Vaughn C. Hardacker here: Earlier this month my partner Jane and I decided to fire up the ATV and embark on our annual Leaf Peep Excursion into the north Maine woods. I would like to say that this years experience was entirely positive but I can’t. The foliage is (as you read this) most likely past peak now, but on the day we took our ride, we always travel the trails that lead to the Fish River Chain of lakes…more specifically Cross and Long Lakes. We usually end up having a meal at Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha (If you aren’t familiar with this part of the world, it is pronounced A-Gat ) while we looked at the panoramic view of Long Lake.
The foliage was great and the recent rains had cut the trail dust so much that it was not discernable. The sun was bright, the temperature in the high 60’s, low 70’s, and the wind was calm. The sun shining on the leaves emphasized the colors making it a truly enjoyable run–well, almost. It never ceases to amaze me the work nature has put into ensuring our woodland has a colorful wardrobe before settling down for a long winter’s sleep.
I have been told that there is only one other area on Earth that experiences the autumn colors of New England and it’s in China.
There is particular area that I have always enjoyed. A beautiful hardwood ridge that was possibly one of the most serene places I have ever encountered.
I was all set to slow down and spend some time here. You can imagine how I felt when this is what I found. I have seen what was left after a B-52 Arclight took place in Vietnam. An Arclight is when the huge bombers would drop a continuous line of 500 pound bombs on an area. For instance, the line would start at the base of a mountain, climb the mountain, descend on the other side, cross a valley and go up the next mountain, again, and again, and again.
You can believe me when I say that the devastation was nowhere near this bad. The other thing that lights a three-foot fire under my butt is that this annihilation of our wood lands is being done by a company that isn’t even headquartered in our country, let alone our state. Maine does, however, award them the rights to cutting any and all timber. Don’t let someone from Irving catch you cutting a live Christmas tree without their permission. I’ve heard several people say, “But, they plant new trees.”
Really? Here’s what I know. They do plant, but they plant pine and spruce–evergreens–not deciduous trees that provide us with our beautiful mix of colors. It is conceivable that by the time my great-grand children reach my age, fall foliage could be their generation’s dinosaur–something they hear about but have never seen. The only place left will be China–maybe. Our woodlands will be entirely comprised of evergreen trees. I’m not even going to get into the impact that will have on the creatures that make their home there.
I’ve been seeing the recent ad blitz about preposition 1 and the CMP power line project. It does not matter what we the people of Maine want…it matters how much money will be spent ensuring that our legislators vote in the company’s favor. When I was a teenager the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build a dam on the Allagash River (Called the Dickey-Lincoln Project). Upon completion of the dam the town of Allagash was projected to be under 300 feet of water (or so rumor had it). That project and the CMP project have one thing in common…every kilowatt of power created will go to Massachusetts. What does Maine get? SCREWED! Pardon my language, but I for one am sick and tired of the way that our government (local, state, and national) plays favorites. What might one ask is the determining factor between the favorites and those excluded? Votes. Massachusetts, when compared to Maine, is a wealthy highly populated state. Guess who the favorite is.
Why is the deforestation of our planet important? Let’s think about the global perspective. Trees absorb carbon dioxide during the daylight hours and expel oxygen during night hours. In doing research for a novel I am currently writing, I came across an eye-opening statistic. The largest forest on Earth is the Amazon in Brazil. I’ve seen statistics that say the Amazon alone creates five percent of the world’s oxygen that is one-twentieth of all the oxygen in the world. What has been happening for several decades? The Amazon has been under attack from loggers, miners, and farmers. The government of Brazil was giving free land in the Amazon Basin to anyone who would clear the land and plant crops. The problem is that when these peasant farmers tried to raise crops they quickly learned that all the soil was good for was being a forest. So what did they do? They abandoned the land they’d just cleared and moved on to destroy another section of forest. This is taking place in tropical rainforests around the world.
In closing. Of late we’ve all heard about climate change. There is a lot of debate about how to address it. In our country it’s in vogue to attack certain industries i. e. coal. I’m not saying that they don’t contribute, but is our government penalizing us when other industrialized countries are as much, if not more, responsible. Remember the pictures of the atmosphere in the Beijing Olympics. Anybody have a clue about what the Chinese government is doing to address the problem? It has also been said: The Amazon rainforest is where the Earth sweats. (Maybe there’s a clue here about how to truly solve global warming.)
I think maybe it’s time that we, the people took matters in hand. How? Vote out the life-time politicians who only serve to become rich and put term limits on every public office. I have never been a proponent of term limits, but the American electorate has proven time and time again that they are unwilling to do the homework required to make an intelligent decision in the ballot booth. Instead, they vote the way that news commentators tell them on TV. As a result, they keep voting in the same corrupt people (that goes for both political parties) for whom a political office is nothing more than a means to achieve wealth and hold power. Ask yourself: What has ant elected official done for me lately–or forever…