The County of Prince George’s will by act of its Council today choose to place a waste transfer station one mile from the Patuxent River. Because the current landfill site is due to close in three years, the county is moving forward with this transfer station that will be located south east of the county seat in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. For the good of the county, all the trash will come to this site, processed and shipped out to somewhere, in theory, by rail. The short term solution at hand, the current deciders, the political class, quietly and efficiently worked a not-in-my-backyard solution, finessing a superb short term solution.
The thought that the county might actually need the free eco-system services that the wetlands provide is lost in near term expediencies. The idea we should spend tax dollars on securing parkland to enhance a major waterways ecosystem for the production of clean water is quietly ignored. And any thought of higher level eco-system services such as production and habitat services to the river are shrugged off. Given two hundred acres to play with, enough to hide the site, but not contain odors, the county deciders feel that they have been good environmental stewards.
The historic memory of Prince George’s County seems to be about 8 years, perhaps due to term limits, so thoughts of the last time the county tried to put the land to a similar disastrous use, has failed to capture the County Council’s imagination. In the 1980’s, the great decision makers placed a sludge processing site in the middle of a geological bowl prone to air inversions, and then found that no one could open windows in the County seat. Now the County politicians calmly state that the new trash will have no odors because the trash will be inside a state of the art building with odor control. Of course we in Upper Marlboro can hardily wait for this technology to be installed on each freight car that passes through the town of Upper Marlboro on their way to wherever trash goes.
No thought is given to the on going sector plan which is reviewing and updating land use in the area. Citizens who have participated in the enhancement of the community’s life through development were not told that the center piece of new development would be industrial use in and environmentally fragile area. No opportunity has been given to allow the citizens to rethink their desire to enhance the local ecology and to protect it. If the citizens of the area had known that a waste transfer station was the center piece perhaps the majority could have begun the process of joining in and rezoning their land for similar uses, and then leave the area and the county to its own devices.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].