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A lack of humans doesn't mean it's vacant 

Grover Beach

I object to your characterization of the subdivision north of the Carrizo Plains as “vacant” (“Going once ...,” Aug. 25). People generally consider land “vacant” if it isn’t built upon or inhabited by humans. But there is very little truly vacant land in the United States.

I, too, once believed that terrain such as deserts were “barren.” But upon first visiting the Anza Borrego desert, I learned that even deserts teem with life—from bighorn sheep and mountain lions through hares and tortoises to lizards and a multitude of insects; deserts nourish birds and hundreds of varieties of plants. These all weave an intricate, delicate web of interdependent life that is easily disrupted by human uses.

Carrizo is inhabited, not only by the protected species you mention, but by a host of other plants and creatures that sustain them. The “vacant land” mindset permits heedless land use, only recently (mildly) curbed by environmental regulation. Such land is viewed as freely available for “development” (an odd word to apply to perfectly functioning ecosystems).

We need to remind ourselves that we are not the only creatures on the Earth, and that other creatures sustain not only their own lives, but also our own.

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