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Delaney:Tale of Two Roads

10/19/10 7:55AM By Dennis Delaney
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(Host) Why would anyone want to build a road across paradise? Commentator Dennis Delaney says they shouldn't. And he says is an example why it's a bad idea.

(Delaney) What's a four letter word that links a fascinating, if not raucous, chapter of Vermont history to Tanzania, a sprawling Edenesque country in East Africa?

That word is "road".

Back in 1934, in the dark depths of the Depression, our ever pesty federal government, with its newborn we-know-what's-good-for-you attitude, proposed to fund and build a 270 mile road along the spine of the Green Mountains, the fabled Green Mountain Parkway.

The long and the short of the Parkway--may it rest in peace-- is that our flinty Vermont ancestors back in the 30s were a savvy lot, folks who just did not trust the federal government and its giveaway schemes. To give the devil his due, we were desperately poor back then and Washington thought a tourist choked parkway on our mountains would save us.

The battle roared on for two years until a vote on Town Meeting Day in 1936. Our grandparents did us proud. They gave a resounding "no" to free money and its intrusion into the beauty of this place.

Now to Tanzania.

In the northwest corner of that country, under what an early traveler described as "the high noble arc of the cloudless African sky", lies the vast Serengeti plain, only discovered by Europeans in 1913. The Masai herdsmen who roamed it for centuries named it siringitu, "the place where the land moves on forever". It has been said that if you want to know what the earth was like a million years ago, go to the Serengeti.

The Serengeti is unique on our planet for its vast beauty; it is also the home of the largest animal migration ever known. It's the annual migration of millions --that's right millions-of wildebeest, joined by zebras, elephants and giraffes. It is Mother Nature in a seasonal rite, joined arm in arm with wildlife searching for food and water. Humankind stay away, please. Some describe that migration as the most extraordinary natural phenomenon on  planet earth.

But the Serengeti finds itself where the Green Mountains were 75 years ago --an apple in the Garden of Eden of development. Tanzania's leaders, with foreigners paying the bill, are preparing to carve a road across the great migrations' path in the Serengeti. The lure is, of course, commerce to mitigate the poverty of Tanzania's people. However,  what is now heaven on earth will become a road choked with enormous trucks belching diesel fumes and caravaning night and day across the Serengeti. Fences would protect the road from migrating wildlife trying to get where they have gone forever.

I'm a Republican and so I'm not supposed to care about the environment. But I sure do here. Along with hawking maple syrup around the world our jet setting leaders should offer some of our Vermont common sense, the kind we showed back in the 30s. The world could use it and none more so than Tanzania and its road right now.
(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Dennis Delaney at vpr-dot-net.
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