Trees are beautiful. And important. And in Columbia we care about maintaining Open Space and keeping a healthy natural environment for our community. But over time we have come to have a problem with trees. We worship them. The cutting down of one tree is cause for grief. The cutting down of multiple trees is a calamity.
- Write the newspaper
- Call your congressman
- Rant online
I do believe trees are important, and I do believe that protecting our natural environment in Columbia should be a high priority. But there's a double standard at work here that no one seems to want to acknowledge.
If trees are so important, let's go back and replace the ones that used to be where your house is now. Poof! More trees, no house. Your child's school--poof! No school. Your favorite restaurant, shop, athletic club. Poof! More trees.
All these places once had trees. They had to be cut down for you to be here. Why is it not a crime? Do you feel guilty? Are you willing to donate your land back to the community so that it may be returned to nature?
"But I own that!"
Ah, property rights. Well, that's different then.
What about the property rights of the people who own the Crescent Neighborhood property? Should they just be willing to donate the land to remain natural forever? It was always zoned to be developed in just the way we are seeing right now. Does the right of ownership apply only to you and your house, but not "those" people Downtown?
Columbia is a special and beautiful place. We need to work to protect and preserve our natural environment, because it is a part of what we love and believe in. But that does not preclude respecting the property rights of others. And it doesn't mean we can't be excited for new things happening which will bring new life to our city.
It's okay to feel sad when a tree comes down. It's not okay to offer up other people's land for a purpose that would make us feel good, when we would never in a million years offer up our own.
Think about it.