Priceless

Yesterday, five of us canoed from Daleville (the Canoe Country livery) to downtown Anderson.   According the USGS gauging station, the river was running at 86 cubic feet per second— its lowest discharge rate so far this year, but still adequate for an enjoyable journey in beautiful weather.

When we reached the Irondale neighborhood, we came upon a father with his two young sons fishing from the shore.  I asked them about their position on the planned reservoir.  The dad replied that he hadn’t decided yet, but that they would lose their home.  Our reply was “That’s not the only thing you’ll lose.”

When we embarked on our trip a few hours earlier, we took a minute at the put-in to read a few pertinent words from a 1998 speech by Tom Dustin who was a much-respected Hoosier conservationist for more than 40 years–

“In a 1996 book entitled The Call of the River author Page Stegner provides this characterization:  “The call of the river is a complexity of motion and sound which extracts from mere mortals the wildest diversity of emotional response.  Awe, dread, tranquility, devotion, ecstasy.  The river is an abstraction of universal force.” 

            Yes, the call is all of that, but it is still more.  One does not have to conquer a river to feel its tug upon our souls; in the very end one is not even required to paddle it to feel its magic.  As with a distant wilderness that we may never see, it is a fulfillment to know that it is even there; and with that knowledge as our main reward, we are justified to fight like junkyard dogs to assure present and future generations that a good representation of these creations remain to enrich all life by its very existence.  That is a very satisfying framework of mind, heart and soul.  But it carries a heavy obligation for the forces afield bent upon their conversion, “improvement”, “mechanization”, “development”, are in fact determined to destroy these remnants of our heritage.  The evidence of this fact is found on every hand and is irrefutable”.   

We can appreciate the father’s ambivalence in the matter— he doesn’t know how much compensation might be involved from a buy-out of his home (if the reservoir plan is determined to be viable), so he hasn’t decided whether it would be in his best financial interest.  Yet did he also consider the high value of the beautiful stream setting and his ability to enjoy the afternoon which his children in a quiet, natural place?

We believe the value of that public good is priceless.

 

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