Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Apple Orchards, Birds, and Retirees Don’t Mix

A short news story on West Virginia Public Radio yesterday afternoon decried the loss of the State’s apple orchards due to urban/suburban development. If memory serves me correctly, the announcer cited a 20 percent decline in acreage in the past 10 years, especially in the Eastern Panhandle, the two easternmost counties of which are actually part of the Washington-Baltimore Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area.

That news was immediately followed by the announcement of a new Web site developed and maintained by the State of West Virginia to lure retirees to the Mountain State. Did the incongruousness of these two messages not impress itself upon the producers?

Apple orchards are moderately important agricultural habitats for birds, although you could argue that, because of the heavy application of pesticides, they may actually represent reproductive sinks (i.e., adult breeding birds of some species are attrac
d to orchards for nesting but ultimately produce few if any young; thus, apple orchards can probably be viewed as ecological traps, exporting far fewer birds than they import).

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