Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bill Bryson

There is a Bill Bryson who writes quite good nature philosophy books. This is not him. My Bill Bryson is a local farmer, but he's a big deal to me. A hero. Bill and his wife Arlene are amateur naturalists, birdwatchers. Back in the sixties they set aside 68 acres surrounding their 18 acre marsh to protect it. In 1970 Freeborn County decided to run a new road through Bryson's marsh. Bill said, "No way!" The county huffed and puffed and issued an order of eminent domain. Bill fought it. He fought it all the way through the court system. It cost them a lot of money. They were threatened and harassed. Eventually it went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. It was the first test of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. This is from the 1976 ruling:

To some of our citizens a swamp or marshland is physically unattractive, an inconvenience to cross by foot and an obstacle to road construction or improvement. To one who is willing to risk wet feet to walk through it, a marsh frequently contains a springy soft moss, vegetation of many varieties, and wildlife not normally seen on higher ground. It is quiet and peaceful—the most ancient of cathedrals—antedating the oldest of manmade structures. More than that, it acts as nature's sponge, holding heavy moisture to prevent flooding during heavy rainfalls and slowly releasing the moisture and maintaining the water tables during dry cycles. In short, marshes and swamps are something to preserve and protect.


Bill slyly claims divine intervention. The day the justices came to view the marsh, it was covered with migratory waterfowl so close you couldn't see the water.



More: Maverick for the Wetlands

5 comments:

Jonny Hamachi said...

Good Ol' Bill Bryson.

He is a hero.

Mimbres Man said...

Bravo Bill!

Anonymous said...

Bryson is exceptional. But you should also dredge up and recognize the Justice that had the understanding and insight to write that opinion for the majority of the court. There hasn't been much poetry from the bench since Wm. O. Douglas stepprd down.

If I can steal an extra day can we get a tour?

Gunnar Berg said...

Depends on who you are. ???

Anonymous said...

Sorry; damn button got away from. I'm guilty of premature publication.