November 03, 2010
Chad Love: California Town Bans Fishing, Frog-netting
By Chad Love
There's been a lot of ink spilled and a lot of public bemoaning the past few years over how modern children are being denied the opportunity to put down their game controllers, unplug their iPods, turn off their smartphones and just go outside to do honest, simple, imagination-driven kid stuff. Climbing trees, building forts, roaming woods, splashing through creeks, catching frogs, crawdads and other such bucolic, rustic, healthy Huck Finn-ish activities. But for crying out loud, how can we expect our kids to develop an interest in the outdoors when we keep making more and more of it off-limits? Look kids, at the wonders of nature! But don’t touch! Don't feel! Don’t actually experience it, or we'll slap a fine on your butt.
From this story in the San Gabriel Valley (California) Tribune:
The Walnut City Council will vote at its next meeting on a proposed ordinance that would ban fishing in the city's waterways. The ordinance would ban residents from netting frogs and fish - including non-native crayfish that populate Walnut's streams. Councilman Tom King said fishing upsets the biological balance in the streams and threatens the city's egret population that feeds on aquatic life. "We want people to enjoy walking around and looking at the wildlife," he said. The City Council will vote on the ordinance at its Nov. 10 meeting.
Seriously? This beggars belief. The Walnut City Council wants to save the city's minnows and crawfish (non-native crawfish, even!) for the city's...egrets? Now putting aside the astoundingly moronic, what-color-is-the-sky-in-your-world statements of Councilman King, here's a question for the Walnut City Council: don’t you think there might be enough minnows and crawdads in your city's drainage ditches that you could possibly spare a few for the kids of your city? Just a few?
Ban adult fishing if you must, but why would you want to turn a kid with a dipnet and curiosity into a criminal? "Walking around and looking at the wildlife" is a fine and commendable activity—if you're visiting a zoo. But if you want instill in a child a sense of wonder and excitement about the natural world, you can't do it from behind a plate-glass window or a no-trespassing sign. You've got to let them get their hands dirty, because those dirty hands make a healthy mind.
So if this proposed ordinance actually passes, is there some way we can nominate the Walnut City Council for a public service Darwin Award?