Careless Destruction

Although outspoken, I’ve never really been an environmental activist in the traditional sense of protesting and confronting those doing damage to the earth and nature. I protest silently by boycotting, making a small difference by changing my personal choices to support or reject products and companies matching my beliefs. I’m a vegetarian, I reject killing animals for my consumption. I’ve been known to boycott companies that test on animals. It’s a personal choice and I don’t judge others who consume meat or randomly buy cheaper products at the expense of another creature. I’m married to a carnivore, and I don’t preach to him about eating meat. I’m cool with it and completely understand given my Anthropological background knowing that humans have eaten meat for many millennia. That being said, I despise needless destruction of habitat, so this past weekend I took action in my neighborhood.

On Saturday at 7:30 a.m. as I was showering after my morning run, I heard chain saws across the canal and my husband downstairs calling the police. The shrill of blades quickly cutting wood amplified as I ran down to the dock to check out the situation. Our protected mangroves and nature preserve across from our house was quickly disappearing. Hubby went to meet the officers near the construction site to explain the controversy.  We were fine with the development across the canal, so were others in the community as long as the mangroves and trees remained untouched.

Seconds behind him, I jumped into my car, passed the police and hubby chatting near the road, and parked in a lot where I knew had quick access to the protected trees. I ran barefoot through the field as if saving a drowning child. I knew time was not on my side given the rate of the tree destruction. A rapid thrust through a dense bush brought me to the center of the action.

“Stop.” I screamed through the noise. “Stop Now.”

A look of shock and widened eyes crossed the landscapers’ faces and total silence of machinery ensued for a brief second.

“These trees are protected, and an Osprey lives here.” As if any of them knew what that was or even spoke english, I clarified.  “A Seahawk.”osprey

They looked at each other as if an alien had just landed. Then one of the workers defiantly started his chainsaw. “Stop now,” I shouted again. “Or you’re going to be in big trouble.” I wasn’t prepared to chain myself to a tree, but the thought momentarily crossed my mind.

The single high-pitched buzz stopped as two men not dressed for manual labor cautiously approached me. “Ma’am, I’m the developer.” He took a few steps closer. “I have permits to clear these trees and brush.”

He threw me off guard. I wasn’t sure how he got the permits, or the trustworthiness of the issuing agency. I considered strapping myself to a tree again but decided to take a reasonable approach, especially since I had to leave for the airport and fly our plane to Northern Georgia, racing against weather and cumulus cloud buildup.

osprey 1I expressed my concern about the resident Osprey I watched swoop up fish daily, the manatees feeding on the mangroves in the winter and spring, the numerous water birds wading in the water, and even the omnipresent ducks and iguanas, all of which congregated on this little piece of real estate. He assured me that the mangroves and trees would not be cut and he was just clearing bush. I wanted to believe him, hoping he had an innate compassionate side. I walked away, a bit uneasy, back through the impenetrable bushes separating the construction site from the established apartment complex where I parked.  My feet were as muddy as my mind.  Should I stay to make sure the developer followed his word?  Should I talk to the police to express my concern?  What the hell could they do, I concluded.  He has a permit.  I could still chain myself to that tree…

I decided to trust his promise to preserve the trees, and we flew to the north Georgia mountains. While in Georgia I learned that he lied and cut down most of the trees and mangroves, preserving only a wispy few. It hit my gut and I intuitively knew the Osprey was gone.



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