What does stewardship mean?

In his essay The Unforeseen Wilderness, Wendell Berry, speculating about the stability of the world around him, suggests that the notion that the world is fixed and permanent is perhaps “the most persistent human delusion.” To illustrate his point, he offers an example of a house that a young child finds permanent and unchanging, but which the owner knows is in “constant jeopardy of decay” absent ongoing maintenance and care.

A similar jeopardy threatens our lakes and shorelines due to the persistent negative affects of urban development at the water’s edge and in the watershed above. These changes, including increased impervious surface, pervasive shoreline hardening, and removal of most shoreline vegetation, have degraded the physical, chemical and biological processes that create and maintain shoreline aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Absent a concern and stewardship similar to the homeowner caring for his home, continued decline in ecological health is inevitable.

Assuming you accept this premise, what does stewardship mean to those of you who live on the water and those of you that do not? Does a shoreline property owner have a unique responsibility that an upland owner does not share? If so, what is it? What role does the upland property owner play?

1 comment:

  1. Michael,

    I sent you an email recently regarding my opinions on the SMP process that was presented to the public on May 21st. I have not heard back on my invite to come take a cruise on Lake Sammamish to show you how your scientific studies failed miserably in assessing the issues of this lake. I feel that your presentation on May 21st completely missed the boat so I am offering you another one.

    Your studies pointed to the lack of water front park access for Bellevue residences but you decline to acknowledge that the topography of the Bellevue portion of the lake makes this quite impractical to even consider. Where would you find parking? Lake Sammamish has a very abundant amount of parks and private non buildable recreational lots that have natural vegetation and no bulkheads. There is more public access to this lake than most lakes. Why does your data not even mention this? Why do you fail to mention the major damage done by the storm drainage issues? You replied that fixing the storm drainage problem is a major cost to tax payers. Making waterfront owners pay tens of thousands of dollars on EIS’s does not fix these issues either. I see very skewed data being used the wrong way to promote ulterior agendas your scientific studies are masking over.

    Someone upland that washes their cars, fertilizes their lawn or dumps bad chemicals down the storm drains unknowingly is causing damage to my front yard. It seems that I would know better than to do that to my own yard but they don’t see that damage and the City of Bellevue does nothing to keep that from my yard. Who might be the better steward here? Let’s take a boat ride.

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