Westward human development in the early part of the 19th and 20th centuries knew no bounds and was breathtaking in its advance upon the American landscape. Now well into the 21st century, the picture has changed dramatically with population growth unimagined by those before us and ever new ways of extracting gain from the seemingly unlimited earth. This demand is well known when it comes to the treasures of the Eastern Sierra.
The contentious battle over the last 10 years over “Portal Preserve” serves as a focal point for the pressures being put upon our beloved Eastern Sierra. Here the specific subject is land use and what compromises that phrase in terms of energy and technology, recreation, population growth, aesthetics, building for economic gain, and respect of native land.
While many have rethought the word “development” and taken to heart past lessons of wanton expansion, there is still an ever pressing demand to build upon the precious little wild that is left. Do we ask ourselves, “just because we can, does that mean we should?” Why is it that many of us live here? Visit here? Is there value in safeguarding this land and rejecting the precedence of another LA basin or central valley? Is this being done for the good of all or just the few? While this phrase may seem idealistic by some it is always a good place from which to start.
Now, today, upon the eastern escarpment of the sierra, one of the most singular iconic natural symbols of the American west is being marred by a so-called “preserve”. I, like many, have been coming to the eastern Sierra for years and primarily for the immense beauty of it all. It broke my heart to drive up Portal road the other week and see bulldozers in a “preserve” making way for homes on the doorstep of Mount Whitney. Many other homes and ranches in the area are nearly invisible in their non descript surroundings. Here however the sight of Portal Preserve will be garrish in its audacity.
Certainly in our capitalistic society it is the right of an individual to purchase land and build upon it- or no- as one wishes. But if one chooses to do so, then don’t be calling it a “preserve”.