Taking Care

Laurie Van Zandt
The Ogden Valley News, November 15, 2006

Over and over again, I hear people new to the area comment on how absolutely beautiful the Ogden Valley is. I have lived here for almost six years, and constantly have my breath taken away by the incredible beauty that surrounds us daily. How lucky are we to call this place home? Doubtless, old timers feel the same way. As the Valley swells with the sounds and sights of construction, how do we retain this natural and historical work of art so that we can all continue to enjoy this scenic splendor? How? By taking care.

By taking care in our driving so that we allow wildlife as safe a passage as possible. Care to ensure that our pesticide, herbicide and waste practices do as little damage to the environment as possible. Go organic. Recycle. Drive gas efficient vehicles. Use our resources wisely. Minimize our outdoor lighting, so that we can all enjoy the desert night sky. Take care to balance our right to a view, with that of our neighbors. Care that the profile and placement of our homes allow the mountains and hills and native vegetation to dominate the ridgelines. Care that the exteriors of our houses blend in with the colors of the surrounding vegetation. Care that our plant choices mimic and complement the incredibly, subtle offerings of buff and tan, silver and gold, steel blues and dark greens, and autumn hues of golden oranges, rusts and sunshine that blanket our local hillsides.

In a previous article, I had written about sustainability and a sense of place. Construction and development is progressing at a rapid, rapid pace here in Ogden Valley. The imperative to sustain this valley has reached a critical point. Maybe it is time to slow down enough to consider the impact of our development on this land. Can homes be better designed to blend into the landscape? Can homes be downsized to lessen their impact and to use less of our natural resources? Can architecture and landscape design reflect the rich heritage and natural beauty of Ogden Valley?

At the bottom of the valley, here and there you can still find pioneer cabins squatting low to the ground. Fields of hay and alfalfa follow the lay of the land, with old farm houses surrounded by porches and lilacs, rambling roses and junipers, oversized vegetable gardens and giant, gnarled apple trees. Surrounding this verdant checkerboard are rolling hills of Big Tooth maple, chokecherry, juniper, hawthorn, silver sage, mules ear, and a myriad of beautiful grasses. Higher up we find Gambel Oak, Oregon Grape, scatterings of Mountain Mahogany, geranium and aster, in addition to the Big Tooth and sage. Higher still we find fir and aspen, Limber pine and spruce, serviceberry, snowberry, elderberry and thimbleberry, columbine and penstemon. If we can appreciate the unique beauty of each community of vegetation, we will take care to plant our gardens so that they compliment the elevation that they are in. To not try and create an alpine look in sage brush community, or an desert look in a riverfront community. A plant palette need not be entirely native to fit into its environment. Ornamental plants can be used that mimic the texture, feel, color and size of natives. Care can be taken to leave as much of the existing, native plants as undisturbed as practically possible.

There are homes in the Valley whose owner’s do strive to have their homes blend into the native landscape. I have had the pleasure to work with some of these people. As you drive around, take the time to look. Notice which homes blend in, and why. These people care.

I will venture to guess that most residents here will say that they care about the Valley, That they care about preserving the uniqueness that is Eden and Huntsville and Nordic Valley and Liberty. To really care, we must act. We all must do our part to ensure that we are leaving gentle marks upon the land. It starts with each one of us doing our part today and using our influence to shape the Ogden Valley of tomorrow.

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