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February 25, 2014

Flood insurance

Insurance is meant to spread risk. This does not mean subsidizing stupid behaviors. A risk easily foreseen should be avoided. Some places flood with monotonous regularity. If you choose to build a house there, you should be prepared to suffer losses. If that means that people don’t build on floodplains or barrier islands, it is better for both our economic and our ecological future.

Our Congress wants to reinstate subsidies of flood insurance that they only recently voted to end. It is a mistake.

We should not subsidize stupid behavior. I know it is very hard not to have sympathy for our fellow citizens whose dreams lie in ruins, houses and businesses clogged with muddy water and it is likely to get worse with changes in climate. We should not leave our fellow citizens in dire straights, but we should perhaps help them move if their previous abodes are no longer well suited to habitation. It is not generous to enable people to stay in places where they will be serial victims to foreseeable vicissitudes of nature. Help a man rebuild his home on a floodplain and you are condemning him to misery and grief again and again. How can we be so cruel?

There is a story about a preacher in a town that was flooding. The water reached the roof of his church and along came a boat. "Get in," said the boatman "It is still raining and the flood is rising." No," replied the preacher "the Lord will take care of me." The water continues to rise. Comes another boat and then a third. Each time the preacher dismisses them, explaining that he has faith that the Lord will help him. Finally, there are no more boats and the water is rising. The preacher sees he will drown and calls to the Lord. "I trusted you," he cries "Why have you forsaken me?" To which the Lord replies, "I sent three boats. Why didn't you get into one of them?"

In our more modern time, maybe people have too much "faith" in government subsidized insurance. Maybe they should get in the figurative boat and move up the hill or away from the low estuaries.

February 02, 2014

Forest visit February 2014

Chrissy on the CP forest road 

Went down to the forest farms. This is not the prettiest time to visit.  In fact, it tends to be the ugliest time of the year.  Lots of the plants are dead or brown. The pine trees are a little anemic; they will become much more brilliant green in a few months.

Longleaf pine seedlingOn the plus side, you can see better, since leaves and growing plants are not there to obscure. I was happy to see my longleaf pines are still there and doing okay. A few have really started to grow, as you see in the picture.  Most are still in the "grass" stage.

They are building a big new natural gas fired generator near the Freeman place. They are going to expand the transmission lines and lay gas pipelines.  It won't affect my land directly, but I am not enthusiastic about any changes.  I like things to stay in forestry. But I recognize that development happens and it is probably a good thing for many people.  As I wrote in a earlier post, this part of Virginia is poor.  My forests create few jobs.  The gas generator will do better.

The top picture shows Chrissy on the CP forest road.  me in new forestTrees are getting bigger.  Notice on the side of the road are sycamore trees.  They grew by themselves, but I cut out the brush and thinned them into a nice colonnade. They are growing very rapidly.  I am mildly allergic to sycamore. When I do a lot of cutting, I have to cough a lot.

The middle picture shows one of the longleaf pine seedlings.  I doubt I will ever see this forest mature, but it will be magnificent.  Longleaf used to be very common in the south.  The State of Virginia is working on restoration. My five acres of longleaf are a drop in the bucket, but better than nothing.  Below is me in the new forest.  I think we will cut that this year or next and plant some genetically strong trees that will grow even faster and better. 

The State of Virginia is now also advocating shortleaf pine restoration. I don't know much about them, but I will see what I can find out. I want to have more diversity in my forests in order to make them more robust and useful for wildlife.  I have to admit, however, that I really cannot identify a shortleaf pine.  I may have some and not know it.  I think they can hybridize with loblolly.