Win and Lose

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN


This is a cautionary and illuminating tale of pitfalls and promise in two prominently Armenian parts of the planet. The King-Gillette Ranch, north of the of the Santa Monica Bay and south of the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area, most recently owned by Soka University, is now public parkland. I had the privilege of participating in a meeting there on July 9. People are the beneficiaries– occasionally good guys do win, after decades of efforts. .
The existing structures will serve national and state parks agencies at more reasonable rents. We all benefit. Go see the gorgeous buildings and land. Enter at the intersection of Las Virgenes and Mulholland– the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. There are still a lot of privately owned parcels nearby. Some are threatened with development Millions have been spent, and more will have to be spent until these treasures are preserved for posterity.
Fortunately, there’s a willingness to do the right thing among some people and government. It’s taken time and will take more but we’re on the right track. The agencies involved in these good works are the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, National Park Service, and State Parks. Armenia’s in the area benefit too.
There is an imbedded and growing awareness of the value to society of unspoiled, untrammeled public lands. Thoreau said, “In wilderness is the salvation of civilization”. This is true.
How sad then that in Armenia, the opposite is happening. Not only are the money-addled rich making life difficult for people, but, they’re now despoiling the small remaining areas of virgin forest, all in the name of the almighty tram.
Teghut is threatened. Sounds like some funky Armenian medicine, right? You might call it that based on Thoreau’s comment. It is a pristine forest area in northern Armenia. Apparently, Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection thinks copper and molybdenum mining are more important than preserving the measly remaining eight percent forest cover in the country.
This is a convergence of the worst possible set of activities and results. It is a strip mining operation. The toxic tailings (mining waste) will be dumped in a heap in a virgin gorge nearby. The mining company has a questionable environmental/health history. Tourist and outdoor recreation opportunities will be reduced. The almost immeasurable benefits forests provide human’society will be degraded and reduced. The U.S. authorities proposed damming the Grand Canyon in the 1960’s. One ridiculous argument claimed it would allow people to see it close up. Thanks to the efforts of the Sierra Club, and a famous ad comparing the proposal to flooding the Sistine Chapel for better views of its ceiling, the idiotic proposal went the way of the dodo.
Let’s quickly euthanize this poorly conceived project. Let’s also develop ecotourism in the area so locals will have a stake, a vested interest in preserving and perhaps enlarging this treasure.
Act. Go to http://www.armeniatree.org/alert_teghut.htm. Join this worldwide effort.

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