Patchwork and greed

Patchwork and greed

By Rod Myers, Naturalist

A wolf sighting was reported to me by a naturalist who lives in northeastern Winnebago County. She was on her way home with the kids on I-90 when she saw it. The unconfirmed wolf was just north of Riverside and just east of I-90 in a farmer’s field. The sighter said it wasn’t far from that mini-golf place with the fake mountain. The animal was also just a short deer chase from Rock Cut State Park.

Adrian Wydevan, Wisconsin’s top wolf biologist, believes lone wolves use highways like I-90 not only as a guide map but also as a man-free zone 100 acres or more wide flanking one or both sides of the road. Of course, the traffic is a serious threat for careless wildlife, but wolves find prey on the flanks, especially live and road-killed deer and other mammals.

Wildlife using Winnebago County’s I-90 corridor had better wear a hard hat or learn how to mini-putt because development threatens them. Fake mountains and packs of unrestrained developers spell disaster for wildlife corridors.

I was jostling for position under the able-bodied trees near the east basket at a Lightning game when a man said, “Make room, make room,” as he made basketball fans in front of me move aside.

“Hi, I’m Jesse White,” said the man. “I’m here with the Tumblers. Can you see the court now?”

“Yes,” I said. “Thanks. Hey, I voted for you!”

“Thanks,” said Jesse.

“No offense, Jesse,” I said, “but you didn’t have much competition.”

“Maybe so,” he replied, “and you know, she didn’t even call on election night to concede.” And Jesse went on for a couple of minutes about the non-concession. Then I told him I’d vote for him next time if he ran. I thanked him again for helping and wished him luck in office. At that moment, I was a beaming Democrat. Too bad the Democrats and Republicans are joined at the hip around here when it comes to unwise development. From now on, I’ll refer to them as Hippies.

Someone from that other newspaper suggested that the outside of the Rockford MetroCentre be painted with murals, and I agree. Let’s dedicate one side of the building with a mural representing the natural beauty in Winnebago County. Paint a patchwork of ecotypes represented by their respective plants and wildlife. Then sprinkle the natural area art with a collection of human diversity, respectively enjoying nature. You end up with patches of wet, dry, sandy and mesic prairie, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, sedge meadows, bogs, prairie potholes, savanna upland and lowland forests.

Then take the patchwork and extend it around the edge onto the other side wall, but have each patch being degraded with heavy equipment. This will be the over-developed side. As you move to the middle, the patches will turn into a checkerboard of cementings tempered with ugly buildings, all lined, squared and wormed by unnecessary roads and extra paved paths.

The middle of this wall should be painted with sadly humorous scenes. For example: The Harrison-Springfield extension with its famous little black hole swallowing cars, vans, trucks, pork barreling politicians and county board members with its queen. Title it “Dante’s Inferno, Ditzler Style.” Frame this masterpiece with the mythical Perryville extension thing that wouldn’t die. There’s a dozen other scenes that could be painted in the sadly humorous section.

The Sugar River corridor and the Pecatonica River corridor between the Sugar and Rock rivers in northern Winnebago County offers some habitat for wolves, though they need bigger areas to become established. Still, it’s an interesting thought if you imagined wolves in our county traveling from chains of forest preserves to the other chains and periodically roaming to the patchwork of unconnected preserves in between.

But development makes this difficult, or at least an unwise development. However, wolves are adapting to people more than people are adapting to them. If one or more wolves settled down here and became close neighbors, a good number of humans would be upset, some irate. But listen, my friend and neighbor, a pack of greedy developers is extremely more dangerous than a pack of wolves.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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