Oh what fun we all had figuring out which milkweed I found at Highland Reserve.
Now comes the part where I reveal that Highland Reserve is a development I am involved in. I know it may seem funny for those of you who know my eco warrior tendencies to think of me as a developer, even a small one, but it is true. I figure that the huge population increase we are facing over the next 50 years will overwhelm us with the modern equivalent of row houses if we don't adjust how we grow. And, since leaving the shape of our future world to Republican mercenaries is a recipe for global disaster, I believe we have to be involved in how we propose to install ourselves upon the earth. It will also be important to adjust how we make our livings and how we play.
Americans can be amazingly selfish and destructive in how they spend their leisure time. Seemingly litle things can have huge repercussions. ATV's, Jet Skis, sure but guess what? Trout fishing comes to mind as an example. There is only one native trout in the Eastern United States and that is the Brook trout, a small but beautiful native of our cold water streams. The brown trout was brought in from Europe and the Rainbow from the western U.S. and entire ecosystems were suddenly altered. Nothing changes an ecosystem like tossing in a new predator with a high reproductive rate and no enemies to speak of. Undoing the damage is very difficult.
Example after example of this kind of thing are everywhere, Rabbits in Australia, Small mouth bass in Japan...seemed like a good idea at the time, to the small group of selfish people who were just looking for a fun way to spend their spare time. Only they never gave a moment's thought to the unintended consequences of their actions, all just looking for some fun, either not knowing or not caring that they were setting in motion the destruction of entire ecosystems.
So we have to change. All it will take is a little forethought and consideration. We must call for an end to selfishness!
I'm going to let you take a peek into my crystal ball...it's not pretty, but I think you should know. The population of the United States is predicted to increase by 100,000,000 people in the next 50 years. This means two things...ok, three:
You had better teach your children Spanish!
We had better figure out how we are going to fit them all in without destroying what little we have left of our country.
We must create and preserve natural areas at all costs.
WE have to buy this land to save it. Hmmm....Somehow in this country, we have come around to land as a commodity...Somebody owns all of it, and they think that they should be able to do whatever they want because it is "My Land!"
Well, me too! But I'm the oddball type who understands that the entire world is a system requiring all of its parts to function in order for me to "Live long and Prosper!"
Cut all the trees down and plant fescue and we all suffocate...mainly because we kill the oceans with the poisoned runoff from our lawn chemicals, but you should get the picture by now. We need trees and the natural systems of forests in order for humans to exist on this earth. The way our society works, we have to pay to save it. And by that, I don't mean sending a small check to the Audubon Society, thought that's a good start. What I mean is that we have to find a way to pay for land that is set aside for natural receation, and then we have to promote natural recreation as a major part of our lifestyle.
As we get older, it becomes harder and harder to be active enough to stay fit and healthy, so we have to build it in to our daily activities. Going to the gym or track may work for a few, but most people are like me, about the second time I go around that track I start to go brain dead. Give me some scenery and something interesting to look at and some fresh air filtered by a forest, and I can go and go and go! I just don't seem to notice my bad knee when I know that a few hundred yards up the trail there is a wetland seep coming out from under a rock ledge that will have butterflies and tadpoles to look at.
It's way better than TV!
I saw a the first Fritillary butterfly of the year at exactly such a place. Some of these are very large and active and difficult to photograph. Some of these are very rare. Their world is shrinking. Yours is too...So!
As we build our houses we have to survey off and keep natural enough land to keep us alive, and this gives rise to developments like Highland Reserve, and No, Highland Reserve is not a wild eyed eco development. It will look pretty much like other developments when you walk past the houses on the ridge, except that you will have a view of the Smoky Mountains on clear days. And there will be large commons areas for various purposes and uses, and some easement protections on some land for no reason at all except to let it be.
We'll deal with the erosion from the old iron mines and poorly done logging and let Mom Nature fix things.
I have been shooting the wildflowers as I hike the property to lay out walking and horse trails. The Whorled Milkweed we see in the picture is next to one of the proposed walking trails. It should be there, or its grandchildren should be there, many years from now. Everyone who lives at Highland Reserve will help share the cost of preserving this habitat, and they will share in its rewards. Natural recreation in the form of horse riding, bicycling, walking and hiking will be available by simply stepping outside.
Will it work? We'll see. I'm very hopeful. This kind of thing has been very successful out west. My partners seem to have the kind of courage it takes to leave a little profit on the table in order to create something special. In the mean time,
...I'm having some "natural" fun.
Seamus nailed the flower. Sometime we may be able to get him to write a piece on Marie Mellenger, the Grand Dame of the North Georgia Mountains.
Milkweed is probably Asclepias quadrifolia. Marie Mellinger gives the common name "whorled milkweed" in her GA atlas.