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Get the City Out of Our Parks!

by Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

May 30, 1998

The Editor

Re: Get the De Young Museum Out of Golden Gate Park! (Vote No On Measure A)

The words "car" and "park" should not be used in the same sentence. Have we already forgotten why we have parks? They were created to protect a piece of the natural world ("as God made it"), and the wildlife who live there, for their sake as well as for us to enjoy and be inspired. They are supposed to provide respite from the noise, pollution, machinery, and plethora of people that we find in the city. Why fill the park with the very things that we are trying to escape?

In that two-way relationship, the first way has become lost. Parks have become simply places for pleasuring humans. The wildlife, whose homes we stole to create the city, if mentioned at all, are merely paid lip service. Don't forget that as well as being great habitat for people, it was once, and still is, important habitat for wildlife.

Where is the San Francisco Garter Snake supposed to live? BART is destroying its most important habitat, on the way to the airport. Where are all the other species that once lived in San Francisco, some of them endemic, supposed to go? A portion of the park should be set aside for the reintroduction, and exclusive use, of San Francisco's endangered wildlife.

All human artifacts (and most nonnative species), especially those that are already available in abundance elsewhere in the city, should be removed from the park. The De Young Museum should be placed near a BART station, so that the almost no one will need to drive there, and so that the parking garage won't even be necessary. The money that would have been used to build the garage can be used to build a great museum.

Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, predicted that we would "love wilderness to death". Don't forget that getting close to nature also destroys nature. Let's try to prove the pessimists wrong, and put the art museum where it belongs.


Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

http://www.imaja.com/site/environment/mvarticles/ mjvande@pacbell.net

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