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Our ill-treated forests

Having been asked repeatedly to write a column on the Kudzu vine, that large leafed vine that we see climbing along the banks of many of the Pulaski County roads, with its unimpressive violet-purple flowers, I offer the following.
Once upon a time in the land called America there grew great forests containing scores of different types of trees. There were hardwoods, needled trees, thorned trees, those used for medicine, those used for food, and even poison producing trees. There were evergreens, and trees that shed their leaves. I know these trees loved the earth, because of the way they thrived, and to show their appreciation, the trees gave up their leaves as nutrients to pay back for what they had taken to make them flourish.
Animals inhabited the rich earth, and used the trees for food, shelter, and medicine, and both animals and trees lived together in harmony, as did the feathered winged creatures that flew about, living off the trees, and helping to spread the trees seeds. Insects of every description flew and crawled through the forest. Some were destructive, but there was a law that became known as the “balance of nature” that was there to slap the hand of any creature that became a nuisance.
All seemed well in this world that seemed to lack nothing. All forms of life seemed to work and play together in perfect harmony. It seemed that each had been schooled on the part he, she, or it was to play in the utopian forest that lay between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
One day, perhaps to the dismay of the trees, and the birds, and of the animals, there came into the forest a strange creature that became known as the human being.
“How in the world, thought the creatures of the forest, could anything be as perfect as the harmony that we enjoy.” But as they reasoned, they became convinced that things would become even better, because these human beings have heads that are packed full of brains. Their creator, a person they call God has given them dominion over everything in the great forest. “Yes,” they thought, “man has come to save us from possible destruction.”
For a while, man was very careful to abide by the natural laws, and there was harmony in the forest. But soon there was to emerge from the human beings, a thing called greed. This was not entirely new to forest folk, because since the coming of man, animals had shown signs of it, and even the pesky vine that wrapped its choking hold around tree limbs was possessed with it. But with his superior brain, was able to use greed more destructively. It didn’t take him long to build bigger and sharper axes, and even saws to cut down the trees around him, and watched the large ones crashing down upon smaller ones.
While the trees, animals and insects, reptiles, and all of the “dumb” creatures of the forest looked on in dismay, man, the one with the brains, seemed intent on destroying the imbalance that was taking place, and enjoying it. With the passing of time, portions of the once green lush forest lay barren of trees or any other vegetation.
Rains came and great quantities of rich soil were torn loose from what was once the forest floor. Raw ditches were created, allowing more soil to move through them, and into streams that had once sparkled with clear water. Streams that bore Indian names to signify the clearness of their water, flowed muddy into waiting oceans, spreading pollution wherever they flowed.
After it was much too late, colleges and universities started to educate people to take better care of the part of the precious gift hat was left. Soil conservation came into being, and many professors and people trained by them experimented with various types of soil holding plants and structures to help to control erosion. They went all the way to the far east and found in Japan and China the running kudzu plant. Next week I will discuss that troublesome plant.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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Our ill-treated forests

Having been asked repeatedly to write a column on the Kudzu vine, that large leafed vine that we see climbing along the banks of many of the Pulaski County roads, with its unimpressive violet-purple flowers, I offer the following.
Once upon a time in the land called America there grew great forests containing scores of different types of trees. There were hardwoods, needled trees, thorned trees, those used for medicine, those used for food, and even poison producing trees. There were evergreens, and trees that shed their leaves. I know these trees loved the earth, because of the way they thrived, and to show their appreciation, the trees gave up their leaves as nutrients to pay back for what they had taken to make them flourish.
Animals inhabited the rich earth, and used the trees for food, shelter, and medicine, and both animals and trees lived together in harmony, as did the feathered winged creatures that flew about, living off the trees, and helping to spread the trees seeds. Insects of every description flew and crawled through the forest. Some were destructive, but there was a law that became known as the “balance of nature” that was there to slap the hand of any creature that became a nuisance.
All seemed well in this world that seemed to lack nothing. All forms of life seemed to work and play together in perfect harmony. It seemed that each had been schooled on the part he, she, or it was to play in the utopian forest that lay between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
One day, perhaps to the dismay of the trees, and the birds, and of the animals, there came into the forest a strange creature that became known as the human being.
“How in the world, thought the creatures of the forest, could anything be as perfect as the harmony that we enjoy.” But as they reasoned, they became convinced that things would become even better, because these human beings have heads that are packed full of brains. Their creator, a person they call God has given them dominion over everything in the great forest. “Yes,” they thought, “man has come to save us from possible destruction.”
For a while, man was very careful to abide by the natural laws, and there was harmony in the forest. But soon there was to emerge from the human beings, a thing called greed. This was not entirely new to forest folk, because since the coming of man, animals had shown signs of it, and even the pesky vine that wrapped its choking hold around tree limbs was possessed with it. But with his superior brain, was able to use greed more destructively. It didn’t take him long to build bigger and sharper axes, and even saws to cut down the trees around him, and watched the large ones crashing down upon smaller ones.
While the trees, animals and insects, reptiles, and all of the “dumb” creatures of the forest looked on in dismay, man, the one with the brains, seemed intent on destroying the imbalance that was taking place, and enjoying it. With the passing of time, portions of the once green lush forest lay barren of trees or any other vegetation.
Rains came and great quantities of rich soil were torn loose from what was once the forest floor. Raw ditches were created, allowing more soil to move through them, and into streams that had once sparkled with clear water. Streams that bore Indian names to signify the clearness of their water, flowed muddy into waiting oceans, spreading pollution wherever they flowed.
After it was much too late, colleges and universities started to educate people to take better care of the part of the precious gift hat was left. Soil conservation came into being, and many professors and people trained by them experimented with various types of soil holding plants and structures to help to control erosion. They went all the way to the far east and found in Japan and China the running kudzu plant. Next week I will discuss that troublesome plant.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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