This week’s protestors all have similar objectives – they want better local land use, and more consideration for the needs and behaviours of many different forms of land user.
Utahns want their recreational space back
Around 3,000 Utahns marched on their state Capitol last weekend, to protest federal control of their open spaces. Their complaint is that forests and other lands are increasing being closed or having only restricted access and their protest is staged both against the federal government and environmental protestors who ask for areas of land to be turned into reserves. The protest attracted a wide range of people from farmers and hunters through to walkers and those who enjoy off-road riding: many protestors rode motorcycles, four-wheelers or other forms of all-terrain vehicle. The local Representative Mike Noel, said, ‘If you want to see what it’s like to live in a socialist regime, go to southern Utah.’
French beach users want less green slime
In Brittany, France, environmental groups have launched a range of protests from petitions, to placards, to demand for new legislation to remove algae from local beaches. The problem is not just unsightliness or odour – the concentration of the algae caused a horse to die, and its rider to collapse, after they both fell victim to fumes given off by the rotting material. An autopsy confirmed that the fumes killed the horse, and the rider’s owner has started legal action against ‘person unknown’ – but the assumption is that if the case gets to court, it will be local farmers who will be the subject of the action. A local environmental activist says that intensive farming practises cause chemicals from animal feed to enter local water supplies and that these chemicals cause the toxic gases in the rotting algae. Local authorities say they have made efforts to reduce the quantity of farm effluent that is released into the sea. Some towns have spent a lot of municipal money on algae reduction schemes because they fear it puts off tourists. However, scientists say it isn’t a systemic problem and there is no widespread danger to beach users.
Puget Sound won’t have another pier
In Puget Sound, a dock isn’t being built. The water reserve on Maury Island has been a battleground for years – Glacier Northwest wanted to build a pier which would support pipelines carrying fine sand out onto the water to load barges. Local protestors were ready to chain themselves to the construction cranes or form a barrage of kayaks to block access to the pier, but a federal judge made it unnecessary – ruling that such projects needed stricter environmental review. It wasn’t enough, ruled Judge Martinez, to consider the individual impact of a building or development, the cumulative effect of all built and planned building had to be factored into the equation. He went on to say, ‘No single project or human activity has caused depletion of the salmon runs or the near-extinction of the … orca, or the general degradation of the marine environment of Puget Sound. Yet every project has the potential to incrementally increase the burden upon the species and the Sound.’ Local residents, who’ve been fighting the development, were jubilant, but Glacier Northwest feel the judgement is unsound because it means they must remove the sand with trucks which means more environmental impact on roads and use of fossil fuels.