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Thanksgiving is a good time of year to pause and offer thanks for what we have been given.  Here are a few things to be thankful for from an environmental perspective.

Wild Turkey. Wikimedia Commons
The CT DEP estimated there were 35,000 wild turkeys in CT in 2007.

Environmental Laws.  Yes, regulations can be cumbersome and pesky at times.  But the fact is, that without these controls, industry would have little incentive to upgrade their processes and equipment to minimize pollution.  Laws enacted in response to public demand include the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  If it weren’t for these laws, society would probably still be dumping hazardous waste into rivers and holes in the ground, and spewing even more pollutants into the air.

VolunteersVolunteering doesn’t pay, but it does help make the world a better place.  Busy citizens take time away from work, home, family and fun.  They donate their precious skills and passion to conservation, planning, zoning, wetlands protection, preservation of open space and historic and cultural resources, and more.  In the process, they may be subjected to attack by mean-spirited malcontents.  Fortunately, some volunteers are able to keep their eye on the ultimate prize.  Despite the many challenges, they continue their grass roots efforts for the benefit of others.

Public Servants.  Working in public service can be a frustrating and thankless job.  Many organizations do not have adequate resources to accomplish what needs to be done.  Change tends to occur at a glacial pace.  Employees must wade within a bureaucratic quagmire. They could usually earn more money in the private sector. Yet some persevere and are able to make a real difference over time.

People preserving open space.  Each year, millions of acres of forest and farmland are gobbled up by sprawl.  Some admirable landowners, donors, organizations, public servants and volunteers have unselfishly partnered to secure open space and keep farming alive.  Current and future generations of humans and wildlife owe them a debt of gratitude for the generous legacy they leave for us all.

The Media.  The Villager provides me this space once a week to address environmental issues affecting our world.  The Internet offers a medium that facilitates instantaneous sharing and discussion of scientific and practical information with a limitless number of people.  Accurate, organized, accessible and up-to-date information gives us the power to change the world.

Second Chances.  Some environmental damage is irreversible.  In other cases, the cost to repair the consequences of our lack of knowledge or thoughtless behavior is beyond our reach.  But every once in a while, we get another chance to do the right thing.  The possible survival of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is a rare opportunity to learn from the past.  The discovery has reinvigorated conservation efforts.  We can only hope it is not too late for this majestic bird.

Speaking of big birds…wild turkeys were wiped out in CT by the early 1800’s as a result of forest clearing, unregulated hunting and a series of severe winters.  Thanks to the reintroduction of 356 wild stock from 1975-1992, turkeys are now back in all of the State’s 169 towns.

Originally published in the Villager newspapers on November 23, 2007

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Last updated October 25, 2016

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