Skip to main content

Progress = Cinnabons!

Western North Dakota, just north of the small town (pop. about 1,750) of Watford City. All of those square or rectangular pale patches are fracking pads. The boom is on in the Roughrider State (so nicknamed to help promote tourism), and has been for the last eight years. In spite of ranking 48th among the states in overall population, North Dakota boasts the nation's best economy, and lowest unemployment rate. Want to rent a four bedroom modular home in Watford City? Be prepared to shell out up to $4,000.00 - a month! The high times are here.

This growth has come with a steep price. The New York Times has published a series of articles detailing the woes of the Bakken Shale boom; you can (and should!) read them RIGHT HERE. Thousands of wells pepper western North Dakota's landscape, and in addition to an oil and gas bonanza, they've brought lots of problems. Pollution, corruption, cronyism, catastrophic accidents, habitat destruction, and spills - lots of spills. An estimated 18 million gallons of toxic sludge has spewed into unwanted places in the last eight years.

Reporters Deborah Sontag and Robert Gebeloff seem to have done a thorough job digging the Bakken dirt, and drilling down into the seamy substrate of this shale boom. A veil of secrecy masks much of the information related to drilling, but they did unearth lots of facts, and got some tasty interviews with various officials.

One of their interviewees was Ron Ness, the president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. Ness states that "...there wasn't a damn thing..." in pre-boom Watford City and vicinity. He goes on to regale the reporters with the benefits of the fracking boom: "We've got the largest-producing Cinnabon anywhere in the world".

Well. Who can argue with that for progress, and a surefire sign of economic growth. Cinnabon, that sugary fat-laden elixir of the turnpike plazas, whose staple Cinnabon Classic packs a whopping 880 calories and 36 grams of fat.

The prairie pothole region, North America's duck factory and an Eden of biological diversity. North Dakota is full of pothole wetlands and vast expanses of prairie, all cranking out birds galore. The annual North Dakota Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival bears evidence of the extreme birdiness of this state. CLICK HERE for their website and a list of the spectacular bird diversity.

But stippling the prairies with well pads is progress, apparently. And progress can be measured by Cinnabon sales.


Donald Comis said…
Very sad--worse than I thought. But I did feel that if we got into the fracking boom we would dearly regret it--just the latest example of a reckless disregard for everything when promoters come to town with a scheme that will leave them rich and a destroyed town in their wake--only here it's all of North America and the world threatened by environmental destruction in the pothole region, habitat for birds that travel across the continent.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…