In so many environmental arenas, as David Brower (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Brower) once said, every win is temporary, every loss permanent. He was quick to remind us, knowing too well the cost of compromise: a half, of a half, of a half...a friend said.... leaves you with nothing.
[photo by David Brower 8/6/26]
Compromise only decides how much we are willing to lose never how much we are able to gain. To accept compromise as legitimate strategy, David Brower argued, that as conservationists we need to be unapologetic about our goals and our beliefs, that once we trade on those, we lose not only our campaigns, but our virtue and our credibility as well. As we know, the many conservation and environmental groups on our North Shore have compromised away too much over the past ten years or more. What damage has been done cannot be undone...
Dennis Coello, author of “The Complete Mountain Biker,” says, “In this day of man’s increasingly mechanical approach to the outdoors, when thousands experience nature not for what it is through observation but as a playground, there aren’t many places left where one is guaranteed one won’t be run over by a Jeep or snowmobile or mountain bike. Preserving those areas at the cost of a disgruntled few seems worth the price.”
I wish more mountain bike organizations shared Coello’s perspective. Unfortunately most leaders for organizations like the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), along with local biking groups, such as the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA), are among the most dedicated and aggressive mountain bikers. This group lobbies ceaselessly to open more trails on public land to mountain bike access. They will "win" again, a while conservation will lose in 2015, and beyond.
What does it mean, in the long term? Metro Vancouver no longer sees the Fromme watershed area in need of "protection" since the building of the new Capilano/Seymour filtration plant and tunnels. Are the mountain bikers actually "paving the way" for future road and housing development on Fromme?
There is also dialogue in the works between the various levels of government and the Squamish Nation over the future of Cove Forest, Blair Range, and Forest Mountain CMHC lands. You can be assured that these lands will be developed into pricey real estate, if this deal does go through. Even if it does not, we are left with damaged natural capital. What else would these forest lands be good for after the mountain bikers (pedal-powered and electric powered) have thoroughly razed the area in a few more years time, unabated?
I, for one, will not be continuing this sad, futile fight for proper protection and management of our forests and wetlands in 2015, as the writing is clearly on the wall. Conservation is left with nothing, while funding "washes downstream" for the mountain bikers.
If the battle for Maplewood Flats were being fought, today, it would most likely end up as a Shopping Mall and with condos all around it. The cost of compromise is clear. What we compromise, we lose. Yet, the aggressive mountain bikers have never compromised away their ideals, and refuse to compromise any of their trails ("No net trail loss") And that is going to cost us plenty, in the future.
Whither the conservationists/environmentalists, today?