|See, the Smoky Mountains came back just fine...errr....|
after the Federal Government bought/stole the whole mountain
range out from under timber operators,
and started reforesting it wall-to-wall. Minor detail.
Those wide-eyed folks left college strongly believing that if just "left alone," the natural world could - and would - fix itself. Of course, as those biologists actually got into the workplace, spent time afield, and realized that human actions have (in places all over the world) made it impossible for natural places to "be what they were" 10,000 years ago (without obliterating mankind and waiting 20,000 years for earth to repair itself), they realized what the conservationists knew 100 years ago. Our species is special. Powerful. And if we value natural places "as they once were," then those gullies have to get fixed. The invasive plants removed. The soil amended (since the 10,000 year old soil washed away 100 years ago). People (and their septic systems) moved out of the marsh. The haz-mat dump cleaned up. Those biologists came to understand what farmers, philosophers, and scientists have known for four thousand years - natural places are built from the bottom up. Soil structure and chemistry > soil microbes > microinvertebrates > macroinvertebrates > vertebrates. Simple damn ecology. Across most terrestrial and shallow water habitats that have been cut, filled, burned, drained, or paved for human use, we can't (if we value soil, water, and wildlife as being any part of our society's future) wait for some random plants to grow on top of the toxic, eroding mess and just say, "There. Better!" Those young biologists figured it out, or left the field entirely to go be on Whale Wars or something.
So it was almost like a flashback to that bizarre era when an anti-conservationist recently said that the Smoky Mountains were a great example of how nature doesn't need saving or restoring - of how it repairs itself, saves itself, and indeed, can take care of itself without the help of self-serving do-gooder biologists and conservationist nerds. That argument was the crux of a longer series of rants about how:
1) the government should not interfere with land use that seeks to generate financial wealth or jobs, both undefined at any level;
2) natural resource conservation is generally a hoax of leftist whackos involved in the marxist takeover of our country through earth worship;
3) warning: the government will take your land falsely in the name of "conservation" which of course, is a marxist plot against freedom. The government doesn't care about true conservation - just taking away your rights.
I know, those are all bizarre, but please keep reading. This is a special story about a triumph of American conservation, achieved through a host of Constitutional violations. Done with purpose.
I actually had to read the Smoky Mountains example twice. Yes, the Smoky Mountains were nearly completed deforested twice. And yes, it's pretty and full of trees now, as the region holds almost 200,000 acres of old growth forest (not the same as virgin forest), the densest black bear population in the east, and the most diverse population of non-tropical salamanders. And despite some career academicians' efforts to prove otherwise, it certainly seems to most ecologists, anglers, hunters, and hikers that the Smoky Mountains were saved in time. The resource is functional. Intact. Closely resembling how God allowed it to be in the first place. Sure, some stream systems were damaged beyond recognition. The great American chestnut forest was lost - and replaced with Oak-Hickory and other forest types. Some wildlife species were lost. But the Smokies pretty much survived our 18th and 19th century onslaughts for raw materials.
|Only via the internet can|
a 2012 Tea Party member make
comments identical to those
of a 1996 eco-nazi!
|Habitat project by Smoky Mtn|
Ruffed Grouse Society.
Didn't happen by itself.
|Yup. Just "fixed itself." Duh!|
Just to the north of GSMNP is Pisgah National Forest (Protected: 1915. Restoration began: 1885), where I've spent a good chunk of time fishing over the years. Pisgah - the amalgamation of several smaller National Forests, is a bit of an enigma. Also a shining monument to anti-government control, the core of the forest acreage came in 1915, when the Vanderbilts felt compelled to sell 500,000 acres to the federal government at a price "significantly below its value." This practice, if not entirely voluntary, is now illegal in environmental conservation (or any type of condemnation), as it is recognized to be a "government taking." (however, at the time, was completely legal, given Mahon v. Pennsylvania Coal). Things are better now. If the environment is worth protecting, then people should arguably be paid to give it away.
|Productive timber land (forest) in the United States.|
Don't care about habitat?
Hope you don't use paper, either.
So, then, onto the Nantahala National Forest , which rings the southern end of the Smoky Mountains. The US Forest Service purchased about 15% of the property directly from the US Treasury Department in 1920. Yup. You read that right. The federal government made judgments against landowners, evicted them, and took the property via the Treasury Department. That is so much more freedom-loving than than modern day conservation!
And yet, despite all of these incursions against legitimate property ownership and property rights, conveyed across multiple states and across the span of decades, the Great Smoky Mountains stand as a testament to difficult decisions being made about the conservation of great American places and resources. The Forest Service wasn't foolish at the time - many of the enabling legal documents refer to timber stocks for future, unknown wars, hydropower needs and opportunities, and the simple, authentic preservation and restoration of an important American resource.
But don't tell that to the guy who touts the Smoky Mountains as an example of why we shouldn't care, because someone "left it alone" and "it fixed itself."
|Visitors to Pisgah National Forest's "See What's to Come" exhibit (1967) learn about the importance of soil|
conservation, wildlife management, and forest restoration.
Omitted was the part about, "Aww shucks just leave it, it'll be fine, I'm sure."
And in case you missed it the first time:
|I photoshopped out the sign next to it that said, "This area "Left Alone" by the US Forest Service."|