To the citizens of Moab, this letter addresses something that you see every day, yet grows worse every week, but no one takes any action to change its outcome.
For the past 40 years, as a teacher, I pedaled my bicycle in Moab. I bicycled the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico through Moab. I’ve seen extraordinary beauty in Moab and all along with the wondrous formations of Arches National Park. I’ve read Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire three times. I appreciate the beauty he described. Unfortunately, the gifts Mother Nature bestowed on Moab face accelerating destruction via endless construction.
As I traveled up U.S. Route 191 from the south this spring, first I saw junkyards exploding along the highway. Junked automobiles lay like steel carcasses upon the pristine land. Tangled steel, junked construction debris and abandoned scrap await anyone entering Moab from the south. On the left, an abandoned trailer home with a flapping door greets visitors with trash all over the front of its edifice. In front of it, the foundation of an old framed house replete with a stark washer and refrigerator lying in the trash-strewn yard speak to the irresponsibility so inherent in citizens who don’t care how ugly, how careless and how irresponsible their actions.
Ah yes, “private property” remains the last excuse of ugly, pathetic people who take no responsibility for their actions.
Further on the left side of the highway, box homes juxtaposed to adobe houses with no coordination of style, color or texture of the surrounding mountains of Moab. The sights disgust, cause despair and show little or no concern for the quality of life in Moab. The trash depresses the eyes of anyone who cares about ecology and quality of the views. Money! Only money drives those who trash the beauty of Moab.
Who cares? Answer: mostly nobody. I did read about a group of Moab citizens who meet to pick up trash weekly. That’s a start.
What about a city council that passes ordinances to create a pristine landscape that everyone might enjoy and become proud to share: All construction sites must erect an opaque fence system to shield the public from their ugly junk piles. Or, simply clean up those junk piles. Pass an ordinance that forces owners to pick up their property or face the city picking it up with a tax lien on the property. All abandoned cars must be removed or face ticketing and removal. How about an ordinance to force all housing developments match buildings with the rocks and texture of the surrounding land?
Finally, why allow endless building of motels like the one being built in the middle of town that will increase traffic to intolerable levels? Once those builders finish the project, you, the citizens face increasing consequences to your environment, your quality of life and viability as an attractive city. The developers could care less. Why create water shortage issues and overload the carrying capacity of the area? Why lower the quality of life and standard of living in Moab? Why not create a “population stabilization policy” that ensures a viable and sustainable future for all citizens into the future?
As a six-continent world bicycle traveler, I’ve seen horrific consequences to exponential growth: It’s the same modus operandi as a cancer cell. It grows until it kills its host. You, the citizens of Moab, can stop it at this point. At some point, you will become its victims.