In the aftermath of Sept. 11 — as all Americans retouched their values,
examined their attitudes toward others, renewed their faith in freedom and
the human spirit — I wondered if we might see a new day in our approach
to America's environmental ills.
Terrorism is only one way to destroy America. Another way is to let America
sink under its own environmental excesses.
It's seldom in the headlines these days, but America is in a battle against air and
water pollution, soil erosion, chemical poisoning, wetland drainage, loss
of wilderness, human population growth and the like.
And, certainly, as the environmental battles are being waged, there are
differences of opinions on all sides of all issues. That, too, is what's
right about America.
That said, I'll offer this opinion:
One of the growing threats to environmental progress in America lies not
only with bulldozers and pesticides but within the environmental movement
itself in the form of extemists groups.
The sky is not falling
Shouting that the sky is falling has made environmentalists look like a flock of Chicken
For example, Minnesota's timber wolf population, including those in
Voyageurs National Park, does not need fixing by a court judge. Filing
court suits with no scientific or biological basis is making "little ol'
ladies in tennis shoes" out of all who call themselves environmentalists.
On the contrary, environmental extremism has proven time and again that it's
no friend of Mother Earth.
So, following the events that shook us all, I thought maybe we'd change. Guess not.
One of the first environmental lawsuits planned for 2002 in
Minnesota is over wolves and snowmobiles in Voyageurs National Park.
This is a tired issue. It's also a non-issue.
According to news reports, the Voyageurs Regional National
Park Association and 10 other environmental or animal rights groups
announced their intention to file suit opposing the park's plan to open 11
bays to snowmobiling.
Park managers closed the 11 bays to snowmobile traffic in 1992 in the
belief wolves were disturbed by the machines. Subsequently, wolf studies
in the park showed the animals weren't bothered, and last fall Park
Superintendent Barbara West announced plans to reopen the bays to
Minnesota's wolf population probably is, by the way, the highest its been
in 100 years.
No matter, we now have a pending court suit in the name of environmental
action that is, by any ecological measure, environmental nonsense.
A good question is "why?"
Minnesota's Sierra Club is listed as one of the groups intending to say the
sky is falling.
Which is surprising because the national Sierra Club has a long and distinguished
record on the nation's environmental issues. As national policy, the Sierra
Club supports scientific management of fish and wildlife.
On a regional basis, the Sierra Club is active in fighting to prevent the
Mississippi River from becoming an open ditch for barge traffic.
And that is a huge issue. A real issue.
The Mississippi valley from Red Wing to LaCrosse is in serious degradation.
Every day the Mississippi is burdened by a never-ending load of silt
arriving upstream from Minnesota farms. Every day its backwaters die a
The Sierra Club's concerns about the Mississippi need to be taken seriously.
But will they?
Or have the Sierra folks wasted their credibility on silly court cases.
Asking a judge to say the sky is falling?
In January, February and March 2002 the Backroads with Ron & Raven short feature airs Saturdays at 7:55 a.m. ET on ESPN2.