no danger to anyone. He was just exercising his “property rights”. In Mom’s town, neighbors have the right to tell you to cut off tree limbs that overhang their property. This pruning will eventually kill my mother’s tree, which is still a young tree. She asked him why, if he disliked trees so much, he bought property in a wooded area, on a hill, no less; why didn’t he go live in the desert?
On the other side of her house is an older tree. Mom is an astute tree observer and knows the tree will not survive much longer. That’s the thing about trees; we who love them also know that they don’t last.
Clearly the Tree-Hater sees that my mother is a nature-lover and is out to prove that he is not and that he intends to exercise his property rights to their fullest. Mom is an avowed political conservative. She is also a natural conservative. During her career at Dodge Reports, she reported on stories about housing developments during the Forties and Fifties. One developer was clear-cutting a great swath of forest land. It was easier to bulldoze all the trees than build the houses around them.
She observed to that developer that clear-cutting the property would result in soil erosion and flooding due to paving and the loss of the trees to hold back the water. The developer shrugged. When she was shopping for our house, she chose a development where the developer did not clear-cut the land but left as many trees intact as possible.
When my brother built his house in Oak Ridge, my mother advised him to leave as much of the woodland in place as possible. In building his house, Big Brother observed the tallest tree in front, measuring about 90 feet, and built the house that much farther back on the property. The tree did come down in a wind storm, as trees often do; it’s top branches came to the very doorstep, but did not damage the house itself, nor was anyone injured.
Agenda 21 communists see great opportunity in the tall problems of Northern New Jersey’s Highlands. It’s a great opportunity for regulations the region doesn’t really need, and which corrupt local officials flout anyway. Not only is this area home to woodlands; it’s home to a huge reservoir, and property owners know very well that there’s not supposed to be any building on watershed land. We don’t need Smart Growth to “help” us.
Years ago, in the Sixties, a local cabbage farmer sold his property to a developer. The property was clearly in a flood plain; the river is right there. Still, some knuckle-headed, venal official was bought off, and the first strip mall was built there. One anchor store after another made its money there, stayed in business until they found the flooding inconvenient for business, packed up and fled, and sold to the next unsuspecting store chain. A&P is the current tenant, with no plans to return to that location.
Down the highway and down the river, another piece of property that was a lake was filled in, guaranteeing that the highway would flood. It is now the site of a hotel known for its wedding receptions. Except for when the road floods and guests can neither get in nor out.
Older residents say that flooding occurred in this area years before the Marxists caught on that the area was a prime target for environmental activism. The region’s problems are certainly not the result of global warming; they’re the result of a departing glaciers thousands and thousands of years ago. People did start moving here once the George Washington Bridge was capable of bearing greater traffic loads. They sought to escape the high crime, crowding, and taxes of New York City and her suburban counties.
The locals of that time were not happy to see the new arrivals. No one ever is. Our development was medium-density, meaning that no house took up great swaths of land, and mindful of the need for trees. But as times changed, and trees aged, more people took down trees either because they got in the way of swimming pools and satellite dishes, or because they were aged, or because the owners simply didn’t want to rake leaves. Those are the people who should take advantage of Gov. Christie’s generous offer of high-density, urban housing.
There are still plenty of homeowners who enjoy having their own homes and tending their own yards and gardens, and are willing to do the work. They live here because they do like the wider streets and greater space. Well, that is until they decide to build extensions on their houses, turning the neighborhoods back into the crowded neighborhoods they fled.
No one can argue that it would be a better idea for the Tree Hater to go live in a Smart Growth community. The problem is with increasing levels of bureaucratic governments making those decisions for us. The problem is with corrupt local officials who look the other way when neighbors violate clearly stated zoning laws and accept hand-outs from developers to build malls in flood plains (Willowbrook Mall is an example, writ large).
The problem is with citizens who don’t make it their business to keep an eye on their local governments. If we don’t start keeping tabs on them, Big Brother Government will. Big Brother will have the authority to not only keep their eye on Tree Haters, but on everything we have and do in our homes, from our washing machines, to our shower heads (they’re already there on that one; you can only buy one type of showerhead now), to our air conditioners.
West Milford residents been battling their town council for years over a developer that wants to build 400 units of condos in the town when the water table is too low to support it. West Milford residents don’t need to be lectured about conservation or over-development. They already know. West Milford is in the Highlands Region. So far, they’ve been successful in keeping the development from occurring.
We can take care of ourselves, thank you very much. Unfortunately, younger citizens have been brainwashed by the Smart Growth initiative into believing this is a job for Super Government. They’ve backed down here in New Jersey due to the pushback, promising that the planning will be done at the local.
That is the key promise of the United Nation’s ICLEI. This is not a bottom-up plan, no matter how they sanitize it. It is a global movement to take away all property rights because of a few tree haters who cut down all the trees and brainwashed young adults can’t see the forest of bureaucratic tyranny for the tree haters.