Monday, March 13, 2006
"Climb every mountain!"
Every spring the poppies bloom in the foothills less than a mile from our home. So, before I even look at the news from overnight, before I allow that to get me all upset and in a rant, I thought I'd share a picture of the beauty that unfolds here this time of year. It lasts about a month and then is gone until the following spring.
I don't know why it is, exactly, but it seems many towns and cities of the desert Southwest abut mountains. Maybe that's to protect their backsides from 19th century marauders and raiding parties. I'm not sure. (Sadly, however, they're no safeguard against 21st Century plunderers and it is now the mountains that now need our protection.) But if one looks at El Paso, Albuquerque, Tucson, Phoenix and gorgeous Las Cruces and Taos, NM, there they are--the mountains--cradling their communities.
In the case of our mountains with these beautiful poppy fields, we are only able to enjoy them because they were once part of an army firing range back in the 40's. Beneath those poppies exists artillery shells which have not yet been cleared away. But that's about to change and it sickens me. (Oh, oh....my beautiful mood fades?)
With rampant human population growth everywhere, developers are drooling at the land protected all these years by possible UXO (unexploded ordnance). Already they've climbed the other side of the mountains. The result? Massive concrete mansions clinging to the craggy ridges in an obscene gesture to all below who could never, ever afford the luxury to snub the rest of society and look down there noses at us.
Never mind that if one walks up in these foothills and glances eastward, there are millions of acres of open (flat) undeveloped desert land available for development. You see, progress must "climb every mountain"!
Public hearings begin next month to determine what the public wants to do with this land. Whether they want to preserve its beauty for all citizens of El Paso to enjoy, or bulldoze it and place a military research and development center there for a few profiteers to enjoy.
In another Universe, the outcome would already be decided. Majority opinion would be the rule. But that is not the case. This is the land of opportunity. Progress must be served.
As with the nuclear repository near Carlsbad, NM being debated in the 80's, public hearings taught us they are most often just a charade to let we, the little people, feel empowered. To feel we have a say in what happens to the land, to our mountains, while their real fate has already been determined by the powered interests.
But in a recent Freedom of Information request from the local Mountain Wilderness Coalition it was discovered the army and the local Chamber of Commerce have already been making plans far beyond anyone's wildest of dreams for this beautiful wilderness! And while there was a huge volume of almost 1,000 pages, the Army turned over just ten pages of plans for the use of this land. And on those ten pages, the substantive information had all been blackened out. The concealed meat of their schemes is "Exempt from disclosure" to us.
Such is the farce of our "freedom of information". What we're really interested in seeing regarding the plans for our "public lands" is not for our eyes. Ergo, the fate of these mountains is already decided. And that's a real SHAM(e)!