January 8, 2001

Mulholland Ridge Committee

Attn: Tom Smith, Chair

32 Corte Mateo

Moraga, CA 94556

Re: Mulholland Ridge


I understand that you are considering developing Mullholland Ridge into a park. I don't live in Moraga, but I still care what happens there. We humans think that we can "own" land, but how can we "own" living organisms that have minds of their own?

Most of what we like in this world, we owe to wildlife (i.e., non-human, non-domesticated species). They provide us clean water, clean air, oxygen, the source of most of our food and medicines, and beautiful places to look at and recreate in. It is really wildlife that make a park a park. Remove all living things, and what is left? Something like a quarry! Have you ever visited one? Did you have fun?

But wildlife have certain needs, and if those needs aren't met, they either leave, or die. The most important need is for a place to life, usually one where they are no people. There are a few species that like having us around (mosquitoes, perhaps), but most don't. Therefore, the most enjoyable parks are those that are least impacted by the presence of people. As Congress declared in the Wilderness Act, "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain". In other words, you have a very simple choice: either to love nature, or to love it to death!

Mulholland Ridge doesn't need picnic tables, parking lots, bathrooms, mountain bikes, dogs, horses, more trails, or other such human artifacts that are readily available elsewhere. It just needs to be loved and appreciated for what it is: a precious bit of wild nature that we humans cannot improve on! Let's be humble enough to recognize that. Please put the "development" somewhere else. The wildlife will thank you, the people who love nature will thank you, and I will thank you.


Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

P.S. In particular, I understand that the area called the "Black Forest" is especially important for the wildlife, and should not be touched.


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