The River That Lost Its Rights: A Step Back From Environmental Madness

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The River That Lost Its Rights: A Step Back From Environmental Madness
The River That Lost Its Rights: A Step Back From Environmental Madness

Nederland, Colorado, is a small town about 15 miles west of Boulder. In 2021, an environmental group called Save the World’s Rivers (SWR) encouraged local authorities to pass a “Rights of Nature Resolution.” This resolution granted “fundamental and inalienable rights” to inanimate natural objects.

Fantasy Overrides Real Human Needs

In this case, the object is a 448-square-mile watershed. According to the resolution, the flowing waters have “fundamental and inalienable rights.” Among these are the rights to “maintain natural flow” and “to exist free of activities, practices, and obstructions.” According to SWR, such considerations are similar to the human rights of life and liberty.

Eternal and Natural Law: The Foundation of Morals and Law

At the time, The Denver Post quoted Nederland trustee and resolution supporter Alan Apt. “This may become a national movement. We’re at a very early stage, just getting off the ground with this. Human needs are important, and we want to make sure we meet the needs of our human population. But we also need to think about the air, water, wildlife, trees—everything that constitutes nature. It’s a survival issue.”

Later, Nederland fell victim to the ongoing Colorado water shortage. Its water board proposed the very sort of “obstruction” that the original resolution’s language forbade—a dam to create a reservoir.

A Controversy Between Romance and Reality

SWR’s founder, Gary Wockner, claimed there were other options. The group argued that the earlier Resolution recognized the creek’s inviolable rights. Possessing such rights made the creek more important than the dam. During court proceedings, Mr. Wockner further argued that the water board’s objections regarding the Nederland dam were unrelated to the Rights of Nature Resolution.

As the very real consequences of the Rights of Nature Resolution became evident, residents overwhelmingly favored repealing it. The resulting controversy underscored the importance of considering policies that benefit both the good of nature and man’s needs. No physical human need could be more fundamental than water. The town’s residents, led by Mayor Bill Gilbin, raised concerns over the potential misuse of resolutions. Environmental groups like SWR seek to impose unbalanced restrictions on the use of natural resources.

The local water commission decided against the SWR’s one-sided approach to water management. It favored balancing environmental concerns with basic societal needs. Its members contended that responsible resource allocation is essential for a community’s well-being. Indeed, these decisions are a God-given duty to provide wise human stewardship for His creation. Furthermore, dam projects play vital roles in communities, providing jobs, essential resources, electricity and legitimate recreation.

Sanity Triumphs

Subsequently, the local water board unanimously repealed the Rights of Nature Resolution. The board argued that the original resolution’s language was not legally binding.

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Nederland’s decision to repeal the Rights of Nature Resolution for watersheds reflects a shift towards safeguarding water security in the face of growing environmental tyranny. It asserts the town’s stance against extreme pressures, advocated and implemented by environmental zealots. Nederland has reinforced its commitment to supporting reasonable policies and water resource management by prioritizing residents’ legitimate needs over the creek’s presumed entitlements.

The board of trustees from Nederland cautioned other Colorado towns against similar debacles by advising them to carefully consider the consequences of Rights of Nature Resolution initiatives by radical environmentalists to avoid conflicts of this nature. Some board members are considering drafting new environmental protection policies independent of environmental organizations.

Rights Cannot Exist Without the Capacity to Reason

The crux of the matter is that creeks do not have rights; only people do.

This situation underscores the need for transparency and honesty from the environmental movement. Such is unlikely to happen as the left continues to push for the rights of inanimate objects to the detriment of mankind. In light of recent developments, radical environmentalists have gone beyond assigning rights to animals. Now, they want to give rights to “Mother Earth.”

Such a position is the logical consequence of illogical premises. If a being belongs to a species incapable of free moral judgment, it cannot be entitled to rights. Given the lack of the capacity to reason within the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, a creek cannot possess rights. The town of Nederland has every right to build a dam in accordance with its needs and desires.

Photo Credit: © amadeustx –

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