Don’t get me started on minimum flow on the White River. The evidence of the eyes is enough to tell you that tampering to that degree is discouraging to wildlife, to waders, and to those wary of “where do we go from here?” high water levels.

I know that everything we’ve done has tampered with Nature. The dams are tamperings. Trout stocking is tampering. Generators are tampering. But today, nearing the one-year anniversary of last season’s devastating floods, my soapbox is out and my voice is raised.

Right now, at this moment, every drop from the sky holds the possibility that the worst might happen again. River levels and Weather Channel rain totals are consulted with dread. In a land so thoroughly battered by ice storms, the memory of our too-recent drowning evokes a feeling far too close to dread. I wonder whether the people crushed by Katrina or the 2008 tornadoes are going through similar feelings. I’ll bet they are.

Yes, we’ve meddled. The fact that I have a 35 year-old house along the river at all was a disturbance in the naturalness I treasure–I know that. But where we go from here is the question we must ask. The developer who scalped the hill across the way to create a view that no tree ever threatened, the made-made rush of water that digs up new shoals and carves banks into the body of the river, the Army Corps of Engineers “authority” who admitted that he really had no learning or precedent to guide what he was doing; a natural future left to the mercies of  the questionable judgment and undeniable greed of man: These are evidences of the increasingly extreme steps we take to correct the steps we took before them.

Who decides? Who gives permission to throw a hillside open to the powerful forces of erosion to help a greedy landgrabber can make an obscene profit? Who decides that it’s okay to deliberately re-flood an already-drowned area to spare folks downstream who are already underwater? Who decides that the creatures can find someplace else to live? And who protects those of us who value the things that are ours without price?

The pristine cliffs and meandering waters that call out their enticements from the tourism websites–these are quickly becoming a kind of  false advertising. Increasingly, the cliffs are studded with grandiose houses and stripped of trees, the waterways are in constant rush, and the wildlife habitats are exchanged for view-cut lots and the sound of chainsaws louder than the songs of birds. Already, much of the night is gone, taken away by newcomers determined to bring as much of the city’s brightness to their little piece of heaven in the country.  Like the sawyer said when asked why it was necessary to clear-cut the entire hill: “I just guess you’ll have to move, then.”

The answer is no. I refuse. And on the nearing date for one of the most destructive and terrifying seasons in recent White River memory, I know that it’s time to take a stand for what is most important. Rant over.

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