Spending pipeline money

Dayton Wet Prairie in August

Dayton Wet Prairie in August

A broadband tower? My husband perked up when I told him that was on the list of possible projects the township was considering funding with the Enbridge pipeline guilt money.

The Enbridge money is a $15,000 grant to the township offered by the company that is plowing through our farms and gardens to update the pipeline that takes Alberta tarsand gook to the east coast and beyond. (Why does the pipeline dip down to the US side of the Great Lakes? Because the Canadians don’t want it.)

The only guideline for spending this tiny grant was that it was supposed to be for “environmental stewardship.” I didn’t see how broadband fit into that but, although I’d gotten myself on the committee to decide how the money should be spent, I hadn’t come up with any real ideas before the committee had its first meeting last evening. I thought I might even support a broadband tower if it came down to that. Better than cemetery improvement, which was another proposal.

I’d tried to get a local conservation group to bring ideas to the table. The group maintains a lovely wet blooming prairie on a dirt road a mile from our house. Wet blooming prairies are relatively rare. And fragile. You don’t want people tramping through, but I love walking the road and seeing the prairie at various times of the year. Now it’s moving into its loveliest stage of gold and purple and white blooms.


Swamp milkweed in the wet prairie

But the conservation people hadn’t followed up on my phone call and email. So I just brought up the prairie at the meeting, saying it was a rare treasure right here in the middle of our rural township that very few people even knew about. The township supervisor said he’d never been by to look at it. But everybody was interested.

The brainstorming session ranged through a welcome sign for Bertrand Township, a new heat-exchange system for the township building, redbud trees along Redbud Trail, a new memorial for the fire station. The idea of a broadband tower was dismissed–not “environmental” enough, even though another township had used their grant for that. Sorry, Vic.

The idea of doing something with/for the wet prairie quickly rose to the top and stayed there. This rural township is politically and socially conservative. I was surprised that my fellow committee members–the Republican township supervisor, his assistant, a financial consultant, and a firefighter–were so enthusiastic about doing something truly “environmental” with the money. I promised to keep pursuing the conservation group for ideas about how we could team up.

The group doesn’t do much in our area–their work is mostly closer to Lake Michigan, where Chicago people have summer homes. I notice from the website that the three staff members all left high-powered jobs in Chicago to move to the tranquil dunes and woods of Southwest Michigan. I guess I should include myself in that category. We ex-Chicago people are not always beloved by the “locals.”

So when I spoke with the group’s outreach director this morning I emphasized how important it was to build good relations with the community and how nice it was to see some “local” enthusiasm for environmental preservation. She agreed. We talked about possibilities. She’ll get back to me.


2 thoughts on “Spending pipeline money

  1. Pingback: The pipeline and the prairie | the practical mystic

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