This past Christmas the local TV news crews featured the hordes of residents sallying forth into the surrounding mountains to cut an evergreen to decorate in celebration of the birth of Jesus. Killing trees is somehow deemed appropriate to the occasion. Most of the trees cut were native Pinion Pines, a tough little single needle conifer whose prolific nut bearing cones were once a staple of the native diet. The Pinion takes generations of human years to reach maturity and a height to make it tempting to parlor display for the holiday.
Now the colorful custom of taking the family trekking in the snowy woods to drag back a temporary decoration might have been acceptable when Nevada had something less than a million folks on board, but now that we are thrice the number, it just ain’t right. Whole slopes in the open public forests are denuded and very nearly clear cut, leaving only the stunted and deformed standing. For many years this was considered progress in that it opened up acreage for grazing by sheep and cattle, a priority of land managers for most of the past century. BLM used to stretch old naval anchor chains between bulldozers and crag swaths of Pinion down to open up foothill range for Basque green card shepherds east of Minden/Gardnerville. The lowly Pinion just can’t get any respect.
If Nevada wants to sustain its unique mix of forested mountains and high desert valleys, some planning beyond the next election and the developers desires needs be done. . The current attitude, as exemplified by the younger Reid in his campaign for Governor, was a suggestion that pinion could be dozed and turned into bio fuel to make jobs for unemployed Las Vegas bartenders. Perhaps a Civilian Conservation Corps program of tree plantings could employ some folks, but there is a better way.
In Vietnam, the U.S. used Agent Orange to defoliate the jungles in which the Viet Cong and other natives were hiding. We lost the war, but they lost their forests. To restore the ecological balance school children were given seedling trees and sent into the field to replant the lost trees. Each student was responsible for their tree for the entire school career, and failing to care for and nurture it was considered a failure of a citizen’s duty. These students are now adults, man of whom still visit and care for their tree, but it will be their grand children who will know the return of jungle giants and native woods.
America needs to begin looking ahead and planning for a future environment that will sustain itself and us in time.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.