Baxter Black: A cautionary tale about a scenic beauty ruined by its own expansion
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little basin called Pleasant Valley. Pristine streams ran down from wooded hillsides. Wild game was abundant. Fish flourished. The peasants tilled their farms and irrigated them with mountain water. The livestock grazed the grassy meadows. It was a contented community, though lacking in material wealth.
Word of the scenic beauty of Pleasant Valley spread. People came to admire it. Some stayed. They brought with them treasured flora and fauna from their homes far away. Others followed to do their laundry and build their homes and teach the children of the newcomers.
Those that came formed a committee to preserve the beauty of Pleasant Valley. A planned community was envisioned. Architecture and public buildings were required to conform to a style pleasing to the committee.
Streams were diverted to do the laundry of the newcomers. To water the lawns around their houses and bathe their children. The town became a city. Muddy tracks from the farm trucks detracted from the image Pleasant Valley hoped to project. Animal smells wrinkled sensitive noses. The peasants were encouraged to move to a neighboring valley.
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Pleasant Valley grew. The committee imposed wood burning bans, zoned restricted agricultural areas, stressed cart-pooling on the golf course and recycled the Cultural Center newsletters. After agonizing consideration, they built a nuclear plant because it was the cleanest and least ecologically-depleting fuel. Hydro-electric power was unthinkable since it required damming a natural stream.
Eventually, the natural streams could not supply enough water to support the environmentally-safe service industries that had become the lifeblood of Pleasant Valley.
The committee again considered damming the stream but the Concerned Citizens of Pleasant Valley rallied and prevented the dam’s construction. They agreed to put bricks in their toilet to save water.
The committee, in desperation approached the peasants, “We want to buy your water and pump it to Pleasant Valley.” The peasants asked how they would irrigate their crops and water their stock if they gave up their streams?
“It doesn’t matter,” explained the committee, “You will be rich.”
So they took their water. Then they said to the peasants that were left, “We need a place to dump our nuclear waste.” ❖
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