Bird Brains Outsmart Progressive Brains
When does the dismantling of an aged, blighted, environment-exploiting symbol of capitalism and the returning of a small portion of a beautiful body of water to its delicate natural state -- a simple no-brainer for any greenie worth his weight in solar panels -- cause a dilemma for the environmental movement? It does so when it happens to be colonized by a protected species of nesting birds like the ones inhabiting the old eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge.
I’ve been watching this story unfold for the past several months (Hat tip: Brian Sussman and KSFO) and somehow these birds continue to have the audacity to refuse to do what bureaucrats armed with massive taxpayer funded coercion wish for them to do:
With the demolition of the old Bay Bridge eastern span already six months behind schedule, Caltrans plans to spend $12.8 million to beat the clock on a bird-nesting season that could tie up the takedown well into next year.
At issue: 800 or so double-crested cormorants - a state-protected "species of special concern" - that have enjoyed migratory squatter rights on the bridge since they moved here from Alaska, Mexico and Nova Scotia in 1984.
Does the fact that some of these birds happen to be illegal immigrants explain the apparent preferential treatment they’re getting and why it is that the taxpayers are being tarred and feathered to such an extent? And the situation is only getting messier for taxpayers:
Cute as they may appear, the double-crested cormorants and other birds that call the old Bay Bridge home are fast becoming a $30 million-plus headache.
As crews demolish the 10,000-foot-long steel structure where the birds roost, they’ve had to navigate around broadly interpreted state and federal environmental laws designed to protect the feathered critters.
“We are not going to argue with the law -- the issue is often the interpretation of it,” said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, which is overseeing the tear-down.
“And the fact is, the bridge construction has suffered tens of millions of cost overruns and months of delays as these (enforcement) agencies have interpreted the regulations,” Rentschler said.
The bird-friendly moves include Caltrans spending $709,000 to build 2½-foot-wide nesting “condos” on the underside of the new bridge, in the hopes that the 800 or so state-protected cormorants would move off the old span.
An additional $1 million has been spent to try to lure the birds over to the new bridge, using bird decoys, cormorant recordings and even nests made from discarded Christmas wreaths.
But the birds haven’t budged, prompting Caltrans to draw up Plan B — speeding up the demolition in the hopes of beating next spring’s nesting season because, once the birds start laying eggs, the work has to stop.
How could it be that human progress has caused nature to act so -- unnaturally?
It appears that man and nature are able to peacefully coexist as many species simply adapt to changes in their surroundings -- as has occurred for millions of years -- and sometimes even prefer what man has to offer. But there may be a hidden lesson in this for a state like California.
Build all future dams with thousands of “structural” concrete cubbies that are sure to become populated with one or more protected species. A bird, a snail -- it won’t take much. There will then be no way on Mother Earth that we’ll be seeing dams removed or the fight for the removal of others without an enormous amount of in-fighting amongst various environmental groups with competing interests.
So in the future, don’t just construct a new “dam” to help curtail the water woes of a state like California. Build a massive concrete-reinforced wildlife “sanctuary” that directly backs up to beautiful “wetlands.” The enormous “Cormorant nesting platform” spanning the San Francisco Bay that was previously built has clearly been an enormous success.
Perhaps the birds are more open to real progress than those who call themselves progressives?
Scott blogs at www.politiseeds.com