15 May 2006

The New Neighbors

About a week or so ago, new people moved into the house behind mine. Since this area has become a real estate hotspot -- prices are still affordable by California standards -- in the last 2 years, I have had 5 other new neighbors. Now since this is the desert and California, people will wave when they are in their cars but that's it. I have not met any of these new neighbors and with at least one, I'd rather not meet them. (I'll get back to them later.)

So, this weekend, the bulldozer arrived at my newest neighbors' house. Even before they got everything unpacked (boxes still in front of the house), they hired a bulldozer for the weekend to scrape allthe vegetation off their 5 acres. For 2 days, they scraped and dozed their land. With the exception of 3 or 4 Joshua trees, which are a protected species, they removed all plant life. Large clumps of yuccas. Magnificient clumps of cactus. Interesting desert wildflowers. All gone. Piled into large mounds of debris. Nothing left but dirt.

This is enough to make me cry. I love this desert. There are literally hundreds of plant species here, over 10 lizard/reptile species, dozens of bird species, plus an occassional bobcat. Except right around the houses, basically the desert was in pristine condition.

See, I moved here from Iowa. In Iowa, there was less than 1/2 of 1% of the native prairies still intact. A number of conservation groups were spending thousands of dollars to maintain and restore these little islands of nature land. Here, there's intact ecosystems right outside my front door. All one has to do is not intentionally destroy it and it will remain a functioning ecosystem.

Unless of course, everyone scrapes their land. Of the 5 new neighbors, 3 have scraped their yards. I really would like to know why. Are they afraid of the wildlife? Of wildfires? Do they understand how dusty it will be when the winds blow? Or muddy when it rains? Why not move into town if you want dirt? Why buy a house in the country only to destroy the nature habitat?

I actually know why one neighbor scraped his land -- his personal dirt track for his offroad vehicles. It's just so wonderful to try to relax on my patio with the dust and noise of his 4-wheel drive truck zooming around. I would like to point out to him that if he drove it 10 miles from here, he would have literally 100s of acres to race around. Ooops, I guess he can't because his truck, his motorcycle, and his jeep have no license plates. I must admit, he hasn't done much zooming around lately -- ever since another neighbor called the sheriff on him. (The law does frown on loud vehicles zooming around at 1am!)

Anyway, back to my newest neighbors, after they were done scraping, I went outside to water trees. Then I heard gun shots. I looked around and say a young kid shooting a rifle on my property. I approached him and told him to stop shooting on my land. He explained he was only hunting rabbits and apologized. Hey, people, if you didn't scrape your property bare, your son wouldn't have to trespass on my land to shoot rabbits!

I try to be understanding -- not everyone shares my love of wildlife and plants -- but it still makes me sad. I had planned on working on an alpaca portrait this weekend, but I couldn't concentrate with the sound of the destruction next door. I just hope I don't get any more new neighbors for a long time!

No comments: