The landslide on the hills above Keene Valley is for the landowners and all who have to deal with it a calamity.
I first learned of the dangers of building structures on steep slopes and unstable soils after moving to Southern California in 1959. Luxurious mansions were being built in the Santa Monica Mountains on lands better left as preserves for watershed supply and erosion control and not for tobogganing down slope in your dream home.
Removal of vegetation in these areas is the initial mistake. In his 1864 book Man and Nature, George Perkins Marsh argued that removal of trees and other vegetation in upper-elevation, fragile areas was “the most destructive among the many causes of physical deterioration of the earth.”
In the nineteenth century, Verplanck Colvin and Franklin Hough argued for an Adirondack Forest Preserve that would lessen spring flooding and erosion and maintain water levels for consistent function of lakes, canals, rivers, and reservoirs.
I would add that if one needs a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach their dream home in the mountains that site may well better serve as watershed or wildlife habitat.
Gary Randorf, San Juan, PR
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