Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Dubious Power of Man

The farm where I grew up, that I have talked about so much over the past months, sits at the base of a large hill. Up one side of this hill a 4 lane highway runs north and south. The hill was actually somewhat re-engineered when the highway was upgraded from two to four lanes. Running east and west over the hill, is a fairly heavily used and fairly wide gravel road. A rail track runs around the west side of the hill, following the north/south highway. A thick but shallow ravine runs down this western side of the hill, and during spring thaw much water runs down this ravine and out over the farmland (belonging to a neighboring farmer of the large-scale industrial sort) which is immediately at the base of the hill, and then down over our last field, before emptying across our pasture into the lake.

I have always remembered a stand of trees that stood to the northwest, starting just beyond the gravel road on our side of the hill. As a matter of fact, I think I have a picture of it.

Well yesterday, when I looked off in that direction...I thought the view seemed odd. But then, all the snow on the ground seemed a bit odd too, as did the sub freezing temperature. I think my mind just registered the odd view as heavy cloud cover but when dad later asked me if I noticed the bush was gone, well I suddenly realized why it seemed odd.

Yep, that old stand of trees is gone, and its only been 2 days since I was out there...

I guess someone is putting an acreage there and the stand was in the way. I wonder if they have any idea how significantly that changes the northern view from our place. That hillside was so stark against the steel gray sky.

That might seem like something of a selfish comment but the year 2009 has been one of quite a lot of tree stand removal in the immediate area. Back in the early spring I wrote of the destruction of a stand on land that was in my family until just a few months before that, in order to expand the local landfill. A few other stands were removed or cut back significantly in order to make room for the Alaska highway Grande Prairie ByPass expansion this summer. This mess is 4 miles from us and is also removing my quiet backroad route out to the farm. Another big stand was cut way back earlier this spring, nearer to town. I'm not sure of the purpose for this one. And these are just the ones I know of because they are immediate to my view.

It still amazes me how quickly we can rip through a stand of trees nowadays, indeed how quickly we can reconfigure the terrain of an area. There is usually an aspect of order to what results but there is no longer room for diversity or healthy balance. And how many trees are being replanted to make up for those destroyed? What is the true cost of these projects?

To be fair, we did some "reconfiguring" at the farm this summer too. A new well was dug and trenching laid in, so that Mom and Dad could finally have running water to their house. Yes, the house I grew up in was unplumbed and the house they live in now had only outgoing plumbing until now (although we are still waiting for a pump so that the installation can be finished. We also re-channeled the spring run off creek that runs through our yard, in order to alleviate spring flooding. It would have been nice to put in a pond attached to this creek, especially since that part of the yard is shaping up to be "Fowl Land", but money doesn't grow on trees and I just didn't feel like digging it out by hand and by myself. The time was better spent on other tasks anyway.

I am worried that we might need to do one more round of this before winter sets in, as the water line trench needs leveling, and a load or two of gravel should go down. I doubt the tractor bucket could handle the trench leveling over the driveway, as it has been so well packed by now. I'm a little bit pissed off that the trencher left it this way, a big fucking lump across the driveway. I am not sure what he thought we wanted to do with it. We should have said something, I know, but still...

Wow, how did this end up ranting about contractor stuff? But then, did I mention we're still waiting for a well pump, over a month later, and after having received a bill for said pump?


Peace and comfort to all, though, even contractors. I am one after all, after a manner.


Aimee said...

There is nothing that disturbs me as much as the removal of trees, especially mature trees. At this point in Earth's history, I think we can all agree that we need a hell of a lot MORE trees, not less. I've never been directly responsible for cutting down trees: ie, I haven't done it myself, but of course as a modern american I am probably responsible for something like 1,000 trees/annum. Last year I planted six trees, and I plan to plant six or ten more before the end of the year. There is a "billion tree project" or something like that - 7 billion? folks trying to get several billion trees planted by 2010 to help mitigate climate change. I signed up for 5. If you google it, it will show up.

linda said...

That is horrible about the trees. Nobody thinking of the long term consequences. In cities, at least in my city, trees are sacred. They don't get removed unless seriously diseased and even then, they send out tree doctors first. Construction requires that if you take down a tree you have to plant some back. But I notice that in the country, its a different game, one that I'm still getting used to.
I totally relate on the pump issue. We got ours right a few days after the well was dug but that was because the diggers arranged it for us. It looks like they did a great job with the digging in comparison to ours. Just wait for the pump diggers though! It will look like the trench digger came back!

Jerry said...

I'm with you Aimee, though I have cut down plenty of standing deadwood. I would love to be planting trees just for the hell of it, but in needing to sort the income thing out of the things I am looking at in deciding whether to take over the farm and in what direction to aim it, is a carbon credit farm...planting and tending a planned forest.

But yes, I am totally in support of any and all reforestation efforts.

Linda, I don't think we'll need to worry about a pump digger. Its going to be a submersible which just drops down the well I understand anyway. That's how the one well we have is set up. One thing I want to be looking at though, is having the ability to turn it into a hand pumped well...just in case.

I'm glad to know that Chicago holds trees up so high. I hope the residents do as well as the City itself. I know most cities try to keep their sidewalk trees healthy but I think most residents are happy to cut them down for more lawn space or what-have you. It was certainly the case in Edmonton, although Edmonton IS a fairly well treed city, having a lovely river valley through its middle.

MoonRaven said...

I agree with Aimee and linda--the world needs more trees, not less!

I'm sorry to hear that you are losing your trees--especially so that more roads and highways can be built.

On the other hand, planting and tending a planned forest sounds like a lovely thing to do. I hope that it works out for you.

linda said...

Well for a large city, I think most do appreciate the trees we have. It gets hot enough that we see the need but some of the elders seem to hate trees in yards because the roots destroy their foundations eventually or interfere with plumbing. The city has a training program for citizens who want to take care of curbside trees so that is good. I think we have 4 million trees all up and that includes protected native forests. So not bad at all. My nemesis, the Mayor, has aspirations of becoming the greenest city in the world so those who want to knock down trees have a huge force to contend with.