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the Chihuahua desert are indeed a shrine.” Capote Falls, “a blue-bright falls in a desert,” “is a miracle” and “should become an urgent federal project,” Douglas writes. Nearby he saw “a Painted Desert. The words are not on any map: they are my own. But to my eves this desert is as bright and brilliant and as unique as any of our better-known displays, including Bryce Canyon.” In South McKittrick Canyon, an ancient West Texas canyon never burned over by fire, the Park Service reports “an association of plant species surviving today which represents a carry-over from the Pleistocene epoch of half a million years ago,” and, Douglas writes, more than 20 new species of insects, a few representing new genera, have been found there. He quotes a companion saying that the canyon, preserved as a national park, would be a great place to educate young people, to show them “a piece of the world as it was a million years ago.” In the Hill Country, Douglas, in what seems to me to be a creative leap of his social imagination, proposes a trail system of several hundred miles along the ridges, with shelters and fireplaces for overnight stops. “I see this trail system linking up with trails along some of the rivers . . . The lovely Prade Ranch at the head of the Frio River, embracing more than 8,000 acres, should be under public custody.” He suggests that a complex of parks in the Hill Country should be called the LBJ Park System. Most of Douglas’ book is given over to informal, engrossing outdoors talk, botanical recitations, birds watched, storytelling, recipes, notes on parks and people met on the way to parks. He writes at length of his party’s raft trip down the Rio Grande through the dangerous racing canyons of the Big Bend, with Bill Kugle of Athens going ahead as scout in a kayak. These canyons are dangerous; scuttled in them, you will have hell getting out. Douglas conveys, too, their mystery, subtlety, and grandeur. The flat sandbanks of the Boquillas, he writes, are a place for re N/e ries , and once “We stopped for lunch on a sandy gravel beach, heating cans of chili in the fire; and we lay dozing afterward in the warm winter sun.” The exit from Boquillas, he writes, “is dramatic. This canyon does not slowly shrink; it maintains its height and grandeur to the very exit. I saw a bright shaft of sunlight ahead and in a few minutes I was in it, drenched Nvi th the cloudless brilliance of the Chihuahua desert. The darkened cavern was far behind. The river was now so placid it was hard to imagine the energy it generated in the great slide.” Not since John Graves’ Goodbye to a River, and before that Roy Bedichek’s Adventures with a Texas Naturalist, has Texas been begifted with such nature writing as Farewell to Texas. The older Douglas gets the more he shows us all up. He’s a great old man, and we in Texas can be grateful that he spent some of his time, tramping the world around, here in Texas, so he could tell us what we ought to have known without being told, but didn’t. R.D. They Have Ruined Our River The Kountze News, lying in the heart of Texas’ Big Thicket, has long championed preservation of that treasure trove of nature. Recently Gordon Baxter, a News columnist and area radio man, wrote a column titled “They Have Ruined Our River,” referring to the nearby Neches River. Sen. Ralph Yarborough inserted the column in the Congressional Record. Kountze The river stinks, and the river is black, and the river is vile, and is pollitted. The paper mill can furnish you with chemical evidence that the water it is discharging back into the river after using it in its plant is actually more pure than the river itself. There is absolutely nothing harmful in the water, nothing toxic. This may be true. It may be chemically pure, but it is nasty for recreation and for families who go there to swim, to ski, to camp, and come home sick from the river. Where the fishermen used to spend their quiet hours there is the stench of chemically polluted waters and the white bellies of floating dead fish. It is obvious that the paper mill, which has been known to furnish airplane transportation for successful political candidates, is callous about what they are doing to the river, and up to now they seem to be immune to any sort of action to make them stop what they are doing to the Neches river. They also deny that they are harming the river. So let me not accuse the paper mill, or attack them, for they’ve weathered many accusations and attacks in the past. They can wait out the periodic flurries of protest, pay minor fines. They have time, money, and influence on their side; they can outlast any do-gooder. The Texas Observer So let me make a different kind of an appeal to those men who are responsible. I know these men to be responsible and decent fellows, intelligent plant managers, but they may be doing a reckless and irresponsible and permanently damaging thing to their community. May I ask you to take a long, second, serious look at the damage you may be doing to the community of the people you are living with? Think back to the example of the big lumber companies a generation ago. They moved into the virgin forest of yellow pine and stripped it. Recklessly laid the countryside bare until one day they realized they had literally cut off their own sawmills at the roots. Then the lumber people took a reverse attitude about the resources they once despoiled. They are now the greatest advocates of reforestation and preventing forest fires. Now the lumber barons are doing the most to keep green the same lands that their forefathers laid bare with reckless cutting. Now a day of reckoning is bound to come when the water users will be economically forced to take a responsible attitude toward the river and streams that they are ruining. That is what I now ask you to do, for I do not think anything else will move you. In the name of every kid flashing by in the sun on water skis, in the name of every old gentleman spending his peaceful days fishing in the shade of a willow, of every family whose picnic you have driven from the banks, of every cell of your community life who respects and enjoys the magazines printed on your paper, please take up your obligation, spend the necessary money, to correct this ever increasing pollution of the streams. Don’t just read this and be aggravated with me, offer some new alibi, or hunt for some way to “get Baxter.” I know you have outlasted all campaigns to stop the river pollution. I feel like a small neighborhood dog barking at the wheels of a big truck. I know, and the truck knows, that I wouldn’t know what to do with it if I caught it. Think instead of the Boy Scouts, those clean kids who used to canoe from Dam B down to Beaumont each summer. This year they came out at the Evadale bridge on the Neches river. We all know why. And that’s such a needless shame. Empty your pockets Onto the floor. Save the pennies for me. They shine the light An amber gold And keep the day From getting cold. Hold your silver Over the sun And let it run Across the sky And empty shimmering Into the moon. A silver sheen And golden cold Reflect across the sky Into your eyes A shadow waiting there. DON HYDE Austin