By Dan Bartelheimer
There has to be a better way. Our environment does not appear to be improving in spite of the multitude of rules, regulations and penalties for violations.
One hundred and fifty years ago the area was forested and undeveloped and the fish and wildlife were abundant. Today, the virgin timber and most of the second-growth has been harvested, cities and urban sprawl has replaced much of the native wildlife habit, and there is a lot of infrastructure in place.
Federal and state agencies have been established with the intent to protect and enhance the environment. The direction most agencies have pursued to accomplish their objective has been through restrictive rules and regulations that take away property rights and impose great penalties when violated. Greater buffers near sensitive areas may not be providing the desired protection. Little is devoted to encouraging responsible stewardship. Rewarding and acknowledgment for doing the right thing is seldom done.
Fish numbers have continued to plummet. The expensive fish habitat restoration projects in the Snohomish river estuary may be a start, but how effective remains to be seen. A lot of money that is being spent on restoration projects appears to be allocated towards landscaping and beautification. Much of it will be destroyed within a short time from natural events.
Picking and choosing what we are protecting will fail. We need to be good stewards of all. If something is sacrificed today, we may find it necessary to place restrictive sanctions on it tomorrow.
In order for something to be accepted and successful, it needs to be beneficial to those whom it may impact. By taking property rights from a selective few in order to try in accomplish making improvements for the majority will create friction and resistance. If the greater majority will benefit by the actions and sacrifices of a minority, the majority should be willing to compensate for those sacrifices.
It may be less expensive, have greater success, and have better acceptance by a wider spectrum of the populace if the gist of the efforts were reward-driven rather than through threat of the law and penalties.
The efforts of one or a few will help but to make an impact and be successful, the greater community must be receptive and be proactive.
Responsible stewardship will require:
Education starting with our youth at an early age.
Self-respect and taking care of oneself.
Passion, sacrifices and willingness to do the right thing.
Acknowledgement and rewards along with compensation for taken property rights.
Cooperation and collusion from within both the private and authoritative communities.
When one is prevented from doing the right thing because the burden of the law requires more money, time or effort than one can justify, then a change needs to be made. But when we all work together then much will be accomplished.
Dan Bartelheimer is president of the Snohomish County Farm Bureau.