Monday, June 11, 2012

We Won't Know What We've Got 'Til It's Gone

I do hope that Joni Mitchell has become retro, so that a reference to “Big Yellow Taxi” is something more than an admission of having been alive in the late 1960s.

(Ahh, those wasted hours of existential angst, sitting around listening to “Blue”. . .)


Wendy Harris wrote a good column on the value of wildlife in general and, in particular, the value of the Chuckanut Wildlife Corridor.  It’s on the  Northwest Citizen blog page (here’s the link).

The value of nature?  Why does that need defending, here in God’s green Whatcom County?  We all appreciate the beauty and richness of our natural surroundings.  If your goal in life is to live where there’s a minimart on every corner, there’s always Snohomish County, right?

Well, the times, they are a changin’.  (That’s from a different 1960s folkie.)

A mere 7 years ago, on September 13, 2005, the Whatcom County Council updated the County's Critical Areas Ordinance.  Here’s a link to the ordinance.

At the time, the Council made this finding:

The Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan projects an increase of approximately 70,000 people, or 41% growth, in Whatcom County by the year 2022. As Whatcom County's population increases, associated development activities will continue to create greater challenges for the preservation and protection of Whatcom County's environmental resources. Without appropriate planning and management, land use activities can create potential impacts that may threaten both environmental resources and the public welfare.

One of the ways that the Council voted to protect “both environmental resources and the public welfare” was by identifying and protecting the Chuckanut Wildlife Corridor.  

At the time, the Council said:

The Chuckanut Corridor map, attached as Exhibit 3, is necessary to officially recognize the last remaining wildlife corridor area in the Puget Trough where natural land cover extends from marine waters to the National Forest Boundary east of Chuckanut Mountain which has been identified as such through an eco-regional assessment prepared by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Fast forward to 2012.  The Growth Management Hearings Board has found that the County didn’t live up to its obligation to protect the Wildlife Corridor in the Rural Element of its Comprehensive Plan. I wrote a little bit about that, in this blog post.

At a committee meeting on June 5, several County Council members expressed their distaste for the concept of a wildlife corridor in no uncertain terms.  The word “suspicious” was used several times. 

Did the County ever really adopt a wildlife corridor?  That’s “suspicious.” 

(Of course, we have provided the County Council with a copy of the ordinance.  But as Wendy always tells me, it’s not like anybody in the County actually reads anything that I send in!).

Why would people want to protect a wildlife corridor? That’s “suspicious.”  There must be some conspiracy to drive homo sapiens out of the County.

As it happens, the simplest explanation is the best.  As the County Council said in 2005, "Without appropriate planning and management, land use activities can threaten both environmental resources and the public welfare."

Let's not pave paradise. To. . . you know the rest.


  1. I think this might be an appropriate addition to our folk music retrospective:

    Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds.

  2. Jean,

    Check out Counting Crows version. Better than Joni's and, since it was done within the last decade or so, doesn't date anyone referencing it...

  3. A good point, Jack.

    I listened to the Counting Crows version and the Joni Mitchell version back to back, and while I understand your preference overall, there is something about Joni's voice on the high notes.

    And then I listened to "Carey" and "Free Man in Paris," and now I feel really, really old.

    Riley, I kind of like this version by the Shins, and the accompanying graphics. Although I don't think that American civilization has yet reached the point where we all look the same as Donald Trump.

  4. Excellent as the Counting Crows may be... they are not in the same league as Joni Mitchell.

  5. So our community polarization now extends to song versions?

    Obviously, I think that Joni's "native" recording is the best, and asserting otherwise is one of the craziest things that Jack has ever said yet.

  6. Ditto what Wendy said. Preferring Counting Crows to Joni is just crazy.

  7. I rather like the Counting Crows version...