This is why we cannot have nice things, like functional ecosystems / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

7 hrs  February 7, 2016  Wendy Harris

I respect this author and he is usually right about things, but this time, he could not be more off the mark. And it reflects not just an unhealthy environment, it reflects an unhealthy culture and way of viewing the biosphere. And it explains why most of our restoration efforts simply fail.

First, people do not make things better. Nature makes things better. The more I learn, the more I understand that the way to restore is to get out of the way and let nature do its job, without human interference. Rarely is the source of the problem also the source of the solution.

We MUST stop trying to solve problems through a mechanistic engineered approach. Experience shows us it does not work. Focus on restoring ecosystem functions.

We need to understand that ecosystems function first and foremost as SYSTEMS. They must be approached holistically and we must understand that components of a system are interdependent and synergistic. If you want to improve water quality, you need to improve all the different components of that ecosystem in which that water body is located. Vegetation and biodiversity play key roles in this process. Impervious surfaces are killers, as is anything that humans built that interfere with ecosystem function.. which is generally everything.

Perhaps the most disturbing part and the part that really drew my attention was the nod of approval to outdoor recreation. This has one of the most harmful impacts on biodiversity of animals and plants and it has been proven over and over and over by studies. It is not new science. So why do we keep ignoring it?.

Of particular note, this Thursday, the Planning Commission is discussing Art.2 of the Critical Area Ordinance, which includes a provision to exempt low impact activites, such as outdoor recreation and hunting, from critical area review. This is the last thing we want to do.

But it gets even better. If an activity is exempt as low impact, and the full range of activities is not spelled out so it remains a matter of staff discretion, then you are allowed to engage in alteration of critical areas and buffers. Do you really want the Parks Department building mountain bike trails where ever it wants?

If you want to make a meaningful difference, please forget engineered solutions and ask the Planning Commission to delete the exemption for low impact activities, as well as the exemption for altering critical areas and buffers to accommodate these activities.

Read Wendy’s post in the Whatcom Hawk Facebook group here.

Read Tip’s article on Northwest Citizen here.

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