The pipeline and the prairie


I followed the big digger being hauled down the country road that is the most direct route from the YMCA to our CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm. The combination of yoga and veggie pickup has made Tuesday morning the highlight of the week, but this was the last time I would be picking up vegetables. The truck was going 25 mph but I was in no hurry.

It was a symbolic end to the vegetable season. I was one of only 10 members in Farmer Theri’s CSA this year. Her season has been cut short and she couldn’t plant her back plots at all because they were marked to be dug up to lay the Enbridge replacement pipeline. The diggers have just now churned up her barnyard.

Last haul

Last haul

The digger was headed for another segment of the pipeline not far away. A dotted line of dirt piles marks the pipeline’s path across Michigan. Somehow I expected the tunneling to start in the west and proceed east, like the oil. Instead, the digging might start anywhere along the line and proceed in either direction. Here it moves mostly east to west but in a broken line. The dots will eventually be connected.

Meanwhile I work on my part of the story. I’m not doing anything heroic like getting arrested for sitting in a company driveway, like my friend Sandra Steingraber did to protest fracking in upstate New York. I am just trying to see that the small grant Enbridge is giving our township for “environmental restoration” gets used appropriately. This is in addition to direct compensation to landowners. It’s pure guilt money and not much: $15,000 for the long scar Enbridge is drawing across the belly of our rural township.


I wrote how the township committee responded enthusiastically to my proposal to do something for my favorite piece of wetland, the rare wet blooming prairie a mile from my house. I tossed that ball into the court of Chickaming Open Lands, the conservation group that manages the prairie. Yesterday the development director called back.

“We talked about it,” she said, “and what we’d like to propose is a boardwalk out into the prairie so people can see it better.”

That was exactly what the township committee had proposed, but I hadn’t mentioned that detail to the Chickaming people. I was elated. Maybe it would be easier than I thought to get a politically conservative township and a liberal conservation group on the same page.

I called the township supervisor and reported the conversation. He seemed pleased but he said, “I was just down at the firehouse. You know, everybody has a project they’d like to get funded.”

Of course. Conversations will go on although our ad hoc committee was supposed to make this decision.

Still, he promised to link up with the conservation group. We’ll see. I’m not taking bets on where this project will stand by the time I get back from Congo in mid-October. But I’m voting for the prairie.


2 thoughts on “The pipeline and the prairie

  1. Pingback: Home. Sick. | the practical mystic

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