Our declining environment

I spent most of my life in the Calumet region of Indiana, the northwest part of the state nearest Chicago. The area was built by heavy industry, i.e., steel mills and oil refineries. These industries created the economy in the region, but they also destroyed whatever natural environment there might have been.

My father was a lifeguard at Hammond Beach, a popular water and sunbathing site on Lake Michigan in the ’20s. Today, the only thing that swims in those waters are lampreys, and the beach is coated with dead alewives. Industry brought the jobs, but what good is a job if you live and work in a sewer?

In 1993, I tired of the sewer and moved to God’s country. It was the best move of my life, but I’ve seen some disturbing signs.

That was reinforced when I attended a recent Naturalist Nights lecture at the Third Street Center in Carbondale. It was given by George Wittemyer of Colorado State University on the impact on wildlife of energy development, specifically the declining mule deer and sage grouse numbers in the Piceance Basin.

Wittemyer said habitat loss is the leading cause for the decline. Housing and gas wells destroy the needed vegetation and intrude on the open spaces these species require. I was dismayed to see the maps showing the proliferation of gas rigs in the beautiful Piceance Basin.

Is God’s country headed down the same road as the Calumet region? Where do I go next?

Fred Malo Jr.