Smart weeds and dumb rednecks

Took a two-day break from blogging this weekend and headed to camp in Pennsylvania to meet my hunting pal of the past 20 years. yuenglkng.jpgWe did a little game scouting and hung the treestands in anticipation of the muzzleloader season. Since guns weren’t part of this trip, we also drank our share of fine Pennsylvania lager. It ‘s all part of the “camp” experience, and very much a guy thing.

I’ve been hunting the same 300-400 acres in Southwest Pa. for 30 years now. And every trip there I come across a species of flora or fauna that I haven’t encountered or at least haven’t noticed before. This weekend I discovered two.

dscn0502.jpgThe first was Pennsylvania smartweed, a summer annual and member of the barley family that grows all over eastern North America.

The other species I encountered isn’t listed with the biologists, so I’ve named it keystonus redneckus, aka, ignorant hillbilly.

Now, before you accuse me of stereotyping, know that I grew up in Appalachian Pennsylvania, and I know my share of good ole boys. Some of them remain my friends and some share the woods with me in deer season — all armed with high-powered rifles. I know them and I trust them.

The folks I’m speaking of are a different breed. Their property is adjdscn0476.jpgacent to our hunting preserve, and thanks to their ignorant and pointless clear-cutting, their acreage looks like an a-bomb site. What the result will be in terms of erosion and stream washout is anyone’s guess. We’ll find out, as our property is downstream. (That’s me amidst the devastation. Sorry for the photo quality. It was near dusk.)

I believe in private property rights. But when you clear-cut in a rainy, hilly area, it affects your neighbors sometimes for miles around. And while the law regulates how close you can approach streams and steep ravines with chainsaws, enforcement is lax. Eventually the land will reforest, but instead of regenerating in 25 or 30 years as it does with selective timbering, BillyBob (or rather his grandkids) will be waiting 60 or 70 years.

I’m no forestry expert, but I know that selective cutting is good land management, just as responsible hunting is good wildlife management. Selective cutting of the large timber (12-inches or larger) opens the forest floor to sunshine. Sunshine spawns ground cover that in turn creates habitat for all sorts of critters. It’s a beautiful thing when everyone does their part and when no one gets greedy.

If there’s a lesson in this for public relations professionals (and I always try to find one), it lies in our responsibility to caution our clients about taking too much of the pie. To be successful, you needn’t squeeze every ounce of return from your assets. You don’t need to clear-cut the forest. Most of the time it pays to leave some for next month, next year, or even the next generation.

The tendency of American business to think short-term makes them a lot like BillyBob. But management does it because they’re greedy. BillyBob does it because he doesn’t know any better. How else to you explain the big trash dump at the head of his ravine?

Greed and ignorance can often produce the same result. I can almost forgive BillyBob, because he’s such a moron. But when the folks in corporate America treat the environment in the same way, it’s calculated greed. And that we can never forgive.

One Response to Smart weeds and dumb rednecks

  1. Greg Blase says:

    First let me say Bill Sledzik is a friend and colleague of mine and we’ve worked together for 14 years. i have a lot of respect for him. But over the years we’ve had lively discussions about his love of hunting (or as I like to half kiddingly say, murdering Bambi.)

    So i discovered some interesting issues with some of his comments in this blog – after all that’s what blogs are for.

    Bill refers to “ignorant and pointless clearcutting” of the land. Now I’m all for natural beauty and I couldn’t agree with him more. So I decided to go out and interview some of the deer on the land to get their opinion of the clearcutting. Most of them agreed the cleacutting was wrong but all of them said, and I quote, “You want to talk about ignorant and pointless- how about when Mr. Sledzik kills one of us. He has a big gun and we have no defense other than hiding, which is obviously why we’re opposed to clearcutting.”

    I think the deer make a pretty good point. Bill then goes on to say “responsible hunting is good widlife management.” I decided to ask the deer about this coment too. They can’t read his blog because none of them can afford a computer and, as one of them pointed out, if they did have a computer it might reflect sunlight and make them an easier target. Imagine some deer emailing his friend in Ohio and all of a sudden getting his head blown off.

    The deer got pretty angry when I told them Bill’s comment about “responsible hunting and good wildlife mangement”. First they said where does Mr. Sledzik get off deciding he’s responsible for their management. Seems like a good point.

    Second, the deer pointed out that the only other people in the world who used killing as “good management” are evil dictators. Seems l;ike a better point. They also pointed out that when people rise up against these dictators they are usually well-armed. The deer suggested they be given weapons training so at least it’s a fair fight.

    The deer ended the interview by saying the real PR lesson here is don’t shoot your constituents, or any other beings for that matter. There’s lots of other things to eat than venison.

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