April 30, 2008: Who's the keeper of our environment?

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To The Editor:
You have waited all week for this. You have your fish pole in one hand and your tackle box in the other and you head down the bank to your boat. You row out to the peace and the beauty of your surroundings and then it happens, a motor boat goes by and the quiet is gone. You cast out into the water looking to hook that big one that got away last time and you hook something as big, you reel it in; it’s a large piece of garbage.
We know who is the keeper to the gate of heaven, but who is the keeper to the gate of the environment? I was led to believe it was the Department of Environmental Con- servation and the Department of Environmental Protection. Then why is it lately their name seems to be linked with the word development? They haven’t finished with our mountains yet and now they want to destroy our reservoirs, oh, excuse me, our lakes.
We, the people of this area, have given up a lot for those reservoirs to keep them clean to supply New York City. We have towns buried under there, graves of people that weren’t moved in time. People gave up their homes, jobs and their heritage for that water, my aunt and uncle included. Now they think it’s all right to disregard all this on a whim of some people who obviously have no regard for the human sacrifice that lies beneath that water.
We the people are not allowed to protect our own property from flooding, but they can do as they please when it benefits them.
We tried to take gravel out of the brook behind our house because of the threat to our home and property. It was very hard. Endless permits and regulations, then we were only allowed to take out so much. Next flood we got hit even harder, and we gave up trying to do any more.
They buy up land and do easements to protect the watershed then turn around and advocate things that will ruin it, like resorts on steep mountains and reservoirs for development.
We have to go through hoops to fish, hunt and walk on reservoir property. Remember, after 9/11 roads were closed to protect the reservoirs and now they want to open them for development.
Why do they act as though the economy is only bad in the Catskills and not the whole country? Are they taking advantage of this to destroy our natural beauty and resources? Hopefully the economy will get better, but once our environment is gone it will not come back.
Our politicians are spending so much time on this stuff I think they are forgetting that we can’t afford gas for our cars or food for our tables. A few jobs are not going to bring food or gas prices down, maybe they should be concentrating on that.
As far as the DEC and the DEP go, I think they should change their names to the Department of Environmental Contamination and the Department of Environmental Polluters. Maybe it is time for another Boston Tea Party; maybe we should all go to the reservoir and throw tea overboard. Oh, I forgot that would be polluting wouldn’t it?

Bernadette Beyea,
Margaretville