Bit of Wild
I am here at Audubon because of something that happened–or, more accurately,
didn’t happen–in the 1970s. n I grew up in suburban Connecticut, behind
an unremarkable piece of land stubbled with small firs
Words like developers and property values circled the dinner tables, while we kids wondered what would happen to the rabbit dens and the snapping turtles in the marsh. "Those turtles will bite the mean developers, and they’ll go away!" reasoned Jenny, my 5-year-old sister.
Something better happened: The property was deeded to the Connecticut
Audubon Society. Over the next 25 years, each time I returned home I walked
back to the sanctuary. Every year there was something new: great blue herons,
wild turkeys, a pair of coyotes crossing the frozen pond at dawn. I remember
each sighting like a bookmark in my life. Meanwhile, the traffic on I-95
Too often when we think of land preservation, we think of vast wild places or areas of "critical habitat"– grizzly terrain, wolf country. No one makes noise about setting aside homes for snapping turtles or red-winged blackbirds. But what about a wild place for neighborhood kids? Or for the children in our souls?
These patches of brambles are vanishing faster than you can say "subdivision." In Atlanta, as Fen Montaigne writes in "There Goes the Neighborhood!", 50 acres of trees are felled every day to make room for suburbs that threaten to stretch as far as Tennessee.
Fortunately, the fight to maintain open space is gaining momentum. As Wes Kosova writes in "The Race to Save Open Space", "In 1998 there were 240 initiatives on ballots nationwide intended to preserve green space or curb development. . .. 72 percent of the measures passed, giving states and local governments the green light to spend more than $7 billion on land protection."
We offer some suggestions on how you can help to preserve the open spaces in your neighborhood. As I read them, I am thankful that this spring there is a new generation of kids tromping around the land I love most, chasing rabbits and watching the stream flow down to the Sound.
© 2000 NASI