When best in­ten­tions go awry

Rappahannock News - - COMMENT - RON MAXWELL Flint Hill

Just what the county needs — more as­phalt, more con­crete. Our en­tire coun­try is get­ting paved over. Whole neigh­bor­hoods are be­ing cov­ered in con­crete. Lanes are added, re­tain­ing walls are built. Forests are felled. Ecosys­tems de­stroyed. Wildlife driven out. Mil­lions of acres fall to this march of ‘progress’ ev­ery year.

As some­one who’s re­sisted this oblit­er­a­tion of wilder­ness, of na­ture and of ru­ral open spa­ces his whole life it was nat­u­ral for me to rec­og­nize in Rappahannock County an oa­sis, a pro­tected space, standing proudly and de­fi­antly against the blind, de­struc­tive ma­chin­ery of the ‘im­prover.’

It's why I chose to move here six­teen years ago. It’s why time after time I’ve raised my voice in the public square to de­fend the old ways, the ru­ral life, the nat­u­ral rhythms of the coun­try­side and its deeply rooted peo­ple.

I might have more open­ness to a sug­ges­tion for hik­ing trails or bri­dle paths. These path­ways are in har­mony with the nat­u­ral un­du­la­tions of the land. They do not scar it or change it or make it con­form to the hu­man hand. They do not cover the land with con­crete or as­phalt. The hiker or the horse and rider still sense the earth, the dirt, the land un­der foot and are one with it.

A bi­cy­cle trail is im­posed upon the land. It re­quires more of the land to be buried un­der tons of con­crete. Fur­ther­more, the pro­posed right of ways in ef­fect cre­ate a widen­ing of Route 211, visu­ally and aes­thet­i­cally im­pos­ing the same re­sult as if lanes had been added.

Over the years I’ve been heart­ened by this com­mu­nity’s re­sponse to the threats of adding more con­crete. We re­call the valiant, last minute tri­umph in stop­ping the paving of the Grim­s­ley road a few years ago. An en­light­ened, en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious com­mu­nity does not lay down more con­crete, it re­moves it wher­ever and when­ever it can.

If there's any grant money avail­able from VDOT, let's use it to re­store a few more coun­try roads to gravel. To un­pave. Not to cover the county in more con­crete.

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