A Better Plan Is Needed For Quarry Golf Course At Mountain Creek

Friday, December 6, 2019

With regard to the ongoing saga of the old Quarry golf course and its proposed development, I reject the proposed plan endorsed by the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy (Chattanoogan - Breaking News 11/30/2019) and believe a better outcome can be achieved. There is a middle ground that involves all R-1 construction including preserving the tree, greenspace, streams and ponds.  The NCCC position is not in alignment with the Friends of Mountain Creek position and the compromise to which is alluded in the article is not consistent with the wishes of several thousand signatories to the FOMC petition.

However, in a perfect world, I prefer that the Quarry remain a recreational greenspace available to all, as it has been for generations. Mr. Pratt should accept FOMC’s offer to buy the property to create a conservation easement or create that easement himself.  

If you have not lived in this area you cannot understand the beauty of this acreage and the abundance of wildlife it supports. Canadian geese annually flock to the waters to lay their eggs and raise their goslings. River otters have been videoed plating in the creek just downstream from the ponds; kingfishers hunt here frequently. Herons, red-shouldered hawks and egrets can be found as well as snapping turtles. Deer roam the area as do other mammals including bobcats. The plan NCCC endorses will destroy most of this habitat.

Considering NCCC is a conservancy, why in God's name would they endorse a plan that would do basically nothing to conserve this beautiful area, but instead virtually destroy it? Is it due to short-sightedness, not willing to see the big picture outcome of gaining a parking lot while losing this extremely valuable habitat? Or is the sweetness of a quid pro quo an offer that can’t be refused? I encourage NCCC to rethink their stance in this matter, if conservation is actually something that you stand for.

These quotes are from the NCCC website:

"Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws ITS LIFE, ITS STRENGTH..."

"Conservation is a wide field of study and action that includes the effort to preserve natural environments that border on human developments."

"...remain aware of the world around us, to realize our part in contributing to the unbalance, and to consciously work to minimize our own impact on the natural world while doing what we can to repair it, too."

"The watershed represents some of what is best on the planet..."

"NCCC has protected over 14,000 acres throughout the watershed and takes pride in its historical successes, while being ever mindful of the future and the following generations."

"Through scientific, regulatory, historical, and other thoughtful mechanisms, NCCC strategically chooses an activist approach to all work relative to the ecological base of the watershed."

Now, when these statements are considered in light of the NCCC position regarding the Quarry, I cannot but help note a bit, perhaps a large bit, of hypocrisy in the NCCC position. It is not my intention or desire to offend or impugn the Conservancy, however...seriously? The Conservancy can make all of these statements and then support a position that is counter to them all - for the sake of a parking lot?

Furthermore, is NCCC not familiar with the current lawsuit against the developer due to claimed destruction and theft of property at one of his newer developments? Does this not raise a potential red flag?

I can understand somewhat the willingness to embrace this apparent bait-and-switch and how it must seem like a good deal for NCCC. But please consider the negative implications to wildlife, the residents and to the peace and beauty that can remain if this land is, at best, left unmolested and, at worst, developed sensibly with adequate greenspace. Once it's gone - it's gone. 

I trust that the Conservancy governance will carefully consider their position going forward. This actually could be a "watershed" moment for the organization. Frankly, I would think there could be PR blowback from the NCCC current position, but that's just one man's opinion.

I have offered my personal opinions in this piece and trust that others will look more deeply into this matter. If your opinions align with my own, I would encourage you to make them known to NCCC staff and to contact Friends of Mountain Creek.

In closing, I am probably close to twice the age of most NCCC staff. I have belonged to and financially supported at least seven different environmental organizations in my lifetime, serving as board member and vice-president of one of those organizations. I am also a mountain biker and kayaker. Knowing what I know about the overall situation, as an avid environmentalist and outdoorsman, I would never take the NCCC position. I implore them to reconsider.

And, finally a quote from Leo Tolstoy: “One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.”

Gregory Smith

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