Loss of trees and hedgerows, and prospect of turbines, put countryside in peril locally

Posted 23 May 2019 at 6:55 am


(This speech was given to the Orleans County Sportsmen’s Federation on May 21.) I was asked to come here tonight to talk about current events that effect every person living in Orleans, Genesee, and Niagara counties one way or another.

I’ve provided satellite photos of a portion of Orleans County. The first one was taken in 1995, the last one was dated 2017. You will notice the loss of a great deal of forest, small wooded lots, and hedge rows.  Along with that, persons have drain-tiled a vast area of farm land which takes away pot holes that migrating species survive on.

As you travel in the three counties being sportsman or woman you may say to yourselves, “Gee, where did that hedgerow go?” or “Look! They are taking more of that woods” or “Oh my, look at the size of those Oaks, or Hickory, or Beach, or Cherry trees they are logging out.” And all along your thinking, “Well, I’m sure that somebody, someone, or government agency is looking into it, or making sure they don’t take too much.”

I’m not going to get into the blame game, that’s not why I am here. I am here tonight to provide you with my observation and facts concerning us all and the place we call our home.

As a child I was once told by a person I respected greatly, “Leave this place better than you found it” and that’s my goal.

Let’s talk about what the trees do for us. I’ve provided you with a paper prepared by three colleges in the West titled, “Trees Against the Wind.” In that publication you will find that they have determined that hedge rows left adjacent to farm fields do so much for the farmers. You have to wonder why we are removing so many. Trees also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Trees are instrumental in providing rain fall. Trees shelter homes from bitter winter winds, which if removed cause energy usage for homeowners to skyrocket, which therefore causes the increased usage of fossil fuels to heat homes and businesses. Trees also provide homes for birds, bats, owls, wood ducks, squirrels, and let’s not forget the bees.

Trees provide what’s called mast which are nature’s food crops that feed turkeys, deer, squirrel, and birds with much needed nutrition for the winter to come. Trees help prevent erosion of farm fields, trees also help mitigate overspray incidents (which by the way are skyrocketing).

I am also going to suggest that people here purchase a copy of this core manual for pesticide safety education. It can be found at Cornell Cooperative Extension at this very location. It cost $40, however I believe its money well spent.

While cancer rates keep rising it boggles the imagination why in some circles we believe that the solution to all problems is the next chemical to be liberally distributed and sprayed on all of our foods and fields. I’ve been slapped with what’s called the Food Security Act of December of 1985 P.L99-198 also known as the 1985 U.S Farm Bill on a number of occasions while speaking to bureaucrats.

In summary I believe it says, provide affordable foods and fiber for low-income people and the rest of the population included. You only need to ask yourself then, “Is that why we find veggies and soy in most of our pet foods?” “Are we producing too much of certain crops that we need to place them everywhere?” And, knowing that most of the world does not want or need America’s food crops, I simply have come to the conclusion that certain agencies are responsible for leaving our farmers behind the rest of the world.

It’s time for a change America. We need to begin focusing on our home and how we can begin to bring a fix to help rural property owners, sportsman and sportswomen, and also to farmers as well.

Now let’s discuss other issues. Some local farmers and landowners are disappointed because they feel they have lost the battle to install 600- or 800-foot industrial wind turbines in our rural landscape, this has set off a fire storm. You see a letter from the Orleans County Sportsman Association stating some of the federation does not endorse the proposed Lighthouse or Heritage Winds projects.

In response to that, certain people are threatening loss of usage of their lands for snowmobiling, ATV and hunting. Along with that, in Barre we have had several documented cases of theft and vandalism too (no turbine yard signs), as well as other vandalism to property owned by people who openly opposed these projects.

Looking at the big picture here, I think everyone in this room can come to the conclusion that the place we call home, the place where our children play, swim, fish, and reside is in peril.

What are all of us, that includes government agencies, farmers, sportsman and women, rural land owners, and local representatives going to do? I offer one solution: let’s meet with representatives from all government agencies and encourage them all collectively to work together to make Orleans County great again for all of us.

John Metzler