Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just what is 'available' land?

Western states like Idaho, which I now call home, are rich in public lands.
And they’re a heritage today’s older generation ought to be protecting at all cost – 100 percent – as a legacy for future generations.
Americans who remember the first Persian Gulf War ought to remember the late Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. A recent visit to the land/water/nature shop operated in Boise by our federal land management agencies yielded a copy of a wonderful poster titled “Wildlife and Wildlands.” It’s focused on quotes and ideas from the historic Army leader on the safe enjoyment of public land and the wildlife that lives on it.
The poster rightly focuses on the Pacific Northwest, but I’ll paraphrase the general, for his words and thoughts apply equally well to public lands in Pennsylvania and the rest of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Our wildlife in the Northeast – from the Jersey and New York shores across the Delaware and Hudson rivers and on into and beyond the Allegheny Mountains – is a heritage for which we are responsible.
As my Nescopeck-area friend Autumn has reminded me, “wild land is a treasure, not a ‘resource’.”
Schwarzkopf: “I encourage each and every one of you to practice and share with others the responsible stewardship techniques listed on this poster to help make your outdoor activities rewarding and safe for both you and our precious wildlife.”
That wildlife is not represented by just the always-diminishing population of grizzle bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. It’s also the woodland salamanders, wood frogs and American toads and red-eyed vireos of forest environs protected in places like Nescopeck and Ricketts Glen state parks.
Wildlife, though, pays no heed to the artificial boundary lines written on the land by human things like property deeds and the lines of incorporation created by the formal governmental standing of boroughs, townships and cities.
The slogan that appears on many states’ wildlife license plates – “Conserving Natural Resources” – ought to instead read: “Conserving our natural heritage.”
Long-distance walking and hiking are great times to think and ponder. That’s how it was the first time I trekked – both to burn calories and get out and explore a bit – out of Conyngham borough on East County Road.
And it’s the same notion that spurs me to go for long fitness walks today across local sections of the Great Basin Desert at Mountain Home, Idaho.
Among the questions I’ve considered on recent forays is this: What do folks think about as they carve out a new road, driveway and housing pad in what, until a bulldozer showed up, was wild land replete with native flora and fauna?
It would take many an interview and an armful of questionnaires to get anywhere near the point of answering that question.
But it remains something that not only borough council members and township supervisors should consider and think through before blessing more “development” of land that real estate posters describe as
"The things I feel very strongly about are education, the war on drugs, the environment and conservation and wildlife,” the general once told People magazine.

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