View From the Nest… Thank you, Centerville Grange!

The Welcome Wagon is alive and well in Klickitat County. Having lived in our county for only 16 years now, we greatly appreciate the Grange’s generous acceptance of us as neighbors at last night’s meeting. We never expected to be so warmly received, since we’re such newcomers to the area and generally have liberal and environmental philosophies. After a wonderful, and all-too-generous, 20-minute introduction by Jim Link about wind power, property rights and our environmental efforts, the Grange Master graciously allowed us a 10-minute response to see if we could stir things up a bit. I guess folks expected horns to sprout, because… In our 16 years in this county, we’ve consistently been labeled eco-terrorists, eco-Nazis and environmental whackos by the right, and FBI agents, sellouts and accommodators by the left. So, we took great pleasure that the Grange folks chose to downgrade us to “environmental extortionists” and “eco-vigilantes” at last night’s meeting. We feel like we’re finally accepted in our community. After we were able to dispel any falsehoods about our recent actions -- a legal appeal of the Windy Point project, where, at tremendous personal expense, we secured $1.5 million to be dispersed to our financially hurting large landowners in the county, this strictly on a voluntary basis and for conservation easements and land acquisition -- the Grange Master “facilitator” graciously summed things up: “The birds did just fine without our help before and they’ll do just fine without our help now.” That sure gave us a warm feeling. We are bird lovers, and we’ve been hearing from a desperate scientific community for years that countless bird species are in precipitous decline and headed for certain extinction, so it was heartening to learn that they’ll do just fine. The Q&A that followed was even better with numerous folks asking very thoughtful questions about conservation easements, turbine-siting and lease agreements, such as “You folks are just eco-vigilantes,” and “you people are taking our money.” So, actually, I guess the joke’s on us. We’ve tried very hard, and again with great personal expense, to try to show that not all environmentalists are in it for personal gain. We made certain our settlement agreement was public and transparent. The $1.5 million will go directly to Columbia Land Trust, a very reputable Vancouver-based group that Klickitat County Commissioner Joan Frey even describes as having “integrity” and which understands the economic hardships wrought by large landowners in rural counties

and thus works to honestly accommodate these concerns in its efforts to protect important wildlife habitat. We feel as though we’ve bent over backwards to listen to and try to understand and appease these economic concerns. We even totally declined to accept any funds to us directly, to the shock of the developers, and instead have all the money directed to the CLT to be dispersed to landowners for their voluntary conservation efforts. We thought we were bringing home a great prize to Klickitat County, only to learn that they just don’t like our type here, and don’t like us messing in their business. Apparently, they’d much rather just pave their land than have to stoop to something as low as a conservation easement. So, we have to ask ourselves, why, oh why, did we allow ourselves this personal economic and emotional hardship in an effort to appease people who just think we’re evil-doers anyway? Only answer I can come up with is that, indeed, we must be whackos. Instead of all this effort and personal expense to try to help our community, we’ll put this money into therapy and counseling to help us become better American consumers, get our new HDTV, and just freaking chill out and let y’all gnaw on your own hands. Because, if facts and truth just don’t matter in this corner of the world, and we will always be viewed as evil-doers by people who can’t see an altruistic notion if it slapped them in the face, then what hope do we have? So, we’ve just got to get with the program here, and get our heads as far up our butts as possible, or we’re likely to go totally mad and file a lawsuit where we actually plan on recouping the expenses.

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