Paradise Lost

I am heartbroken.

There used to be an absolutely magical place a few miles away. There were the remains of an old homestead, with apple trees for the deer and monstrous maple trees.

There was an old man who used to sit in his car, under one of those maples. I would see him there several times a week in the summer and nod or wave when I saw him. I’d wondered if his family had once owned the place or if he just lived in a noisy household and wanted some peace.

There was a rather tricky two track, (the one where I found the stranded homeless man with a dead battery in his van) it led to a small open area near that lovely winding creek. Once you knew the location of hidden foundations and the deep mud holes left by ATV’s, you could do it in my car.

At the creek there was a bench just to sit in the quiet and a rock crossing made by that long ago farmer. The only sounds were the creek, the birds and in the fall, the sound of acorns falling from the oaks. Sometimes people camped there, again, I believe they were homeless. At times we would come down and find the campsite torn apart and abandoned. We could never understand why someone would just ruin the tent and leave what was left, strewn on the ground to rot.

Twice, we have found trash dumped behind the trees, much of it was food cans from whoever camped there. Some was debris from some moron who didn’t want to pay dump fees, so they left it in the woods. Once, we found brass where someone had been shooting into the hillside.

It was never a “teen party place” with broken liquor bottles and general garbage. It was usually pretty clean and the firepit well maintained to contain a fire safely.

It was the perfect place to take animals for release. There was water, abundant food, there was shelter and it was far enough from the road. It was a place that gave them time to adjust to living in the wild and on release days, I could stay with them as long as needed to give them the confidence to walk away.

I loved that place. It was a place of peace. A place of escape from the hectic pace of my life. a place of refuge for whomever found it.

It’s gone now.

Being state land, they decided to harvest the trees, even the old maple. Where will the old man sit now? They tore up the road with the big logging trucks, and I can no longer get to the two track. Even if I could, I couldn’t get to the quiet place. They felled a huge tree across the track. The only access to it now is by another two track, navigable only by big, noisy, ATV’s

It’s ugly now. I have no idea what it’s like down by the creek. It looks as if someone dropped a bomb and blew all the beauty away.

We had always assumed that this was state land and a quick internet search, confirmed the farm had gone to the state for back taxes decades ago. I imagine that was when the house, barn, milkhouse and silo were knocked down. BUT being state land, it should be accessible to the people who support it with their taxes.

We, as Michigan Citizens OWN that land, yet we are denied use of it. The old man used it. The homeless gentleman in his van used it, the camper used it, WE used it. I know for a fact that one of those people (besides us) are veterans and gave a good portion of their lives to protect land like this. Yet, now we are banned.

Only people with expensive recreational vehicles will have access. The very people who tear up the landscape with their tires can now do it without interruption.

I’d like to know why? Was it because someone dumped trash? I know several places where they dump their trash along seasonal roads and THEY are not blocked off. Was it because of the homeless camping there? They have just as much right as anyone else to camp on state land.

I understand the harvesting of lumber, the state does it all the time, I really don’t mind it, as it eventually creates new habitat. What I don’t understand is the total destruction of the area and the blocking of the road.

I’ve always respected the DNR. We have had a great relationship. I don’t right now. This was THEIR doing. The land would not be destroyed without their approval and planning. The road could not have been blocked, but by them. Now we pay taxes to support property we cannot use. We pay taxes to pay for the very people who deny us its use.

There is less magic in the world today and magic is increasingly hard to find. There are less safe places to release squirrels and possums and porcupines. There is less food for the deer in late winter. There is less for all of us.


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