Sunday, February 27, 2011

Public education on conservation of natural resources never seems to be adequate

Fayetteville's proposed streamside ordinance has been modified to accommodate so many minor concerns that anyone who actually reads it and hears the staff and city attorney's explanation would wonder what Joe Alexander was talking about in his letter to the editor of the local newspapers yesterday.
However, his points bring up many problems.
A basic problem is that talking about owning water that flows by one's property or across one's property or under one's property is about as logical as talking about owning the wind that blows across one's property or the sun that shines upon us.
Every living thing depends on air and water and soil. We consume water and air directly and everything we eat comes from soil and water. Without our perfect distance and relationship with the sun there could be no life on this planet.
This ordinance is an attempt to protect those basics of life for all.
Some critics of the ordinance say that the city should try education first. That comes from people who have ignored the vast amount of information on conservation of natural resources that is available and has been widely available for a long time.
At age 70, I feel like I have been trying to educate people on such matters for a century.
One friend and neighbor of mine actually advocates turning the stream behind his house into a paved ditch. Only yesterday he referred to the paved ditches in Springdale and Rogers as examples of how those cities effectively manage their stormwater. I pointed out that both of those cities have been trying to restore some of those streams for several years.
The man's house is among the three in the neighborhood most threatened by flooding, something not mentioned by the proposed ordinance even though flood reduction is a major benefit provided by streamside buffers. But my friend never spoke at public meetings when we were fighting the developers who have increased the threat immensely in recent years. He didn't speak up against the high-school expansion plan that is eliminating even more absorbent soil upstream with only a big concrete structure underground that will have minimal capacity to slow runoff that will continue to threaten his property. Developers and growth-at-any-cost enthusiasts have been taking away his property rights for decades and his response even now is to write letters to city council members to protest implementation of an ordinance that he should have been begging for starting the day he bought the house.
But Joe Alexander rightly mentions pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer. Obviously, they should not be used near a stream. But where should they be used? I don't use them at all!!
Most such substances should NOT be manufactured at all.
But our monoculture agricultural practices depend on such. Our wildlife, from the bottom of the food chain up, and our descendants will suffer from their use.
A few years ago, I asked professor Doug James to name the greatest problem on earth. He replied, "overpopulation." I asked "what about global climate change."
He replied, "That is a symptom of overpopulation."
I read Malthus' treatise on population when I was in elementary school in the  1940s! I imagine that Dr. James read it before that. But our city is discussing a plan for growth through the year 2030 without mentioning overpopulation. The idea that sustainable growth is possible is unrealistic, but it allows those who would profit in the short term to pretend to be benefactors of mankind.
It is sad that the majority of people simply don't realize that almost everything we have today is not a necessity.
The rest of God's "creatures" live within their inherent limits, while we fight nature and fight one another and squander our resources.
The streamside ordinance is a way to make up for our past failures in a very small, inexpensive way.

Support Streamside Protection! 
See it through to the end!  The Council still needs to hear from you.
Protecting streams makes economic sense!
Here is your chance to make a difference!
What is a riparian zone?
The Streamside Protection Ordinance establishes a list of land uses that help to establish riparian buffer zones.  A riparian buffer zone is an area of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation adjoining and upgradient of streams and other surface water bodies. It intercepts surface runoff, subsurface flow, and deeper ground water flows and thereby buffers the effects of nutrients, sediment, organic matter, pesticides or other pollutants before they enter a stream (Welsch, 1991).
Actions you (and your friends) can take to make this succeed:
Attend: 6:00pm on March 1st at City Hall on Mountain Street in Fayetteville, AR.  This will be the third reading!
Email the City Council members. Use and ask that your message be forwarded to the Council members and to Mayor Jordan.  The mayor supports this and is a sponsor. 
Call the Council Members. A list of email and phone numbers is at;
Reasons to act:
Creates a vegetative buffer along streams which holds soil in place and reduces pollutants.
Less expensive than mechanically stabilizing banks.
It protects our drinking water and our recreational areas.
Our vegetated streams are beautiful and preferable to cemented ditches that can result from not protecting streambanks with vegetation.
Other communities around the country are doing this, as well, because they see the economic (social, environmental, and financial) value of protecting riparian zones. 
  • Estimated increased property values as a result of riparian buffer vegetation on a property was $1,400 to $1,625 per property (Qui et al., 2006).
  • It costs $250/linear foot to restore streams and their banks (City of Fayetteville cost history).
  • Riparian areas can reduce the nitrogen concentration in water runoff and floodwater by up to 90 percent and reduce the phosphorous concentration by as much as 50 percent (NSF, 2006).
There is opposition to this.  The Council needs to hear your voices louder and clearer.  This protects property.  It limits activities in areas along streams in order to prevent pollution and erosion that we all pay for eventually.
This citizen-driven initiative is before us for the third time.  We need to see it through to the finish!  We've worked very hard together.  Please help it succeed.  If you have already contacted the Council it is acceptable and even ENCOURAGED to write, call, or come speak up again

Thank you. 

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