I am very fortunate to live on Old Mission Peninsula, an eighteen mile extension into the Grand Traverse Bay. It is a glorious environment of natural beauty. Oh yes, there is evidence of human habitation, paved roads, houses, a school and library, farms, a lighthouse, etc. There are also gravel roads, orchards, vineyards and many wild spaces. Peninsula Drive is my main route to and from my home. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate its beauty. The tree-lined road showing off the West Bay on the left or right depending on your direction, wildflowers, hawks and eagles in the trees, squirrels, deer….a nature lovers dream. Last week about five miles into my drive home I gasp….there in front of me was a total disaster area.
Trees had been torn from the soil by their roots or sawed at their base lying on one another as if fallen soldiers. The soil shoved and pushed this way and that, debris filled the road, and the air reeked of the smell of fresh-cut wood. The road was littered with machines of gigantic proportion looming over my Jeep pinching the lanes until they were narrowed to one. I could hear the buzz of shredders which I later learned were taking board sized logs and reducing them into chips. As I waited for the hard hat muscle to allow me to pass I felt helpless, hopeless and profoundly amazed by the destruction. Once home I just sat at my kitchen table listening to the icy noise of the shredders.
Once I found my voice the air was blue. How could this be? What is happening? Don’t people understand what trees do for us? Why was this not discussed? Maybe it was or maybe my reaction was expected and it was easier to just do it. What is that vulgar saying, “Do it now, apologize later”.
What do trees do for the Earth and its residents? They increase property values and encourage business as a landscape of trees is preferred to empty space. Dollars speak. Hospital patients viewing trees out their windows heal faster with fewer complications. ADHD children are calmer in nature. Trees provide shade discouraging evaporation thus cutting down on the need to water. Three mature trees properly placed in your yard will lower the temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit cutting your cooling bill by fifty percent. Trees mark the seasons, provide food, and jobs from picking fruit to preparing food. Preventing water run off that in turn causes pollution and soil erosion is of particular importance in this area. Fertilizer run-off from orchards and vineyards cause mucky shorelines which I personally find very unpleasant. Trees provide oxygen and use carbon dioxide which helps prevent climate change. In one year one acre of mature trees will use the carbon dioxide expelled by your car after driving 26,000 miles and provide oxygen for eighteen people. They also clean the air of other toxic gases and store particles of pollution in their leaves. Trees provide homes for wildlife….part of our food web.
The ‘Tree of Life’ is every tree.
“Oh come on”, they may say, “what harm will cutting five miles of tree-lined road do….end the world?”
My answer is no but here is a shocker…..the world is bigger than Old Mission Peninsula, much bigger. This is happening everywhere from clearing road sides to deforestation. As a matter of fact deforestation is referred to as ‘The Modern Day Plague’. Seven generations of my family have been and are loggers having followed the White Pine from New York to Washington State. For this family the value of trees is well known. Managing trees and forests is extremely important. Nature manages with wildfires. There is also a place for us to make decisions…I am asking people to think not only of today but long-term. It takes time and energy to think and plan. There are reasonable people willing to be part of both sides of this environmental discussion of living with nature, in this case trees. Communication could solve so many of the world’s concerns but there is always that chance you may learn something or not get your way.
I imagine, because no has informed me, that soon we will have a newly tarred road with a larger shoulder for bicycles. Not sorry about that….want room for bicycles…it is a lovely ride but a little less lovely these days. Where is the balance?