Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fire season

Since wildfire season is upon us and a large contingency from the Mark Twain National Forest has been dispatched to California, I thought I'd share a fascinating article about America's justice system (found in England's Guardian, no less). A precedent-setting ruling occurred recently that required railroad magnate Union Pacific to compensate the Forest Service for damages lost during a wildfire started on their right-of-way. UP doesn't just have to cover timber losses, but loss to the scenery and damages to recreational opportunities and viewsheds.

Conversation turned tonight (in the hallway of my little Craftsman) to the Ozarks. Could the developers who literally ruined the scenery in the Lake Ozark region by building vast expanses of slipshod condominiums in quality dry chert woodlands be charged for "ruining the scenery?" Or, could a regulatory state agency (ahem) institute a viewshed credit like the Oregon Coast has? Folks who build in pristine wooded areas could receive a tax credit if they had the least possible impact on the viewshed? As we look out from Lodge Glade these days, we no longer see uninterrupted stretches of woodland/savanna complexes, but big fancy houses with bay windows and Bradford pear trees in the front yard punctuating the landscape.

So tonight I'm playing the role of viewshed advocate, knowing that I have four loyal readers (thank you!) who are great writers themselves who can help affect change in this country. It shouldn't take a massive wildfire to require protection of scenery in this country. Now, England's loyal Lib-Dem readers know all about the ruling, but I bet this groundbreaking settlement hasn't seen the light of a St. Louis morning in the Post-Dispatch.


Anonymous said...

I am one to save viewsheds; ok lets go look at woodlands in Camden County, scoping for possible purchases. Acquisition is the absolute best means of ensuring houses and other structures do not infest otherwise pristine natural landscapes.

Texas Travelers said...

Interesting post.

Just don't get me started. I'll have to go have some breakfast now and calm down. I just had my 70th birthday recently, and the shoddy and uncaring attitude of many developers makes me see red. If more people realized that no planning coupled with blind destruction can destroy what it took nature thousands of years to produce.

I have been in a "no comment" phase lately, but I need to rant a little here. Thanks for caring.

Troy and Martha