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Another View -- Stuart Sinclair Weeks: Preserving the legacy of the Weeks Act

August 28. 2017 10:07PM

SEN. JOHN WINGATE WEEKS, my great-grandfather, was the author of The Weeks Act, which saved our Northern Kingdom from what was becoming desolation in the White Mountains.

The Weeks Act established our national forests, which have since safeguarded our land, natural resources, and their immeasurable recreational value. Weeks was a man of preeminent common sense.

In that spirit, I offer these words with respect to the Northern Pass and on behalf of my great-grandfather.

I believe John Wingate Weeks would invite us to consider three points:

Before Hydro-Quebec brings its bulldozers, scrapers, excavators, shovels, cranes, and towering transmission towers across the border and into our pristine Northern Kingdom, it would be well advised to first clean up the devastation it created in the Hudson Bay and Far North.

As John Harrigan, one blessed old-timer and native son put it: “Clean up your own neck of the woods and nest before you even consider fouling ours.”

The flooding, waste, and devastation is crying for attention, as can be vividly witnessed by searching online for “environmental degradation,” “flooding,” or “despoiliation” in “James Bay” and “Plein du Nord”/Far North.”

The second counsel that John Wingate Weeks would offer is to be honest, civil, and transparent in your dealings — if, that is, Hydro- Quebec and Northern Pass take themselves seriously.

The Weeks Act, itself, was not pushed through a corporate agenda, but, in fact, the opposite. It was conceived in common sense and born of compromise, the kind of compromise that arises when those who are party to such an act have not solely their own interest, but the greater interest in mind.

A native son of the North Country, John Wingate Weeks’ enduring legacy was one of public service.

Is it not clear that Northern Pass will undermine our foundation (tourism, land values, the very vista and social fabric of the North Country), leaving us with little left to build upon?

As the “Garden State” of New Jersey reveals, once such degradation begins — creeps in with the first towering transmission lines — it is the beginning of the end. How many tourists stop on the Garden State Parkway these days to admire the scenery? We’re just a hop, skip, and jump up the road.

I am not as familiar with Canada as I am with these United States, but here state legislators, as representatives of the people, are tasked with the responsibility to revoke the charter of a corporation that operates in violation of and at the mounting expense to its citizens.

I trust no one expects us to believe that if we planned to bring such devastation, into anyone’s backyards, that they would not speak up, forcefully.

Finally, John Wingate Weeks would have asked if, indeed, there was not a piece of our beleaguered Earth that the people behind Northern Pass hold dear: a piece of land that they grew up on, or have come to love over the years — a place that they would not want to see razed or scarred, as their plans for our Northern Kingdom forebode.

Do those at the helm of Hydro-Quebec and Eversource know what he would have meant?

If so, I invite them, on behalf of my great-grandfather, to visit just such a site, near and dear to John Wingate Weeks’ heart: Mt. Prospect/Weeks State Park in Lancaster, on Saturday, Sept. 30.

From the summit we can behold, with our own eyes, what the towering transmission towers would do to the land and communities around the park, this beloved vista.

A heartfelt welcome to join me, members of the Weeks family, and our other public servants — along with a great-grandfather, enduring guide — beginning at 2 p.m. with a tour of the museum.

The remarkable photographs and exhibitions tell the story, ongoing saga, of the White Mountains and its National Forest. Afterward, we invite you to join us, friends, as our guests, for a simple community supper.

I trust that the visit will not only expand all our vistas, but that it will provide one and all with the opportunity to offer up our best thoughts — while we still can — to this Creation, long-suffering, that would sustain us all.

Stuart Sinclair Weeks is a Lancaster resident.

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