Thursday, September 08, 2005

46: “The Atchafalaya Syndrome”

We return once again to the words of a former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who served for over 35 years. Mister Justice William O. Douglas wrote:

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
Adams County is in the process of being oppressed. Oppressed by its own State and Local governments, and oppressed by land developers. One of the local defenders of the Adams County way of life recently had the letter reproduced below in the Gettysburg Times. It was cut up a bit, so here is the original and full version of this letter:


I am currently reading a book that has a very similar theme, as relates to the problems that we face today, here in Adams County, concerning not only the proposed gambling casino, but our steady loss of open spaces, trees, farmlands etc. The book tells the sad story of the cutting down of all of the giant bald cypress trees in the Atchafalaya Basin in southwest Louisiana, strictly for profit. Upon reading the above, many people will say "who cares about trees in Louisiana"? This is exactly what the citizens of that state said, over 75 years ago. Now, the big trees are gone forever, never to be seen and appreciated by future generations. This catastrophe is one of the reasons why we now preserve and protect various species of all living things. I will quote from one paragraph in this book - it is a lesson to be learned:

"When my grandfather was a boy, the destruction of the big trees had just begun in the Atchafalaya Basin. When he died in 1956, the process was virtually complete. All of the big trees had been removed. The great cypress forest had been transformed into swampland. Why didn’t he try to stop it? He was wise and good. Did he become wise too late in life? What is it, that leads us all, to allow the destruction of things rare and beautiful, rather than stand up and defend them? He was an influential and respected man. Did he lack the vision to foresee what it would mean to lose the big trees? If he had petitioned the State of Louisiana to facilitate the protection of the Atchafalaya Basin, he might have succeeded in allowing us all to inherit a thing of such beauty and majesty, as is almost unimaginable here today. A piece of the past, thriving into the future, an inheritance of incalculable, indescribable value to our souls and spirit. But, he didn`t do it.

Do I myself lack the awareness that would compel me to do something beneficial with respect to the Earth, that I`m not doing now? Something that might be of vital importance to those who will live here many years from today Maybe, by the time my grandfather was a man of sufficient influence to attempt any such thing, it was already too late. By the end of the 1920`s, the destruction was all but complete. Nobody cared enough, or had the wisdom, or the vision, or the power to stop it. A one million acre cathedral had been converted into a one million acre graveyard. The land of dead giants, and hardly anyone noticed."

I am asking the citizens of Gettysburg and Adams County to join me in an effort not to allow this to happen here in our small, beautiful piece of Pennsylvania. Reject more malls, more shopping centers, more theater complexes, more commerce parks, more development, and especially a gambling casino near Gettysburg! Vote those responsible for this misuse of our land, out of office. We must care enough, we must have the wisdom, we must have the vision, and we do have the power to stop it. The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, is a sad, silent witness to the inevitable result of doing nothing.

Sincerely,
Dan G. Siderio
Gettysburg,
PA
Well said, friend Dan, well said, and especially appropriate in light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina recently. Had many of those trees still been there when Katrina came ashore, much of the damage to the areas and parishes outside of New Orleans could have been mitigated. Such forests absorb much of the force of the storms, and generally tend to take the energy out of storm surges, and lessen their severity.

Development is totally out of control in Adams County. Straban Township wishes to pave over every single blade of grass in the township, and if trees get in the way, they’ll pave them over, too. This is an extension of the Adams County Commissioners and their cash-cow-for-developers, the Adams County Economic Development Corporation.

Thousands of houses are being built in Adams County. There is no need for the housing that is coming here. There may be a small need for affordable housing, but that is NOT what is being built here. Enormous hotels and business centers are being constructed here. There are not, and will not be occupants for the offices that are being built. Drive along through and outside of any small city in the state, such as Allentown, and Bethlehem, for example, and see all the magnificent new office complexes sitting on overgrown lots, with “Space Available” signs on them. That is what the developers are trying to bring here, in particular, Bob Monahan.

It is not too late. There is no such thing as a “done deal” that cannot be rolled back. It will call for community activism to maintain the rural flavor of Adams County. It will call for voter awareness, to remember at election days, that the legislators who voted themselves their colossal pay raise, are the same legislators who voted in the gambling bill, and its ridiculous companion, Act 72. They are the same legislators who approved the most unethical piece of legislation ever written, Act 71 of 2004, the gaming bill.

They were wholly cooperative bi-partisan efforts. Greed has struck in Harrisburg, and in Gettysburg. It takes the form of “gold fever”, every bit as much as that struck the 49ers a century-and-a-half ago. Indeed, the fertile and productive crop lands of Adams County are the new “gold fields” of the 21st century.

Straban Township, indeed, Adams County, has thrown environmental impact out the window. No one in Adams County is looking at the big picture. When Straban Township grabbed 11,000 acres of farmland and rezoned it for development, no one looked at what paving over 11,000 acres would do to the local environment.

As friend Dan states above:

Reject more malls, more shopping centers, more theater complexes, more commerce parks, more development, and especially a gambling casino near Gettysburg! Vote those responsible for this misuse of our land, out of office. We must care enough, we must have the wisdom, we must have the vision, and we do have the power to stop it. The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, is a sad, silent witness to the inevitable result of doing nothing.
Indeed we do have the power to stop it! End the oppression by stopping the development!


"Legislation without representation is tyranny!"

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