To Whom It May Concern:
We, the animals and plants that live in the Housatonic River Valley, are writing to express our concerns about the river "cleanup" proposed by your species. This is not a good plan and will be extremely disruptive to our lives.
Since the recovery of our ecosystem after years of abuse during your industrial era, our river banks and flood plains are now inhabitable again, and we can live and raise our offspring peacefully. Any attempt to cleanup the river will destroy our dens, nests and burrows. The polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are not bothering us, so why are they bothering you? We swim, fish (yes, some of us do eat other species, very much like your species) and enjoy the river just as much as you do.
We have seen very few two-headed turtles or frogs with missing legs. In fact, we assume the genetic mishaps that affect our populations occur at about the same rate they affect yours, which is pretty low. Even our majestic friend the bald eagle recently began to make his home along the Housatonic River. Not so good for the fish -- but that’s nature, right?
And that drainage ditch you built in Pittsfield -- there’s nothing natural about that. You forced all of our animal friends (OK, some are predators but we call them friends anyway), to move south along the river. We’re not experiencing overcrowding yet, but there is only so much room along the next 10 miles. In addition, where are we supposed to go when you excavate and build this highway river down to Woods Pond? Some of us can get away pretty easily, but we all don’t have wings.
Quite frankly, it’s amazing to us that you care so much about removing PCBs from the river when your species continues to produce and spew thousands of tons of toxins into the land, sea and air. We think you have bigger problems with the spraying of thousands of tons of pesticides on the food you eat, which by the way, usually ends up in our rivers.
Barreling down the river with all sorts of machinery and tearing up the river bed is really going to make our lives miserable -- so here’s the compromise solution. First, most of the PCBs are in Woods Pond, behind the dam. Clean out the pond. Most of us don’t nest their anyway because it’s too open and we would be too exposed to predation. October Mountain Road makes a great staging area for cleaning up as your species is not nesting along that road, and the truck traffic would be minimized because the site is so close to the turnpike. Even better, the railroad track is right there. We’re pretty certain something can be worked out.
We live here too! Let us keep our homes and enjoy the beautiful surroundings the river valley has become after you nearly destroyed it decades ago. The PCBs will eventually decay -- all organics do. It might take a few hundred or even a thousand years, but what’s the rush -- so you can eat the fish?
Sincerely, Housatonic Animal Alliance, June, 2014
Rich Woller is an occasional Eagle contributor.