Above is an image of me, taken earlier today by a fellow hiker at the start of an exhilarating hike up Paintbrush Canyon in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. The natural beauty I saw today was incredible, the raw wilderness spiritually uplifting, the mountain air and strenuous climb cleansing. Along the way, I saw countless beautiful wild creatures, birds, chipmunks, and moose. I am glad to say that I did not see a bear, as they are a common and concerning sight in these parts. But even they are part of the beauty of places like this, and have their place in the perfectly balanced natural order.
In an age of unprecedented urban sprawl, in many parts encroaching on natural beauty like I experienced today and ruining the habitats of creatures that call these places like this home, we must take pause to consider the consequences of our nation becoming one giant city. Not only should we mourn the innocent victims of our encroachment into their lands, but we should also mourn that we lose a precious resource that we can lose ourselves in, invigorate our spirit, and escape from the stresses of our daily existence.
In the town I live in Florida, there remains undeveloped tracks of land where people can go bird watching, hike, or fish. The town used to be part of a cattle ranch own by the Duda family who decided to set aside parts of the massive acreage they own for development. The town is called Viera, and they created the Viera Company to sell tracks of land to builders. I last heard that there are currently 15,000 homes going up, yet hundreds, possibly thousands, sit empty in foreclosure, remnants of the credit crisis of 2008.
But people moving to the area want new construction that has never been lived in before, custom built by their specifications…and the Viera Company is all too willing to feed on that demand and prosper from it. I saw on the news that similar circumstances are occurring in Nevada and other areas that were hard hit by the credit crisis. So rather than purchase empty, foreclosed homes cheap, people instead are paying full price for a houses built on what used to be the homes of countless birds, small mammals, deer; and alligators, wild boars and bobcats in the case of Florida. The land of the new house may also have been a place where a boy had previously gone to seek solitude and commune with nature.
There is a song by the band The Counting Crows, called “Big Yellow Taxi,” with the refrain, “They Paved Paradise, Put Up A Parking Lot.” They song is about the lack regard for nature in favor of development that plagues our society. I really hope we come to our senses and start putting greater value on our natural treasures…for if/when the day comes that they are no longer around, mankind will be far worse off for it.
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.