A little birdie delivered to Static what is commonly known as a hot tip. Seems several majestic trees recently disappeared from the Cowtown Coliseum’s front lawn in the Stockyards. The beautiful trees were surreptitiously removed, and the little birdie was sad and angry.
Expose the culprits, the birdie chirped, and find out if they did it with city approval! Static consulted its vivid imagination and solved the mystery: Seems a psychotic beaver stumbled out of the White Elephant Saloon after a night of hard drinking, chewed through the trees, and tried to build a dam across Exchange Avenue.
A pesky editor suggested that journalistic accuracy and integrity might prompt Static to call the Cowtown Coliseum and confirm the mad beaver theory. A Coliseum spokeswoman blamed the recent record-setting snowstorm for knocking down a magnificent pecan tree and severely damaging four Bradford pear trees. The pecan tree took out a portion of fence when it collapsed and wound up lying across Rodeo Plaza.
“We were so lucky it missed the brand new arbor and the new lights,” said DeeDee Barker Wix, sales director at Stockyards Championship Rodeo.
A city crew removed the pecan tree and a small stand of Bradford pear trees that were still standing after the storm but had taken such a beating they were deemed safety hazards. “We have so many people who walk through here all the time, we could not take the risk,” Wix said.
In other words, little birdie, Wix and city officials are conspiring to protect a mad beaver.
Organized Dissent Brewing
Opposition to natural gas drilling started slowly, with only a few voices whispering into the wind after drilling companies stampeded into North Texas about five or six years ago. Promises of bonus payments and royalties made believers out of many residents, but a smattering of their doubtful neighbors said, “This can’t be good for the air, water, ground, and infrastructure.”
Out in Parker County, a stay-at-home mom enjoying the country life began worrying about her community’s water wells. Kathy Chruscielski created Parker Area Residents Committed to Halting Excessive Drilling (PARCHED), a group of people fighting against water shortages and pollution. Farther north in Wise County, Sharon Wilson waged a similar war against drillers. She created Bluedaze, an online newsletter that tracks the many problems that property owners endure when drilling occurs nearby. Written and spoken threats haven’t dissuaded her in subsequent years from keeping the heat on drillers. In Fort Worth, Don Young founded Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Ordinance (FWCanDo) and rallied small groups of people to speak up at meetings with city officials and drillers.
It took a while, but all those people and many others have organized and come up with a unified plan to resist the energy industry and its powerful network of enablers at City Hall. Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, a new watchdog for the drilling industry, has launched a “best practices” platform to let industry leaders know what is expected of them. Drill Right Texas, as the platform is called, instructs the drilling industry on how to respect private property rights and maintain clean water, air, wildlife, and public health.
“I’m a fourth-generation Texan who hoped to get rich selling gas leases,” Wilson said. “After witnessing firsthand the devastation wrought by current drilling practices. I know that unless Drill Right recommendations are followed, Texans and future Texans will be a whole lot poorer.”