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Man Does Not Live by Hiking Alone

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Letter to the Editor- If you heard of a species of territorial animal that was showing early signs of failure to thrive in that they were not finding the sustenance and shelter they used to find in their shrinking habitat and their reproductive rate had dropped significantly, wouldn’t you be concerned?

Human beings are part of the Henderson County environment and, yes, their habitat is shrinking and they are having difficulty finding a local job. When the folks in the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy video that I watched recently said they were proud of “Doing something for the environment…” I didn’t get the impression they had given a great deal of thought to the overall wellbeing of their fellow human beings. They seemed to be entirely focused on preserving our beautiful mountains in a wild state. Bless them for the work they have done, but….

Man does not live by hiking alone; he also needs jobs and personal space. The American Dream is to have a private plot of land to call one’s own. Additionally, private property is the keystone of all the societies in which the majority of humans have thriven and the basis of a healthy economy.

In the video the word “development” was spit out like a curse, but without development humans do not thrive. Well-planned development provides not only the habitat for which most humans yearn, it provides endless jobs. Without jobs, or if the threatened species has to travel out of its county to forage, the species does not thrive. Even in Denmark, where they are happy to have given a great deal of their personal freedoms to the collective, maintains a thriving free market based on personal property, which is why it is not a failed state like other socialist countries where they don’t respect private property very much, Greece, for example.

Because personal property is so important to human vigor, I have a few concerns about turning over private property to the state.

Has anyone done a study of what % of land ought to be owned by the state?

Exactly when do benefits of greenways and government owned parks stop being “an asset in terms of future growth and development?” (Henderson County 2020 Comprehensive Plan) and start creating a shrinking habitat with a paucity of jobs? Where is the tipping point?

What % of land do you need to have in private hands to allow the growth and development of the human species in our environment?

Here in Henderson County we seem to be on a fast track to an extremely high percentage of Henderson County land in the hands of various governments. I do not think we have reached the tipping point but I think we ought to give some thought to where that point is located.

Most folks seem to think land conservancy is an unadulterated good for the community, but conservancy land in the United States has a tendency to end up in government hands – local, state and federal. So we need to make thoughtful decisions as to exactly how much land we want to conserve and how much we need to develop so that the human component of our environment may thrive.

Please keep in mind that we have all benefited from living in a country that is NOT feudal or communist where all the land is owned by the governors. Originally all land belonged to one king or another. Throughout history, as more and more property, real and financial, came into the hands of the people and the middle class grew, the standard of living increased for all. We don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by going backward and putting too much land into the hands of our rulers. We need to define the tipping point and stick to it.

When I was on the board of a condominium in Virginia I became aware of the data that showed that when more than 15% of condominium owners rented out their units the quality of life and the financial wellbeing of all the condominium owners went down. Folks who do not own their property do not tend to take as good care of it as those who do, it seems.

Nor is land as productive in providing jobs and habitat for humans when it is not privately owned. There is a balance point between saving our gorgeous, tourist attracting, health-producing forests and mountains and making the most productive use of private property. Zoning can be very useful in keeping folks from using their land in such a way as to harm their neighbors while allowing persons to use their land in the way that is most beneficial to the human species. Individuals, We the People, are more apt to make the best decisions as to how private property ought to be used than commissions or regional bureaucrats who do not actually own the land.

Pam Danz

Flat Rock

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