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A ‘Rural Renewal’ Program Would Provide Habitat for Deer and other Wildlife

The tony collection of McMansion subdivisions known as Town & Country, MO is back on the issue of Deer overpopulation. It seems their 1-3 acre lots amongst the natural woods are overrun with deer. The reality is that our natural environment is overrun with low-density and often tacky housing that requires an SUV to go anywhere. From a KSDK report:

“Deer like the suburbs that we build,” said Erin Shank, a Missouri Department of Conservation urban wildlife biologist. “They like that broken forest interspersed with meadow-like lawns. That’s really ideal for them, so their populations have really grown over the last several decades.”

Wow, it seems they have managed to design an environment ideally suited to the main deer population but only a small segment of the human population. A number of years ago Town & Country engaged in a horrible plan to relocate the deer but many perished due to shock (see Grim Harvest). Some municipalities allow hunting using bows to avoid shooting some VP from shooting a lawyer friend in the face. Town & Country, however, does not yet permit hunting. Some are advocating traps where they are instantly killed via a bolt to the brain. Ick. Others say the deer are fine and simply plant other vegetation that deer don’t like, a logical solution in my view.

But I have some other ideas as well. We could start by banning vegetation all together. These people with their 4-bedroom/4-car garage houses on an acre of land like the illusion of country living but we know they really are not. So I say we prohibit them from growing any sort of plants outdoors — at least the ones known to attract deer. Hey, if they don’t like it they can always move much easier than the deer. I don’t think this is going far enough though. Those brick front houses look bad enough as it is but without vegetation it would be a horrible sight. The kids there already suffer from not being able to walk or bike anywhere so they really shouldn’t have to live without hostas and ferns.

I say we hire PGAV or Development Strategies to do a blighting study on the area. We argue that all of Town & Country and everything else in St. Louis County outside of the I-270 highway loop is Ecologically Obsolete. With places like Creve Coeur, Chesterfield and Dardenne Prairie all working on town centers to create walkable destinations we can justify that others are old fashioned and obsolete forms of development. New Urbanism represented by New Town at Charles or even old urbanism represented by original city development as well as the older ring of suburban development such as downtown Ferguson, Maplewood, Webster Groves and such is more ecologically sustainable.

So much like the maps of the 40s & 50s that justified razing entire sections of the city because a percentage of the structures lacked indoor plumbing, we can create maps of the region where the obsolete development pattern is too low to sustain a walk-to town center & transit. Everything below a certain threshold would be targeted. I call it Rural Renewal. St. Louis County would identify areas for land clearance, returning the land to nature with wildlife and vegetation taking over former manicured lawns. The deer population would once again be controlled with bobcats and other natural predators. Of course we’d need to use eminent domain to take all the homes, strip shopping centers and fast food joints. We’d need to clear thousands of acres at a time.

This could all be justified, of course, based economic development for the region. By returning an area to nature we’d force residents into existing areas, assuming we also limited fringe development. People living in an $800K house in Town and Country could do wonders with a $500 house owned by the LRA! Think of the economic benefits of such a renewal plan — one that could easily past muster after the Kelo decision on eminent domain. We’d see a surge in new construction within the I-270 highway loop giving new vitality to both the city and older areas of St. Louis County. Low density areas in the county, but within the I-270 loop, would be targeted for redevelopment to accommodate those displaced for the new rural areas. Rail transit (commuter, light rail) and quality localized service via bus and/or streetcar would be far more feasible than currently. We’d naturally eliminate some of the 91 municipalities in St. Louis County as well as excessive school districts, fire districts and so on. These new large ‘rural renewal’ areas would become wonderful natural areas again — attracting tourists to our area. This could become a model program for other regions to follow.

It would, of course, be difficult on those being displaced but they really shouldn’t stand in the way of progress and that which is beneficial to the larger region. The environment and the economy both outweigh their private land interests. We’ve been through large scale land clearance projects before and the suburbanites always seemed supportive of such efforts.


Currently there are "12 comments" on this Article:

  1. pete koenig says:

    A modest (and billiant) proposal indeed Mr. Swift.

  2. LisaS says:

    very Swiftian indeed. Oddly enough, the population density in North City–where tax credits are being given for land acquisition and redevelopment because it’s an unpopulated wasteland–is 2-3 times higher than Town & Country except for a couple of swatches. ( source: http://www.ewgateway.org/pdffiles/maplibrary/PopDensity2000_11x14.pdf)

  3. Dustin Bopp says:

    This post reminds me of how David Byrne and the gang hit it on the “head” back in 1988 with (Nothing But) Flowers.


