The Erosion of Local Nature

Local nature; the little natural treasures that can be found in and around our towns and neighborhoods. From a line of trees planted for a wind break along a rural road to a vacant lot with a small, sparkling creek flowing through it to an abandoned pasture rich in high grass to an old rail line converted to trail. There’s a lot of it around here, but it’s vanishing at an accelerating rate. Since that vanishing is often taking place on private land, there’s not much we can do about it except note its benefits to the community and its inevitable passing as it succumbs to the saw, bulldozer and encroaching population.

Every day sees a loss of our local nature, from windmills now marring some of the best scenery in the state to the felling of trees and building of mega-homes on forested lots to the construction of retail stores on pasture land in the Kittitas Valley. Every time a mature tree falls, it will be 60-100 years before a new one can replace it, and most of the time when trees are cut down, it’s because something man-made is replacing it, whether it be a home or a new store or restaurant.

We’re told that in order for our local economy to be healthy it must keep growing, so we need more stores, more gas stations, more motels, more fast food joints, more latte stands, more roads, more homes, more tourists, more residents. All of this “more” should naturally make us wonder if there is any limit or will we be “mored” right into being the overcrowded, over-busy maze that many west side towns and cities have become. So trees keep falling, pastures keep getting buried under fill and flagged stakes appear in fields to mark their imminent disappearance. Along with the landscape, those who live in it disappear too, or adapt and are called pests. Raccoons, porcupines, deer, bears, bobcats, coyotes, curlews, hawks, skunks, snakes, lizards, frogs, etc.. More local nature lost. And then there’s the local human residents, who find themselves financially unable to continue living in their own homes due to increasing property taxes and other fees brought about by increases in property values brought about by development. Gentrification is a whole other subject, though it often accompanies the destruction of local nature.

Treasure those little natural bits that linger in our communities. Treasure and enjoy them and hope they stay a little longer.

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