Thinning the Forest at the Emily Trails – aka Money Grab!

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One of my favourite hiking destinations over the past couple years has been the Emily Trails just north east of Omemee in Ontario, Canada. I loved walking around looking up at the majestic ~200 year old trees. I make several treks through this area each year. It gives me an emotional high with each visit.

However, last year (summer of 2013) my emotions were dashed at the sight of destruction that had taken place. The City of Kawartha Lakes had decided that “thinning” of all the Red Pine was required and posted the following news item in the fall of 2012:

October 2, 2012 – The City of Kawartha Lakes will be thinning/harvesting red pine plantations in the Emily Tract in October, the Pontypool Tract in October and November, and the Somerville Tract from October until January.

These plantations are owned by the City of Kawartha Lakes and require periodic thinning for maintaining forest health. The thinning will also assist in the conversion of pine plantations to more natural mixed forests.

Some trail use could be temporarily interrupted. For safety reasons, please avoid areas where thinning/harvesting operations are active.

Ok, thinning is one thing, but destroying half the place in the process is quite another. They chopped down a Grand Musclewood tree that was reportedly about 300 years old (see the stump in the picture above). Why? Because it was in the way of the harvesting equipment getting to the Red Pine beyond – they didn’t even WANT that tree. Below is a sign that was on an adjacent tree explaining how this was the “Oldest stand” of Musclewood in the area. Not any more!

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If you look through my Flickr Photo Set of this destruction, you’ll see paths cut throughout the area by harvesting equipment and other trees just tossed aside. If this wasn’t enough to bring tears to my eyes, the following was…

Each time I go to these trails, I always meet up with an elderly gentleman who has spent most of his life hiking through these trails. He’s always there with his little Jack Russell dog just sitting on a log enjoying the nature around him. He always has stories to tell about the area and he informed me of just how old some of these majestic trees are. His great grandparents likely never saw these trees as seedlings.

On my last trip there (I haven’t been back since seeing all this), he told me of the process these harvesters went through to get to their precious Pine – cutting and splitting their way through land that had never before seen machinery. They took the valuable Red Pine, and discarded anything that held no value. His voice broke and crackled as he fought back the tears. This was his playground – now violated and raped!

Who the Hell are we (humans) to dictate to Mother Nature that her forests need thinning? She’s been looking after the forests for a Hell of a lot longer than we have. Why is our species so frikkin’ arrogant to think that we know what’s best? They claim this was to “assist in the conversion of pine plantations to more natural mixed forests.” I have trekked from one end of this area to the other and let me tell you, there is NO PROBLEM with the mix of trees – there is a HUGE variety!

This was no mere “thinning operation” but rather, a quick money grab as Red Pine fetches a decent price on the market. And, as you can see from the press release above, two other “conservation areas” (whatever!!) saw the same fate.

(There is also a rumour that half the area has been sold for sub-division development, but I cannot find any information to validate that.)

I will likely return there this summer, but the scars left will dwarf the wonderment I once felt. :(

I’m A Minimalist

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As I dig into my 51st year, one thing has become very clear: I’ve become a minimalist. I really can’t pinpoint when or how this happened, but suffice it to say I have a very ordered and uncluttered life.

I live in a decent sized bachelor apartment containing items that likely wouldn’t fetch $500 if I were to sell it all tomorrow. My walls are void of pictures and there is ample walking room due to my lack of typical furniture such as sofas, recliners, and the like.

I own a bicycle, bed, a cheap $70 camera, a couple ancient desks containing computers assembled from scrounged or gifted parts, and the bare essentials for kitchen ware.

I have no need for insurance as everything I own wouldn’t add up to the premiums I would pay over the years. I have no need for money over and above what I need for basic survival. Since I make and spend less, I pay the least amount in taxes of just about anyone I know.

I have no desire for travel outside my own country, no need for vehicles (beyond my bicycle), no need for stylish clothing, no need to seek relationships, and no need for approval from anyone.

I desire less and am happier for it. This is a close to freedom as I can get.

And you know what? That’s good enough for me!

Here’s An Exercise…

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Just for fun, give this a try: Go to your fridge or cupboard and grab a few pre-packaged items and bring them to your computer desk. Next, go to Google and start looking up any ingredient you do not immediately recognize. First investigate the ingredient, then search further for how those ingredients affect the human body. I promise you it will be a major eye-opener.

I must warn you, however. When I did this a couple years ago, I threw away half of the things in my cupboard – never to be brought back again.

Let me know in the comments how you fare… ;)

No Rest For Mother Earth

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I finished up early today and decided it was a beautiful, sunny day for a nice winter walk on one of my favourite walking trails – the south leg of the Victoria Rail Trail heading toward Bethany, ON.

As I trekked along taking in lung full after lung full of fresh air, I suddenly found myself gagging on fuel exhaust. WTF? I’m on a nature trail! Are there snow mobiles around?? Nope. A little further along and beyond the trees I found where the foul air was coming from.

Construction (or destruction depending on your point of view) was in full swing – even in the dead of winter – as they ripped and dug at the Earth to bury pipe for whatever project was under-way. Yup, more subdivisions on their way!

Poor Mother Earth. She doesn’t even get a break from the air pollution in the winter months any more. We now destroy and pollute 365 days a year because everything needs to be rushed and done yesterday. Sad…

A Simple Thank You!

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I was out for my early morning walk this morning after a heavy overnight snowfall. The side walks for the most part were quite deep and quite a round of exercise to walk through.

I came across a gentleman about my age manually shovelling snow from the sidewalk in front of his house. It was obvious he’d been at it for a while as he was puffing pretty good as he cleaned the side walk down to the concrete.

I turned off my music and made a point of saying, “This sidewalk is awesome to walk on! Thank you so much!”  He wiped his brow, smiled and simply replied, “Glad someone appreciates it.”

Sometimes we get so busy with life we forget to appreciate the simple efforts other people make. It only takes a moment to make someone feel appreciated. I think we both felt better for the encounter. :)