Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Walking through the woods on a snowy morning

I worked out in the field yesterday. On a site north of Harrisburg slated for development. Sometimes I don't like what I do, cause I'm pretty much the harbinger of doom. When I show up, the party's over.....the woods or field or whatever is gonna be visited by earthmoving equipment soon after. The site was hilly and wooded with some small wetland areas. It was very quiet with a little bit of snow on the ground.

It was cold, but I warmed up in a few minutes after walking around. When you do wetland delineations or environmental site assessments, and you find yourself crashing through brush on undeveloped land, white tail deer quickly become your best friends. It doesn't usually take long to find a deer trail, which are usually wide enough for a person and very direct. There must have been a lot of deer on this property, cause there were deer trails everywhere. Tons and tons of deer tracks. A red-tailed hawk and 'teenage' offspring were circling overhead, stopping every once in a while to see what I was doing, their calls pretty much the only noise other than what I was making. Chickadees and white-throated sparrows hopped about in thickets of multiflora rose. Songbirds in the woods, that don't often see people, get awfully close because they are so curious. It was a nice morning but I felt terrible because I know that by this time next year, it will be an office complex, completely paved over, with just some cookie cutter landscaping against the building's foundation. Nothing to give chickadees a place to flit about and no place for deer to make their trails, and nothing for the red tails to perch on other than telephone poles. I wonder if I will live to see Pennsylvania built out. Rutgers did a study in 2000 estimating that at the current rate of development in New Jersey, the state will be built out by 2015. All available land (that not under conservation easement or state park/natural area) will have been consumed by developers. That's amazing. Pennsylvania is obviously much bigger than Jersey, but we're 3rd in land consumption in the United States (and 48th in populatio growth) and it just seems that everything is getting developed. And there just doesn't seem to be much you can do. I save what I can, marking wetlands, determining endgangered/threatened species habitat, but if they aren't there, there isn't anything standing in the way. Sometimes it just gets depressing.


Anonymous Judith said...

I bet this job gets depressing. Where we have recently moved, the person who built the house we live in ( built 11 yrs ago) was one of the last houses in this section to slip in around the wetlands. There is responsibility to living here & a bit of sadness too that is mixed in w/a major goal to guard the wetlands & take care of them & learn as much about them as I can. Thanks for sharing your experience--I felt I was seeing what you saw as it is what I get to see where I live.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Sorry to hear about that aspect of your job... James used to work for an ag chemical company years ago, which was completely at odds with our way of life. I wish there were better options for people like you who have ecological backgrounds. At least you're able to save some bits from development.

9:55 AM  

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