    (Nothing But) Flowers Lyrics
    Artist(Band):Talking Heads

    Here we stand
    Like an Adam and an Eve
    The Garden of Eden
    Two fools in love
    So beautiful and strong
    The birds in the trees
    Are smiling upon them
    From the age of the dinosaurs
    Cars have run on gasoline
    Where, where have they gone?
    Now, it’s nothing but flowers

    There was a factory
    Now there are mountains and rivers
    you got it, you got it

    We caught a rattlesnake
    Now we got something for dinner
    we got it, we got it

    There was a shopping mall
    Now it’s all covered with flowers
    you’ve got it, you’ve got it

    If this is paradise
    I wish I had a lawnmower
    you’ve got it, you’ve got it

    Years ago
    I was an angry young man
    I’d pretend
    That I was a billboard
    Standing tall
    By the side of the road
    I fell in love
    With a beautiful highway
    This used to be real estate
    Now it’s only fields and trees
    Where, where is the town
    Now, it’s nothing but flowers
    The highways and cars
    Were sacrificed for agriculture
    I thought that we’d start over
    But I guess I was wrong

    Once there were parking lots
    Now it’s a peaceful oasis
    you got it, you got it

    This was a Pizza Hut
    Now it’s all covered with daisies
    you got it, you got it

    I miss the honky tonks,
    Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
    you got it, you got it

    And as things fell apart
    Nobody paid much attention
    you got it, you got it

    I dream of cherry pies,
    Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
    you got it, you got it

    We used to microwave
    Now we just eat nuts and berries
    you got it, you got it

    This was a discount store,
    Now it’s turned into a cornfield
    you got it, you got it

    Don’t leave me stranded here
    I can’t get used to this lifestyle

  4. cptmrpants says:

    The prospect of clear cutting suburbs makes me gitty.

    I hope my folks move out of the way when the ‘dozers come to their town.


  5. Given they don’t use streets, there would be rioting in the cul-de-sacs!

    [SLP, LOL.  “Oh dear Biff, whatever will we do?”  “Honey grab the folding chairs out of the back of the Expedition and let’s develop a plan with the neighbors.  Let’s meet in the cul de sac.”]

  6. dude says:

    KSDK, is that TV news? Do people still watch that? If they wanted country living, shouldn’t the deer be a natural part of that?

  7. LisaS says:

    even more archaic than TV: newpapers

    The PD story this morning, written by Stephanie Deere (I kid you not.): http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/1B033963201308B28625735900095160?OpenDocument
    and their blogger’s take on it: http://www.stltoday.com/blogs/news-talk-of-the-day/2007/09/your-solution-for-growing-suburban-deer-populations/all-comments/#comments
    I’m heartened that the very first comment is “Stop building houses in the woods.”

    [SLP — Please note that I don’t link to the P-D because they do not have permanent links — the top link above will disappear at some point so don’t come complaining to me about a broken link.  This is why I linked to KSDK.]

  8. MattHurst says:

    LOL. i’ll be sure to use this argument the next time someone asks me about the problems of city living.
    I grew up in rural Wildwood, and have watched the as Saint Louis County sold to devlopers. even after the city incorporated to stop that, only to see the demographics change so much because of new surburban emigrants come and start selling the land itself. Wildwood is the second largest city in Missouri in terms of land mass, at nearly 33 square miles. It taught me a thing or two about surburban development and the mindset of man’s dominion over nature.
    I can see it spreading like a cancer west of chesterfield, even past o’fallon, a ring of unsustainable development leaving behind a hallowed out outer-suburb ring. In the surburbs the mind set has become that if you have enough money that things should be come to you, not you going to places. When our family moved to what was the country before my hometown was known as Wildwood, we understood that we were trading in convience for the country space we wanted, deer and all. Suburbanites are not prepared to choose either or, but gas prices will make them.
    (sorry, kind of ranty, i know. it’s a constant source of frustration watching money being wasted on projects like progress pointe)

  9. GMichaud says:

    That’s a great idea to condemn Town and Country as an ecological nightmare. Boone’s Crossing is another area that needs “rural renewal”, the river flooded the whole area (with more than 10 feet of water) where all of the big box stores are now. Those savvy businessmen probably didn’t notice, they were busy chasing deer out of Town and Country with their SUV’s.

  10. Southside Tim says:

    i would be careful what you ask for. about 5 or so years ago i saw a deer in st l city. hard to believe right? it was along the north river bike trail down around one of the msd pumping stations. perhaps we should allow your prescription to be used in the city too.

  11. Maurice says:

    deer occasionally come up the river bank near bates and carond. as well. It’s a shame that people think they have a right to push out what nature put there first. Look around, everywhere, sooner or later, nature will adapt and prevail.

    There are plenty of ways to discourage deer, perhaps they should learn a few of them.

  12. a.torch says:

    I’m patiently waiting for the flood to come back ……………..


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