Oct 14, 2014

The Politics Of Wehr's Dam

Taking on the influence of the Wildlands Conservancy is no easy task. Their sponsors and donors are a who's who of Lehigh Valley, but that doesn't make them correct on every issue and endeavor. Although they may be a sacred cow, there are other things precious in this valley, such as our parks. Allentown's two recent park directors were from out of town, with no knowledge or feel for local history or tradition. The first one was given an award for his cooperation with the Conservancy. The second one, although he only stayed for about a year, is quoted on their website. That gentleman endorsed the demolition of the Parkway's Robin Hood Dam, after being in town for only several weeks. In Allentown, many local residents are upset about the riparian buffers in the parks, a Wildlands Project. These buffers block both view and access to the creeks, but because the storm runoff is piped directly into the streams, they serve no purpose. Just as the science of buffers isn't site specific to Allentown parks, their rationale for dam removals have also been generalized. This generalization was very blatant in regard to the Robin Hood Dam, which was only 14 inches high. Combine a sacred cow, with generalizations and a brand new from out of town park director, and you lose an historical structure of beauty forever.

Beauty and history is what Wehr's Dam in Covered Bridge Park is about. Last June, Wildlands told the South Whitehall Commissioners that the dam was neither aesthetic or historical. That distortion of fact has now awakened over 5,000 people, who beg to differ with the Conservancy. I personally don't believe that their conservation projects are appropriate to our parks. There are millions of acres of stream front in the state to conserve. I believe that the public, and especially children, are entitled to the stream side experience that differentiates parks from wildlands. The children are also entitled to the history of their parks, if it is a WPA dam from 1941, or a mill dam from 1904.

photograph by Gregg Obst

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wildlands doesn't talk about their attempts to demolish the Chain Dam in Easton.

Why? They couldn't have received a more resounding NO. Not only did Easton want to keep their dam, they had significant questions about the science and methods in the Wildlands work.

Don't simply assume it's a quality report because it's prepared by an engineering firm.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there's a big ole pot of free money involved with their projects. They could care less about the parks imo.

Dreaming of Justice said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the anonymous poster..It ALL about the money..there is no "genuine" concern for nature..fish..water quality..because it has been borne out already that destroying dams indiscriminately does not necessarily improve any of the three. In fact damage has occurred at other sites of WC activities, including the Fogelsville Dam. The Fish Hatchery debacle was a disgrace that will never be ameliorated; every time there is a hard rain, we can now expect to lose fish by the thousands. Doesnt sound the the ole "better for fish" theory worked out too well, does it?