Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

This used to be the view from my kitchen window.
We live in beautiful Park County Colorado.  Up until today this blog has never said one negative thing about what a spectacular area this is.  But, today I wake up with a very heavy heart, and to some that may seem very melodramatic when you hear this is about some trees, but it is about our trees, and quite a few of them at that!  Trees that we live with and trees that we love.  Trees that we have watched grow with our children, and have even compared their growth against pictures we have gotten from the family of the original owner of this ranch, Charlie Royal.
If you look in the left corner you will see the road, many of these trees are gone now.

See, many months ago I wrote our local newspaper editor a letter after our entire neighborhood had been unsuccessfully attempting to reach the road and bridge department for many months.  We have huge potholes in our road that have become hazards to residents and visitors alike.  As you know, Tom and I take care of the campgrounds and have our B&B up this road and I mentioned in my letter to the editor that if the road is inaccessible to visitors so is the revenue to our local businesses.  Well, it must have gotten the attention of one of our esteemed commissioners, because the very same weekend that my letter appeared in the paper I got a call from him and at first I was quite honored.  I got the usual, well, we have to fix the roads in the order of priority, and we're doing the best we can, etc.  It was all going just fine until we were hanging up and he said, feel free to call me... this is just not the kind of thing we work out in the paper.
Obviously, that was the end of the conversations between him and I; because last I heard I have some pretty well protected freedoms.  The potholes were fixed pretty quickly and some pavement had been marked further up by the campground so we knew at least some planning was being made, so I was content.  That was until yesterday.  I was downstairs working on my computer when I heard the crew working in front of the house.  I went to see what was going on and to my horror they were cutting huge trees down and just chipping them away!  I went running out there to ask what they were doing and was told they were taking everything ten feet on either side of the road for the big equipment coming in for the repaving project.  I was just sick.  I felt as if the whole thing was my fault for writing that damn letter in the first place.
I also felt that the removal of the trees was particularly harsh on my property lines and views, compared to that of my neighbors, but hopefully that is just emotion talking.  We lost over twenty trees, ranging from 3 inches in diameter to 12 inches in diameter.  Most of them were big beautiful healthy pines, but a few of them were aspens that of course will come right back, thankfully.  One of the things that I am struggling with most is that I did nothing to stop them, and believe me I thought of everything.  I even thought of running out there naked thinking who on earth is going to mess with a crazy naked lady?
I knew that the road crew was only doing what they had orders to do.  I had orders to be at the middle school to be selling dance tickets for tonight's big event.  But when I got home and Thomas, my sixteen year old and I went out to take some pictures of the horrific damage I couldn't help but shed some tears and feel ashamed that I had done nothing to stop them from raping my neighborhood.
This is the view out my kitchen window now.

"Mom, you should have held a peaceful protest!" said Thomas.  "I know honey, but I probably would have ended up getting arrested."  "Well, Mom, Rosa Parks was arrested, sometimes that's what's needs to happen, this is real bull."  "Dad and I don't have the money to get into a battle, and we would lose anyway, our trees are gone, and there is nothing we can do about it."  Do I still feel the same way today, NO!!!  I feel like I want to go back out there and chain myself to some of those trees further up the road that are still on the hit list!
You know, I pride myself on trying to be a logical person, I understand about progress.  In my letter my complaint had nothing to do with the width of the road; as a matter of fact I mentioned that the accidents that were almost happening were being caused by people who were passing the slow moving campers that were avoiding the huge potholes.  Plenty wide to pass should mean plenty wide to repave, without the removal of half of the forest in my opinion, especially with the century old equipment that our county has.  Even if they had contracted out the work, as they sometimes do, I know that the locals would much rather deal with road closures than deal with the massive loss of trees that we are seeing.
The other half logical thought I had was that if those trees absolutely had to go, it sure would have been a nice jump on next years' firewood.  For a family of five who struggles each year to heat their large, very old home with wood, it made me absolutely, physically ill to see those huge healthy trees to be put through a chipper.  Yes, I understand that for liability sake the county could not let us cut them down, but what a waste of perfectly good wood.  And, what took them all day, Tom could have done in a couple of hours, our llamas and sheep could have eaten all of the pine needles and loved every minute of it (along with getting some great nutrition) and we would have had kindling for years to come.  We would have used every single piece of those trees!!!
I guess the earth loving, tree hugging part of me is just screaming out that something is definitely wrong with this picture.  And I just can't get past the feeling that I am being punished and that I should have done more...
What's that old saying...No use crying over spilled milk?


Daisy said...

Oh, dear! This is awful! Road crews and trees;they just don't get it.

Daisy said...

It won't replace the trees, but it may bring you a little sunshine: there's an award for you on Compost Happens. Stop by when you get a chance!

lfhpueblo said...

Yep, even in our community they have the right away (I think it's twelve feet) to do whatever they want on either side of the roadways. So most people, not all, just don't do anything in that area in front of their homes other than lay rock there so the soil doesn't wash away, erode with the rain or snow. When they go to repave you can be pretty sure that extra footage will not be paved. They'll probably only pave the original spacing of the road.