Commentary: Saving the Land Is Everyone's Job

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, August 3, 2007

Back in 1949, ecologist Aldo Leopold made a pitch for what he called a “land ethic.” By that, he meant voluntary conservation by private property owners on their own lands.

Such an ethic is essential in our rapidly growing region. Not everything we value can be put in public parks and preserves. Houses will be built.

But, that ethic seems under siege.

A case in point is the saga reported in The Sacramento Bee of a property owner near Loomis. This family bought property in a wooded, wetland, wildlife setting in the Dry Creek Watershed. They understood the importance of wetlands for reducing destructive floods and for maintaining healthy wildlife corridors between the valley and the mountains. They have gone out of their way to preserve their little property as an important cog and wheel in the larger ecosystem. They have been dismayed, however, to see neighbors build and use pesticides in wetland areas and complain about a family of beavers.

The upshot is this: As population growth and rapid development continue in the region, we need a private land ethic to preserve the values that bring people here in the first place.  If we all did this, it would be nicer for everybody.


Pia Lopez writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.