Saturday, May 13, 2006

Farming is an industry that ruins the natural environment?

What an outrageous headline
There seems to me to exist a certain delicious irony in one or two interest groups proclaiming in so shrill a manner that industry and commerce threatens the rural life in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows when agriculture itself is a destroyer of the natural environment, both land and water bound. Frankly, if ruralists were honest with themselves (that is probably asking too much of them), those who wish to protect the farmlands of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge would be better engaged fighting for the dismantling of the dykes so that nature can go about its business unhindered by the threat of artificially created farmlands. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but I suspect that the same groups who fight for farmlands of Maple Ridge would probably, if asked vehemently oppose, for instance, clearing forests in South America and Asia for the purposes of agriculture. When it comes to double standards
the environementalists seem to know no bounds and happily continue ripping pages from the books of the very people they abhor.
"Holland meets rural England in the Vancouver, B.C., suburbs of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, bedroom communities surrounded by three rivers, forested parks, coastal mountains and a 30-mile network of dikes built by Dutch settlers in the 1950s." That is what the brochures say.

Part of the Lower Fraser River Valley, this area is an easy day trip from Vancouver but budgeting extra time for an overnight yields some nice surprises. Among them: a riverside B&B, a British-style pub and a free, five-minute cruise across the Fraser.

Unique to the area are the dikes — long stretches of raised earthen mounds surrounded by the rural Pitt Polder, a 217-acre low-lying mix of farmland, marshes and mudflats.

Dutch dairy farmers settled in the area after World War II, reclaimed the land along the Pitt, Alouette and Fraser rivers and, using techniques perfected in the Netherlands, built the dikes as a method of flood control.
Today, locals use the embankments as hiking, biking and horse-riding trails.