Each time the schooner is hitched and a course set for the river Blue, the sea lane taken goes past a group of big ugly holes in the ground.
They're big ugly holes created by the significant mining industry that exists within this southern current of the greater prairie ocean.
It's rather simple what they do. They start digging, first downward, and then outward, and it isn't long until their efforts take the shape and form of a big ugly-ass hole in the ground.
There's a bunch of them already, and now it appears they may be one more on the way. Recently, application was made to create another big ugly hole in the ground. How big and ugly? Uh, about 575 acres of ugly.
What do we get in return for all these deep holes in the ground here on the prairie ocean? Well.... we do get some jobs - dirty jobs they are. Then, there's most likely some ad valorem taxes floating around. Big ugly holes result in less habitat for wildlife, and a whole lot of extra dust in the air. The worst part of big ugly holes is they result in a sensitive sole-source aquifer being punctured time, after time, after time - where pristine water percolates upward, resulting in less streamflow for the local creeks, streams, and rivers. Oh yeah, we get another hole in the ground too.
Big holes in the ground result in the taking of the natural resources of this area. There is mining of sand, along with dolomite, granite, and other rocks. Basically, they take big rocks and pound the daylight out of them to make little rocks. Then those little rocks are loaded onto train cars and a locomotive pulling a 100 car serpent heads south; on it's way with a payload of our natural resources to a destination where the resources will become road material.
Along the way, there are mesa's of rubble, waiting for transport in becoming a road, highway, or interstate somewhere.
It would reason that with all the stuff each and everyone of us throw away on a daily basis, there could be a process to reclaim all that stuff - stuff like plastic bottles, used tires, ripped-off shingles and roofing material and then smash, mash, slice and dice it, mix it all up with some kind of super binding agent and make road materials that will last 75 years or better. Most likely this has already been thought of, but, most likely the process is cost prohibitive and it's easier and cheaper to simply dig big ugly holes in the ground.
I don't like those big holes. They have been, and will continue to rob this area of precious water. Over the last forty years I've watched a good number of springs disappear. Since 1981, I've watched Blue River grow slimmer, skinnier, and less vibrant. It's to the point we could have a good number of wet years, instead of drought, and our streams and rivers would only recover to a mere shadow of what they once was.
The really sad part is the caretakers, those who own these big holes, will someday abandoned them. And once that happens, we who harbor in this southern current of the greater prairie ocean will find fewer jobs, less ad valorem taxes, less wildlife habitat, dried-up springs and streams.... and be left with a lot of big ugly holes in the ground.