Show ‘em how it’s done

Published 9:50 pm Monday, January 1, 2018

It was six years ago that a mining company asked the state for the right to dump a daily flood of freshwater into the brackish waters of Blounts Creek. The state said yes, though not before they heard the objections of other state agencies and some experts who thought it’d be a really bad idea to mess with an ecosystem that’s officially designated a nursery for saltwater species.

But the state said yes and gave Martin Marietta Materials the permit anyway.

In many places, it would have been the end of objections. Government and big business is too big to take on — there’s no winning for the common man. People would have simply shrugged their shoulders and walked away, muttering, “That’s just the way things are.”

That didn’t happen here in Beaufort County. The state and the mining company did not count on people’s love of the landscape and the waterways that wind through it. This group came together: boaters and creek residents, business owners and environmentalists, kayakers and swimmers. Some were wealthy, some were not so wealthy; some were retired, others had yet to hit double digits in age, but they all recognized the potential for destruction of the natural habitat they hold dear.

So they fought to save their creek. They held fundraisers and rallies; they wrote letters and lobbied their elected officials. They showed up to court hearings and celebrated the victories, and vowed to fight on when dealt a defeat in what seemed to be an endless battle.

And they won. Last week, a judge said the state had failed to do its job and protect the creek and the species that live there. And he took away the permit. He also said that they did — these boaters, businessmen, retirees, paddleboarders — indeed, have the right to fight for their creek.

They were just a small group of people who stood up for what’s right, who wouldn’t back down in the quest to preserve a place of peace, a place of abundance and natural beauty.

Whether a nature-lover or not, every county resident should express his thanks to the Sound Rivers staff and Save Blounts Creek members for being the front line, the guardians of the creek for current generations and generations to come.

And every county resident should learn from their actions: they pitted few resources against the vast resources of the government and industry, yet emerged the victors. They showed it could be done.