Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Balancing the green of money against the green of the environment

In Marin, an itsy bitsy little environmental storm is brewing over a 300 foot by 160 foot pond, bounded on one side by a freeway, on two sides by parking lots, and on the last side by a hotel complex. The hotel wants to fill in the pond so as to use it to create more parking and a gym facility. The greenies object:

The Audubon Society and Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed say there are a number of bird and plant species that flourish in the kidney-shaped, four-foot-deep pond. Some studies suggest at least 30 different species of birds use the pond.
It's true that the pond does see birds bopping around occasionally, and birds are lovely. However, there are a few other things to take into consideration. First, this is not a natural habitat. Instead, "[t]he pond is part of an old series of lagoons used for more than 50 years for flood control and storm water runoff." In other words, engineers created the pond after WWII for flood control. It's not a natural "natural habitat." Second, there are large nature areas on the other side of the freeway. Presumably, if the birds could find this manmade pond and make it their home, they'll be able to find the other spots too. Third, and last (and this is why I'm not at all siding with the greenies on this one), the pond stinks -- literally. It has no natural water source. Instead, it fills in during the rainy season, and then spends the rest of the year drying out until the next rainy season. It's a huge stagnant pool, and you can smell it a block away. It's also aesthetically disgusting because it's filled with garbage (which I suspect is blown by the wind off the freeway, rather than being deposited by miscreants). It's a blight. It's not the best use of land, some birds notwithstanding. If it were up to me, I'd rather see expensive, beautiful buildings occupying the spot and filling the town's coffers with property tax money. I'm not hostile to many environmental initiatives. For one thing, I'm selfish enough to enjoy the natural beauty of a community that has the money to leave land unused. I also believe that healthy nature is a necessary ingredient for a healthy earth. I don't think anyone in this day and age would quarrel with the clean air and water that environmental activitism has bequeathed us. However, to waste good environmental capital on a stagnant, ugly, man-made pool simply strikes me as foolish.