Sabal Trail Pipeline, Suwannee River Park, FL – Photo by Joy Lau
Feb 25, 2017
As I write this, the last protest camp at the North Dakota Access Pipeline is being demolished, militarized police are pointing weapons at unarmed water protectors and arresting Standing Rock Sioux tribe protestors.
The picture above was taken today during a serene hike at the Suwannee River Park in Florida, where protesters have already begun to fight the construction of the Sabal Trail Pipeline. The activists, like those at Standing Rock, fear, with reason, that an oil leak will wreak havoc on the delicate ecosystem. In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the pipeline – which will run from Alabama, through south west Georgia, to Orange County, Florida – be rerouted away from the Florida aquifer where local geography is made up of limestone and prone to sinkholes. The planned pipeline trespasses multiple endangered species habitats including crocodiles, manatees and sea turtles. Yet, despite the EPA’s recommendations, the route was approved.
The heavy weight of this fact was on our minds as we started our walk along the trail, but slowly, with each step, we started to get our bounce back. Under Spanish moss covered branches I watched an older man in a kayak glide along the still river. I admired twigs and leaves swing dancing in the center of a bubbling spring, and gazed in awe at a field of wild white orchids, as I’ve only ever seen them sequestered in pots or vases. Hundreds of yellow butterflies socialized and flittered from one flower to another, seemingly blasé while I was utterly mesmerized.
Towards the end of the hike I happened on this sign declaring the entitled pipeline intruder, and I was jolted back into the realization of the goliath this little paradise was up against – large corporations and their enablers who care little for the environment, little for the future of this country, and only for their own short term gains.
I sighed, carrying again the ten ton weight.
A pair of pale yellow butterflies fluttered pass, reminding me that the river is much older than our memory, that the trees have a knowledge we have just begun to learn, and that even if our world is messed up for now or for a long time, nature will be reborn – with or without humans.