“We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Walt Kelly creator of the comic strip “Pogo”
Today, I came across an article that read, “About 150 volunteers will plant 80 chestnut trees and other native trees on Saturday at an abandoned coal mine now called Hellbender Bluff, a 750-acre county park in Columbiana County, Ohio.” This struck me as commendable and wonderful but not in any way surprising.
However, the article continued on to say, “The two projects are among more than 30 so far this year to reforest hundreds of thousands of acres of ground disfigured by surface mining from Northeastern Pennsylvania to Alabama. It’s an enormous challenge that will take decades.”
Wow. What a project. The details are:
- Nearly one million acres of abandoned mines that are now mostly grasslands
- Ranging from Alabama to Northeastern Pennsylvania
- Projected to take one hundred years to complete
The elements needed to make this a success are enormous. Yet, someone somewhere came up with the idea and enlisted other people for the project. The idea grew from there and, now, it’s moving steadily towards its goal.
Patrick N. Angel, senior forester and soil scientist at the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, is quoted as saying, “These sites look like Wyoming or the prairies of Colorado. Forests are the natural state of things in Appalachia.”
It’s not surprising that someone would look at an abandoned mine and think that it would be great if some trees were planted there. It’s also not surprising that someone would be bright enough to realize that it would be a great opportunity to plant chestnuts since a tree blight had wiped out four billion of them.
What is exceptional is that some dedicated people decided not to let the enormity of the project stop them. They decided to tackle the insurmountable and make it happen. How many times have we all passed up a great idea after a little thought because it seemed impractical or would take too much effort? It would involve too much time? Where would you get the man hours? Who/what would pay for it?
I don’t know how many times the people putting together this project were told “no” or how many things (or people) blocked their path. Whatever the history of the project might have been, I know I’m not the only one very happy for their vision and tenacity.
Perhaps, today is the day for starting that great idea that might be more than a handful. Perhaps, what we need to do is to see the insurmountable as Walt Kelly and his creation Pogo did, “We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.”
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