The Dangers of Progress in the Ozarks

The natural, serene way of life in the Ozards is threatened by industrialization.

| November/December 1976

  • ozarks
    Encroaching industrialization threatens the natural beauty of the Ozarks.

  • ozarks

Until we subscribed to MOTHER—and started reading articles like Sharon Kruse's "Up on the Farm" (MOTHER NOS. 29 and 42), Mary Jo Frolick's "Report From the Ozarks" (MOTHER NO. 30), and Paul Durand's "More on Ozarks Living" (MOTHER NO. 33), among others—my husband and I had no idea how popular our Arkansas Ozarks were among back-to-the-landers. (And we've lived in these mountains, on 160 acres south of the city of Fayetteville, since 1968! )

After residing here for several years, we can understand why the region has become so popular: It's as beautiful and serene a piece of the country as anyone could hope to find. We want to alert MOTHER's readers, however, to the presence of a snake in our Ozarks "Garden of Eden". The name of the serpent is Progress . . . and the foul plans being perpetrated in its name stand a good chance of spoiling these mountains for all who live here, unless something is done soon.

Here are just a few of the ways in which Progress has recently reared its ugly head in this area:

[1] The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO)—despite the efforts of organized grass root and professional opposition—is going ahead with the construction of a coal-powered electric generating plant in rural Benton County, in the northwest corner of the state. (The plant will burn high-sulfur coal that's been strip mined in Wyoming and hauled in by train.) The Good Guys had the important facts on their side—holes in SWEPCO's environmental impact statement, data on emissions from the burning of low-grade coal, etc. —but the bulldozers are running just the same

[2] The "feasibility" of a regional jetport has recently been studied again. This land-eating, ear shattering 1,500-acre behemoth has already been voted down by rural residents twice. Next time around, though—probably in 1977—there won't be any two-county referendum. Instead, because the cities of Fayetteville and Springdale will own the "regional" airport, only city residents (spurred on by Chamber of Commerce and Frontier Airline public relations campaigns) will get the chance to vote.

As for "feasibility": At least one researcher for the consulting firm in charge of the latest study was forbidden from coming up with any results that might contradict the development's feasibility.

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