, Newburyport, MA


June 27, 2013

Graduation speech goes to the heart of the matter

To the editor:

At the North Shore Community College graduation, commencement speaker Dr. John Nelson gave a wonderful speech and the concluding remarks made me think of the management of the conservation areas in Amesbury, especially Woodsom Farm.

For the last six years there has been concern in town over the early mowing practices at the farm and its impact on the meadow bird population and I want to report that the Audubon recommendations by Jeff Collins were followed last year. It seems that the recommendations can work for both the farmer and the birds. As with most compromises, the recommendations are not perfect for either the farmer or the birds, but both do benefit.

The Audubon recommendations are that four heavily nested zones of Woodsom Farm are to be reserved for the birds and not mowed until after July 8. There is also a fifth area not to be mowed so that surviving birds will have food and shelter. The mayor has guaranteed that the management plan will be followed again this year, and I want to thank him for this promise.

These are Nelson’s closing words. I hope you find these as inspiring as I have.

“… and I would ask something else of you. This is not advice but a hope and a plea: take care of this earth and all its creatures. The earth is our home, the only home we have. It’s in trouble, and we all have a duty to protect it. It’s easy to get caught up in all the impressive gadgets humans have invented— laptops, iPhones, games — but there’s nothing in this world so miraculous as the wonders of Nature: lordly mountains that have risen out of oceans, mighty rivers that have carved out Grand Canyons, magnificent trees that live for centuries, beautiful cats — tigers and leopards and cheetahs — faster and stronger than any human, and tiny birds — smaller than your hand — that migrate each spring for thousands of miles, from Argentina to Alaska, through rains and wild winds, over mountains, across the Gulf of Mexico, with astonishing endurance, and then, four months later, turn around and fly back. But these wonders can all be lost. Some have been lost already, never to return. In my travels I’ve seen those magnificent trees cut down — forests in Brazil the size of Massachusetts — I’ve seen rushing rivers drained and dammed to a trickle, I’ve seen birds disappear because people have ruined the only places where they can live. Now they need your help. We have one great flaw as a species: We’re greedy, wasteful. We squander the gifts of Nature. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is hope, if we have the will to change. For our own sakes but also for the sake of our children and their children and their children, that they might know these wonders too. “

Bernadette Lucas


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