Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking From the Wild

The strangest thing happened to me only hours ago. Firstly for the past few days I've been trying to think about the ethics of saving plants. I was thinking how little difference there is from a native plant salvage program to simple taking the plants. Though there's nothing to stop someone from stopping along side a road and digging up something they like, on a grand scale it's done differently. Lots of people are hired to go into land they usually rent or buy and harvest it for what it's worth. Then they sell it to contractors who may eventually build on it.

Native plant salvage programs work almost the same way but there are a few differences. Firstly it's done in response to development already planned. And second they're usually open to the public and not done with money as the end goal. Even so, I can't help but think why someone hasn't taken advantage of this program. Surely people who want to raid the forest for all it's worth and sell plants would be smart enough to run a native plant salvage program if only to look like they're the good guys.

This has been on my mind a lot lately because they're building a Wal*Mart right next to the strip mall I work at. All the buildings are getting upgrades and for some mysterious reason they're expanding the parking lot that I've never seen come anywhere close to being filled. It's important to note though that the entire Plaza is surrounded by mostly untouched thick forest land. There are hill sides that actually resemble prairies and are overgrown with goldenrods, bonesets, primroses, viburnums, queen anna's lace, and dozens of other plants I can't identify.

Construction on the expanded parking lot has already began. They cleared away a lot of the forest, mostly pines that I didn't like much anyhow. After a day of this they stopped after only cutting a few hundred yards. The forest behind the area now actually looks pretty. All the low growing shrubs and vines are cut away. The trees look so naked without them.

When I went to work I knew they'd done half the hill on one side of the street. As I left work I turned the radio on. I listen to the classical music station and the lady said, "and now we continue with songs from the movie Schindler's List." It took a moment to begin as great movie scores do. And as I drove up the hill the romantic sadness of John William's score set in. While I was at work the contractors had demolished the rest of the forest on that side. The road is long and as the music plaid I couldn't help but drive slowly and look out at the decimated forest land. An entire forest of trees that had grown 50 feet tall were completely logged and tilled over in a matter of hours.

On the other side of the road though there was still hope. Still a forest and that prairie land as I described it. It's emotional coincidences like this that cause you to take action.

After dinner I got my dad to drive back with me. I had a shovel and several pots with me. Looking back I wish I'd saved more. Unfortunately I'm not the head of a native plant salvage team and needed to be select about what I saved. The patch of Purple loosestrife could rot in hell, right along side the Bradford Pear volenteers. I snagged up a boneset and a few of some odd plant I don't even know the name to. I'll have pictures later on of course and I'll try to get it ID'd. I would have loved to take a Viburnum home but I couldn't find any saplings, and at any rate the plants had poison ivy growing by them. I may attempt a cutting though.

So that's my good deed for the day.