Last Friday evening, we were saddened to see that the acre of land just north of us was being cleared. When we moved here there was a little strip of five acres, with a street along the front and a power easement along the back. The five acres were a nice little patch of dense forest. To the south was a couple of acres in use as a rookery: a place where herons, egrets and roseate spoonbills nested and raised hundreds of young every year. Our two acres are in the middle, and to the north is a single acre. We had hoped someone else who loved the forest as much as we do would buy it, but no such luck.
Bulldozing land in Houston is pretty common. Owners clear cut property here, often for little or no reason. What is sad is that the land around us, denuded of trees, shrubs and ground cover, is almost entirely unused. Almost five years ago our neighbor to the south bulldozed his two acres. Prior to that, the above-mentioned rookery consisted of many hundreds of birds. Our friend Joan, an evolutionary biologist and avid birder, was amazed to find such a thing in Houston. It disappeared in a couple of days and since then has sat empty, a weedy mess that is mowed infrequently with a crudely painted “land for sale” sign. For a year, we would see herons and egrets fly in, apparently hoping to find their old nesting place. They would fly over a few times and disappear.
So we were really sorry to see the other acre mowed down. There were some beautiful trees there; oaks, American hollies, rough-leafed dogwoods. The guys doing the bulldozing were apologetic – they empathetically noted that the same thing is happening around their homes. The trees and shrubs that were knocked down were being taken to the dump. The land is bare, at least for now. The owner hasn’t told us what will be built there; maybe nothing. We had a turtle show up in our pond a few weeks ago. Any future turtles, like the herons, will be increasingly pressed to find a home in this neighborhood, as empty as it is.