Reader: Once you build in BLR there's no turning back 


What we have here is a failure to appreciate the prairie of Banning Lewis Ranch. It looks like a waste of space, Mother Nature's vacancy sign beckoning development. Indeed, how could it have any value besides housing, shopping and business?

Vastness defines the prairie. It quite literally cannot exist at a smaller scale. Sprawl, and industrialized agriculture are killing it. Subdivisions and strip malls are poor replacements for prairie dog towns. The deer and the pronghorn can no longer play.

We assume the definition of progress is the erection of man-made structures, opportunities for acquisition of goods, services and personal wealth. The other side of that balance sheet is environmental health, ecological integrity and the well-being of people who value such things. Even if you do not count yourself among those who enjoy wild, living organisms, you are obligated to respect the rights of those who do. Our civil liberties include the pursuit of intangibles that cannot be quantified.

We can choose to have a city of muscle, bone and heart at its core, or a city fat with haphazard housing developments and shopping centers flung into the outskirts. It may seem logical to adhere to the annexation-and-build model. It may even feel necessary, but that is how an addict thinks.

Once you build there is no turning back. No recapturing the scenic views. No tearing up the roads, no calling back the birds, the bees, the pronghorn. Perhaps the state could take over the property as a wildlife management area. Maybe The Nature Conservancy would want to buy a parcel around Jimmy Camp Creek Park. Should cattle continue to graze? What should be the role of local farmers? How do we manage the water? We need honest, open dialogue that includes more than elected officials and real estate developers. It will go a long way toward transparency and true democracy, toward a healthy human ecosystem.

— Eric R. Eaton, Colorado Springs, Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

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