It's a little over a week since it happened, and I've been feeling pretty morose ever since. It's not just the prairie dogs, it's also my birthday, and I'm not excited about getting older. Whitney gave me a wonderful birthday yesterday and today, but still it was hard to be happy; it feels like there's so many things wrong. Maybe it's past -- she really did a terrific job of cheering me up today, yet I still need to get it out. I keep wanting to email the city again, and even daydream about marching up to the city council to speak my peace, but if I'm honest with myself I know I won't do that. I'm long on thoughts and feelings but short on action. Emails seem to be about the extent of my activism when it comes to things that require more than just private action.
I think if I did say something at this point it would be more about the way that the city went about killing the prairie dogs rather than the fact that they did, since there's nothing that can be changed about that. What really makes me feel tired and old is the way they just slipped it in under the radar. I came home from work, and it was already too late. Forget creating a dialog on the subject, there wasn't even notice given, to me or anyone else of what they had planned. Of course I think that management decisions should be based more on science than mere opinion -- and their habitat assessment concluded that there shouldn't be prairie dogs in this area -- but the way they did this seems designed to side-step the controversy that prairie dogs are prone too. A lot of people would have agreed with the action, but there would also have been dissenters like me. The point is that we should have been allowed to say something, even if it didn't change the final outcome. I think I would feel better right now if I had at least said something on their behalf. Yet without a prompt from the city the only way I could have would have been through my own initiative. I've thought about it many times before, but never said anything, either because the danger didn't seem immediate or because I was too lazy or intimidated by authority. Maybe I would have found the courage if I knew the prairie dogs were to be poisoned in a month or a week. I don't know, and never will.
The fact that they didn't tell me shows that they don't consider a volunteer who's been doing backbreaking work on a property for six years to be a resource worth getting in touch with when they're planning a major management activity on that property; they fact that they didn't tell anyone seems to say that they don't care much what the community thinks either, and the sudden finality with which it happened is enough to make one feel helpless against the anonymous forces of powers that be, who make decisions and carry them out regardless of little people like me. It's disenfranchising and depressing, to say nothing of the act of killing all the prairie dogs itself.
I'm going to try again tomorrow to organize my thoughts in an email to the parks services manager, who last time responded with a defensive and condescending form letter about how Westminster is a leader in open space, with two sentences tacked on the end about Countryside Creek. "I realize these explanations may not satisfy your desire to protect prairie dogs at all cost," he said in identical emails to Whitney and myself, assuming us to be extremists. Who said anything about protecting prairie dogs at all costs? I just wanted to get a word in about the wildlife in the open space that I consider to be part of my home. The volunteer coordinator was very respectful to me and sincerely apologized for my sorrow -- she's cool and I expected she would -- but the rest of the city government doesn't get it, and doesn't seem to care enough to try.