Sunday, September 09, 2007

Grassroots Wants to Protect Trees from Drilling

In Dallas, the controversy over building a toll road within the Trinity River Project is one of the hottest issues in the upcoming election. Now another controversy has popped up along the river on its sister city side.

Chesapeake Energy has announced plans to drill on an eight acre site of woodlands along the Trinity Trail near Rogers Road in Fort Worth. Two and a half acres of trees will be removed to facilitate the drilling. The project requires that this area be kept barren for the duration of the project, estimated at 50 years.

A grassroots group, Trinity Trees, has organized to oppose this loss. They recently held a rally. Steve Smith at Caravan of Dreams has extensive coverage of the speakers and events, which included out-going Fort Worth City Council member Wendy Davis, and State Representative Lon Burnam. Steve also covered this in a column for Pegasus News.
Jim Bradbury with Trinity Trees explained the group's position: urban gas drilling has unknown consequences, connected tree canopy is important and alternative drilling sites exist on the Union Pacific site next door. They aren't against drilling, they are in favor of finding a third way, an alternative.
Steve follows up this extensive coverage, with a response to Bud Kennedy's editorial pointing out that the land in question has never been a park and was not intended by the city to be preserved.
I believe we can't leave it all in the hands of developers who are more concerned with maximizing profit than making this a better community. The fact is that green space matters -- and I'm talking trees, not money. Green space is as important as good roads, good schools and affordable housing. Look at Austin -- they have Town Lake, Zilker Park and Barton Springs. They have worked hard to preserve their natural environment, and it is a big part of the reason Austin is one of the hottest places to live in the country.
On their side, Chesapeake Energy has attorneys, full page ads in the FWST and property rights. Trinity Trees has grassroots activists, full page ads in the FWST, and the support of many Fort Worth notables. Both sides seem to be digging in for a protracted fight.
So who's the victim here? Well, as it stands right now, Chesapeake's reputation as good corporate citizen in Fort Worth appears to be teetering. As Bernie Scheffler, an opponent of urban gas drilling and a candidate for Wendy Davis' District 9 seat on the council said, "Why would Chesapeake Energy, who has spent millions polishing its public image in Fort Worth with commercials and billboards ... why would they blow all that goodwill on this?"
Note to Chesapeake. The longer this is an issue, the more scrutiny citizens will be giving drilling regulations, and they just might decide losing a few trees isn't their only concern. You lost this one the day they posted the photos of the baby bluebirds. Time to for plan B.

1 comment:

Steve-O said...

Thanks for bringing more attention to this issue. I believe than the people who live here, enjoy the Trinity Trees and want to protect the environment CAN make a difference. Getting the word out is a big first step.

Thanks for your help.