Donna Matrazzo’s Wild Things: Adventures of a Grassroots Environmentalist shows how a small group of committed advocates can protect a valuable natural area for future generations.
Sauvie Island, 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland, Oregon, was threatened by a developer’s plans to build a tournament level golf course on farmland. Sauvie Island is accessed by a sole bridge and the prospect of golf tournament traffic and other threats to the island’s’ wildlife inspired community members to band together and Just Say No.
It is hard to find undisturbed wildlife close to big cities (Portland has more than a half million people), so Sauvie Island is a rare treat. The Sauvie Island website says:
As you cross the bridge a serene vista of fields, trees and a wide expanse of the Cascade Range spread out in front of you. If the day is clear, you’ll be able to spot five mountains which bejewel the Range; visible from north to south, they are Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson… Nearly 12,000 acres of the island have been preserved as the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area… a premier hiking, biking, bird-watching, hunting and fishing location.
Prospective buyers eventually backed away from the golf course project because they feared too much opposition. In the process, the Sauvie Island Conservancy grew stronger.
The efforts to preserve Sauvie Island are very similar to what ELAW partners from Dhaka, to Kathmandu, to Budapest are doing to make metropolitan areas more green and livable. Wild Things includes lessons that can be spread around the world – and is an enjoyable read.