National Geographic : 1976 Jul
trusts are said to have soured across the na tion, with some of America's biggest banks left holding the bag. Down at Key West, at the southeastern ex tremity of our land, I watch the orange sun drop into the deep-blue sea. "If the money hadn't dried up, they would have built the hell out of the keys," says a planning and zoning official of Monroe County. "Now it's a whole new ball game." Monroe County just adopted strict ordi nances to control development, protect man groves, proscribe honky-tonks. "Our people are split about it, but we'll live with it." How did it come about? Federal and state pressure, he says; a new Florida law desig nated the keys an area of critical concern. But primarily it was local pressure-all those retired people. They go to meetings and form associations. Elected commissioners listen. Now it's early December. I've parked the motor home and flown to the Olympic Pen insula, in Washington State-northwestern corner of the contiguous 48 states. A local paper says 139.4 inches of rain fell here since the start of the year. On rocky Cape Flattery, overlooking the Pacific and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I see caves carved by the foamy ocean. A foghorn booms, a gull lands near me. En route back to Seattle I lose my way and stumble into a mind-boggling scene. A slope where once a forest stood lies flattened like some surrealist battlefield. From a seemingly endless expanse all trees are gone; left in the mist is a sea of stumps. The timber industry calls this "even-aged management"; it means cutting all the trees in a given area. The industry claims it is the most economical way to harvest trees nowa days; that it's good for tree-growing too, especially for Douglas firs. All day I've seen trucks with logs barreling down to Port An geles, to sawmills or to ships headed for Japan. Environmentalists call it clear-cutting and say it's disastrous, a cause of erosion and silt ing of streams. This smoldering controversy From nowhere to nowhere, an unfinished interchange in San Jose, California, stands witness to an era of soaring costs and tightening tax revenues. Elsewhere, citizen opposition has slowed or halted encroaching highways. This Land of Ours-How Are We Using It?