The White River (picture courtesy of Brent Hagen)
The White River (picture courtesy of Brent Hagen)
Any battle has two opposing sides pitted against one another.  The result is there is always a loser.  But when it comes to our environment, if we want a future for our children and grandchildren we cannot afford loss.  We have to somehow find common ground and stop fighting over the planet and fragmenting it piece by piece.  The interconnectivity of all life must be understood and of value to our society, for without it we die.

Together, all species in nature make up a huge web of interconnectedness.  When one part of that web is torn, the rest is flexible; however the web changes in configuration.  As long as there are many strands left to hold the web together the integrity of the web remains somewhat intact.  But stretched too thin, at some point the web breaks down.  Our species once lived lightly on this earth, but we have exploded in technology, population, and demand for housing and consumer goods.  We are using up our planet’s productivity for our current wants and needs.  We are polluting the air, water and soil, blowing the tops off mountains, clear-cutting forests, draining wetlands and damming river systems, causing great tears in the web.   The United Nations confirms that current levels of species extinction and habitat loss are already seriously compromising our ability to meet human needs.  Our fate will depend on how we understand and treat what is left of the planet’s resources—land, oceans, species diversity and people.

A battle is raging in our backyard here in Indiana.  What is the common ground for the White River and Anderson, Indiana?  Surely there has to be some of this precious ground to be found somewhere!

On one side: Anderson, an economy and town struggling for revenue; proposing to dam the river, creating a reservoir which the Anderson Corporation for Economic Development feels would bring income to a faltering community.

The opposing side:  The White River; a Fen, 1/3 of Mounds State Park, endangered species, 420 families of Irondale, 100 businesses which would be relocated or lost from the rising water.

Mounds State Park features ten earthworks built by prehistoric Indians known as the Adena-Hopewell people; the best preserved remnants of this culture found anywhere in Indiana.  The largest earthwork, the Great Mound, is believed to have been constructed around 160 B.C.  Archeological surveys indicate the mounds were used as gathering places for religious ceremonies, from where astronomical alignments could be viewed.  The park also provides habitat for several threatened and endangered species.

The White River is a state-designated canoe trail.  It has been identified by The Natural Heritage Program as having outstanding ecological importance and in 1982 was identified in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory as qualifying for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.  This river carries a history of the people, the land, stories of feeder streams, and smells of the water, its fish, and sounds of buzzing insects, flying bats, flowers and trees.  Each turn of the river opens up a new landscape, something new that no person has ever seen in exactly this way before or ever will see again as flows rise, fall and change the rivers path.

Mounds Fen State Nature Preserve.  Due to the fragile nature of the wetland, this preserve has restricted access and is therefore not known to many local residents.   

Fen is a wetland formed by a broad area of groundwater seepage from the sand and gravel deposited by the glacial melt waters at the end of the last ice age.  This calcium-rich groundwater has a high pH, creating a unique alkaline wetland.  The DNR Division of Nature Preserves preserved this wonderful natural area for all future generations by dedicating it as a State Nature Preserve, the highest level of protection under Indiana law.  The proposed Mounds Lake Reservoir would destroy the entire wetland.

If we were being invaded by aliens or foreign powers  who  were blowing tops off our mountains, destroying our wildlife habitats, poisoning our water, killing plants and animals, causing extinction, would we sit back and let this happen or would we fight to save it?  We have met the enemy and he is us…we are the aliens or are we perhaps only spiders who feel we don’t need a web?

We must listen to our consciences, not the economic markets and large corporations who will destroy our species diversity to put money into their pockets.

Today the world faces a task: the prevention of irreversible losses of this planet’s capacity to support life.  It’s not just about the White River dam and the species which would be lost.  It’s about our planet as a whole, starting with each of us and this river right in our back yard!  The work of ages could be undone in the blink of an eye never to be replaced again.

So, let’s get busy finding alternative solutions to Anderson’s need for economic growth rather than allowing the great losses the proposed dam would bring to us all:  a fragmenting of several pieces of the web of diversity we all so desperately need to protect.

For purely selfish reasons, everyone alive has a stake in protecting what is left and fixing what ails this planet because the future is already here.  Our own personal survival is at stake.  To damage our children’s future is a deliberate act of theft.

I urge you to contact your legislators:

Tell them to:
-save all of Mounds State Park
-save the White River
-Save Irondale
-Save the Fen (A State Nature Preserve)
-save the mountain bike trails
-stop greedy developers!

For once it is done, it is done forever.  There are no inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction.  It’s time to get serious about protecting/saving our web of life!


(Thank you to Kevin Tungesvick for providing information to me about Mounds Fen State Nature Preserve)