Boundaries: A Casebook in Environmental Ethics

By Christine E. Gudorf; James E. Huchingson | Go to book overview

eleven
Rewilding

Restoration of Degraded Ecosystems

“BUT PROFESSOR WU, my father says that the restoration of the parcel will be beautiful, like a golf course, and his company will pay for it,” Jenny exclaimed, without even raising her hand to be recognized by her biology teacher.

“Yes, yes,” said Richard Wu. “I know what the Carson Corporation is proposing to do to make the prairie pretty once they've finished extracting the ore. For a moment, however, consider the project from the point of view of a budding ecologist: Is that what we want as the fate of a pristine and original grassland ecosystem?”

Richard—known as Rick to most of the citizens of Bentonville, a small college town in the middle of the northern Great Plains—was a popular young biology professor on the state university extension campus. Since joining the faculty four years earlier, all he had wanted to do was to teach. His popularity and expertise, however, had pushed him to the center of a controversy he would rather have avoided. Jenny's father, a senior corporate vice-president for an international mining company, was on the other side.

“But think about it, Mr. Wu,” Jenny persisted. “The company owns the mineral rights to all that land outside of town, including the Omaha parcel. They've been mining in this part of the state for two generations. That's why Bentonville prospers so much. Until now nobody has complained.”

“Your logic probably would earn you an A if this were a class in corporate public relations,” Rick responded, “but we're studying environmental

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