Friday, April 20, 2012
Kitty Creek destruction and native plants featured in Aubrey James Shepherd's Fayetteville Public Television shortake segment April 22-27, 2012
I have photos of many fires such as David describes and have ranted fruitlessly on the subject for decades. Everything from Aspen Ridge developers having thousands of trees (including a 90-foot-tall, 7 stemmed willow growing in a year-round wetland area) in 2005 to farmers, ranchers, and home-owners who simply don't know any reason not to burn any and all objects rather than put them in recycling bins or garbage cans.
As I recall, the state legislature actually outlawed all outdoor burning (excluding barbecue pits and such) decades ago but a later legislature weakened the law to allow burning of 'construction waste' and land-clearing waste for any purpose after complaints from the greedy or uninformed few. Most people don't burn needlessly because they rightfully fear wildfire that often occurs after intentionally set fires.
The waste of wood of great potential is illogical, of course. If it must be cut, it should be used effectively, which means heating a building or cooking food or warming while camped out in a designated area or any of the ways human beings have used wood for countless centuries.
Even controlled burning with firefighters available for prairie restoration isn't necessarily a carbon-neutral undertaking.
A few years ago, a Ph.D. candidate at the UA presented findings of his several years of study including a wide search of available literature confirming that the fast regeneration of native prairie plants after restoration-purposed burning resulted in carbon sequestration that appeared to offset the carbon released during the burn but stated that, after the first three or four years of regrowth, the level of carbon sequestration dissipated to a level that suggested that such burning actually ended up having a negative air-quality effect. And, of course, burning large trees and the big brush piles where thickets formerly stood results in even greater air pollution.
Convincing city officials that what scientists at state and federal agencies such as ADEQ, EPA and Corps of Engineers have consistently told me and others about environmental regulation for decades is correct seems difficult. When asked, the federal bureaucrats holding titles that suggest they can protect and must protect the environment, tend to say that their mandate is only to do certain things (witness ADEQ officials being unable to protect UNDERGROUND water, thus allowing fracking and related pumping of waste chemicals into the ground to go unchecked) But they end up saying "Your city can pass and ENFORCE stronger regulations to protect your residents and natural resources." The scientists working for most such agencies KNOW what is right but can't say "DEMAND YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS pass rules that let us do the right thing. But most will share facts that help people who care take their activism to a new level of effectiveness with a new level of confidence. Did you really listen to the ADEQ speakers at the water-quality meeting a few months back in Fayetteville? Just watching their faces one could see that they WANT effective legislation to allow them to do what their training has made them know is right.
Maybe because whatever rules are enforced offend a few, some local politicians are more comfortable saying ''we are only following a state or federal mandate.' But the most progressive, effective environmental laws in the U.S. are those in major cities where in some cases pollution and related problems long ago got so bad they were dangerous to the health of the majority of residents or in cities where the educational level of the residents seems to allow public pressure to push past the politics of "please the greedy" and reach a new level of protecting air, water, soil, public health and quality of life.
Thanks for sharing and caring,
Aubrey James Shepherd
Case in point: The dredging and widening and pouring of limestone gravel base material to be followed by concreting the former stream bed of Kitty Creek, a tributary of Mud Creek, itself a tributary of Clear Creek, itself a tributary of the Illinois River, itself a tributary of the Arkansas River, itself a tributary of the Mississippi River and during high water a tributary of the Atchafalaya River (both silt and sewage conduits to the Louisiana Gulf Coast. For photos of what was occurring Thursday and will be continuing Monday at where Kitty Creek flows under Joyce Avenue (aka Joyce Boulevard) please use the following links to the bottom portion of the Illinois River watershed set on Flickr and related videos on You Tube.