Diversity lost

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A jewel of natural diversity, the Ridge Nature Area, is being over developed and many of those values destroyed by the Southern Conservation Trust. The very name of this group implies that their mission should be to preserve the environment. And their plan for development of this area has been “blessed,” so I have been told, by the city of Fayetteville. This diverse area, so unique to Fayette County, needs protection, not destruction.

An example of their “plan for destruction”: Have you ever heard of the orchid: Florida Ladies-Tresses (Spiranthes floridana)? Well, the Southern Conservation Trust has and recently they destroyed two small beds of this protected flower. I had notified them of the location of these orchids weeks before the arrival of the bulldozers at the Ridge Nature Area, but those two areas of orchids no longer exist. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources comments on the status of this orchid states: “Only one population of this species has been found in Georgia, last seen in 1997 on private land.”

There may be a glimmer of hope for the orchids. Three more plants have been located, but their fate remains questionable.

The destruction of orchids is only the tip of the diversity decline. More development is planned, all of it in an immensely diverse area where dozens of species of wildlife and plants thrive. More of that area will soon be gone because the Trust is rushing forward with their plan because they have a pending grant request based on this plan. If, or when, the grant money is received, there is no turning back — they are committed to implement the plan once approved.

In my opinion, the Board of Directors for the Trust should be required to watch the Science Channel’s documentary “Racing Extinction” so they can see where environmental education should really be focused. Instead of destroying delicate little orchids, possibly driving them closer to extinction, they should be taking steps to save them.

I have tried on numerous occasions to convince the Trust that these, and other diverse natural resources on the Ridge, need protection. But their city-approved plan is evidently driving this process, a direct contradiction to the values they advertise.

Oh, yeah. They are trying to blame me for part of their problem. Of course they go after the individual objecting to the losses — no surprise there.

Not their finest hour.

Dennis E. Chase
Fayetteville, Ga.