David Cloutier published commentary on ecology and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in Commonweal.
I live in a large apartment building perched on the edge of what is surely the most obscure treasure in Washington, D.C.—Rock Creek Park. I had never heard of it before I moved here, but it didn’t take me long to realize that a trail at the end of my block led into miles and miles of forest, right in the middle of a city. As a native Chicagoan, I had no idea that a city “park” could be like this. Thanks to Rock Creek Park, I’ve not only encountered plenty of deer grazing peacefully on my apartment building’s front lawn, but I also get to wake up every morning to the sound of birds chirping away.
It turns out I may have Rachel Carson to thank. In a lecture included in this new Library of America edition of her work, Carson notes that among the “destructions of beauty” being planned is that of “a small but beautiful woodland area—Rock Creek Park.” There was at the time a proposal “to run a six-lane arterial highway through the heart of that narrow woodland valley.” Sadly, some of the Maryland portion of Rock Creek Park was sacrificed for the Capital Beltway, but the D.C. portion remained unbuilt, leaving only the original winding tourist roads (much to the chagrin of locals who still try to use those roads to commute).
Continue reading in Commonweal.