On the margins

Posted by Ken Campbell September 28, 2011 2 Comments 1024 views

I’m working on a short review of the Mowich Lake area for a different website. Going over my notes, trying to pick the right superlatives to describe what is a picturesque and unique location… and I can’t shake the idea that, although I’m not being untruthful, exactly, I’m also not telling it like it is. When I say that the Mowich area is stunningly, achingly beautiful, that is undeniably true. But it leaves out the fact that there is so much more out there, more that I have never even seen, that few others have ever seen, that is even more amazing.
And it is all so amazingly fragile.
And meanwhile, out on the Olympic Peninsula, there is a plan afoot to add 37,000 acres (or 37 zillion acres, whatever), to the National Park. Wild rivers that are currently under private control, remote tracts of land that are mostly of interest to hunters and timber rangers… it seems they might be in “danger” of being put into the public domain. Jobs are at stake here – as they always are – and, if some folks are to be believed, the guv’mint is out to git the little guy, as it always seems to be.
I don’t know. Nothing. Or next to nothing, anyway. Here’s what I do know: we – and when I say “we,” I mean us collectively, as American human beings, carbon-based life-forms breathing the same common air – we, need to be very careful about claiming as our own those things we did not produce. Forests, clean rivers, things like that. Things that we not only did not make, but that, if they were to be somehow eliminated, we could not reproduce.
There is an active element of the general population that will always believe they are entitled to trees they did not plant. Entitled to fish that were born running through oceans and streams they never understood, and still don’t. Who claim as personal entitlement the very minerals that lie under the ground they live on, as if they had some part in putting them there.
Yeah, this whole scheme may cost jobs, this land reassignment idea out on the far-westerly chunk of the continent. But don’t forget, more loggers were put out of work by the invention of the chain saw than by any spotted owl. Jobs aren’t the be-all and end-all, far from it. We don’t just want jobs; we want lives, and somewhere worthwhile to live them.

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