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Living lightly in exurbia

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Regarding Allen Best’s provocative story on exurbia, I think he paints with too broad a brush (HCN, 6/13/05: How dense can we be?).

There are those of us living in paradise who try to do so with environmental consciousness, and who are not a drain on our county treasuries. My husband and I live on 40 acres of western New Mexico bordering the Cibola National Forest, in a passive solar adobe home we built ourselves. We store up to 6,000 gallons of rainwater.

Our community built and maintains 25 miles of gravel and dirt roads. Many of us are retired, and rarely drive to the city. On our land, we thin and trim trees by the hundreds to make our place more fire-resistant. We feed and provide water to birds to help them survive drought. We’ve learned wildland firefighting techniques and volunteer with a local brigade.

We create small check dams to help control erosion. We plant native flowers, shrubs and trees to improve habitat. We think we live much more lightly upon the land than the sheep, cattle and loggers who came before us. And we teach our grandchildren, when they visit, to respect and care for this fragile environment.

Caroly Jones and George Steigerwald
Ramah, New Mexico

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