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Sunday, September 25, 2011







Sunday, 8:00 AM.  48 degrees, wind NNE, calm.  The sky has been overcast but it is rapidly clearing, the sunlight dappling the wet grass as it filters its way through the pine branches.  The barometer still predicts rain, but I am hoping for some sunshine.
    Along with color, fall brings its characteristic fruits.  We all think apples and pears, certainly. Here are some other fall fruits, not necessarily edible, which you may not have thought about: The False Solomon’s Seal, Smilacina racemosa, berries are dead ripe, the bears at least eat them, and I assume other animals and birds as well; highbush cranberries, Viburnum Americanum, are ripe, too tart to eat but good for jams and jellies and winter bird survival; red-twig dogwood, Cornus stolonifera, berries, good wild life food; Catalpa beans, Catalpa bignonioides, the long pods hanging from the trees, I assume animals eat them; rose hips; and of course the mountain ash berries which the birds love.  There are also  wild plums ripening, great fruit if the bears don’t get them first, and many, many different crabapples.
    The Bad River Ojibwe tribal leaders met recently with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to voice their opposition to taconite iron mining in the Bad River watershed.  They fear possible pollution which could affect the tribe’s Lake Superior wild rice beds and other aspects of their traditional way of life.
    As those of you who are regular readers know, I have a great deal of respect for the Indian concept of preservation of resources for future generations, and it is a concept we all should adhere to. Unfortunately, it can play right into the hands of the extreme environmentalists who actually believe it is morally wrong to mine materials from Mother Earth under any circumstances (don’t laugh, we read the nutty bumper stickers and take them seriously). 
    If such attitudes were to prevail, we would all soon be back in the stone age.  We cannot deny ten thousand years of human history and progress.  Modern life, and all human history,  is fraught with challenges, and mistakes have obviously been made by humans in the development of civilization.  But the alternative to change and progress is stagnation and reversion to a state of nature where only the strongest few survive, and even they are doomed to short, brutish lives of pain, disease and drudgery.
    The tribes here have considerable political and cultural  influence, and their treaty rights are well recognized by the state and federal courts.  However, as many or more Indians live off the reservations as on, and ultimately all have as great an interest in the economic future of the region as any other group, and I for one hope they don’t choose the path of anti-development obstructionism that so many others have gone down.  Ultimately the resources of the earth will be developed and used, if not now then in the future, and if not by us then by some more practical and technologically advanced conquerer; like it or not, that is the way of the world.  If we can’t do mining and other resource development responsibly, nobody can, or will.
    None of us know enough at this point to say whether the proposed mine should go forward, as the engineering, scientific and cultural information to make a decision is incomplete.  But it is irresponsible to simply shut our minds to the concept and oppose it on one unproven principle or another.

1 comment:

  1. They are going to slam it threw if it's good or bad. They are changing the approval process in order to do so. That in itself is offensive.
    But if you want to see a scar on the earth just go to Google Earth and look south of Marquette Mi. The risk of the ground water and even Lake Superior can't be reversed if something happened. I also wonder why they are clearing HWY 13 shoulders near the proposed mine area as if they are going to widen the road? Perhaps for slower large trucks? I think the mine is a done deal already. No debate!