I am trying to save a sliver of nature and history. I am hoping that sanity will prevail over megalomania.
In the not too distant future, when you see the natural landscape of Nahal Anabe and Ben Shemen Forest obliterated by 4- and 6-lane thoroughfares, remember this blog post. Remember how some citizens-who-cared tried to convince the bureaucrats and elected officials of Modiin that preserving the city’s “backyard” habitat is just as vital for city residents as creating commerce and jobs.
Until recently I had never been involved in environmental activism. That changed this past spring when I was enlisted by my friend Alon Tal to join a group of petitioners in an effort to divert a road leading from Highway 431 to the Business Park in Modiin (Ligad). [Alon is one of Israeli’s leading environmentalists. He founded Adam Teva V’din – the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. He was recently selected by The Marker financial magazine to its 2010 list of The Most Influential Israelis, 101 people who have had the greatest positive impact on Israel’s economy and social fabric.]
Nahal Anabe, a seasonal stream that runs dry nearly all year long, begins its course less than a kilometer from my home. Its point of origin is nearly within viewing distance as I look beyond my computer screen and out my window.
Once it passes Maccabim, Nahal Anabe goes underground beneath Emek Hahulah boulevard in Modiin. It emerges in Anabe Park near the city center, and courses along until joining Nahal Ayalon near the new Anabe interchange on Highway 1.
We often ride our bikes on the dirt trail that runs alongside the Anabe stream bed from the park to the Ben Shemen forest. It is one of the few trails we can easily reach directly from home, without having to transport our bikes by car. Indeed, it is one of the few remnants of natural landscape within the municipal borders. We also orienteer in this area. The Israel National Trail passes nearby. So I care a lot about protecting this small slice of wilderness.
Our petition is a rather complicated matter. Suffice to say that we are trying to get the city to divert a road whose construction is imminent. The road plans include a massive bridge (7 pilings) to be erected across Nahal Anabe exactly on top of two limekilns — the most significant and visible archeological remains along the nahal. Remains of a winepress and a water cistern are also found there. While the plans require the preservation of these two limekilns, it is highly unlikely they will survive such a construction project.
At our first court appearance, the judge did not dismiss our petition, but ordered us to meet with the city mayor and city engineer — the only two people (!) whose signature is required on the construction permit — and to attempt to resolve the issue. Should we fail to reach an agreement, we will be back in court at the end of October for the judge to hear the case.
You can see our proposal in the diagram below. The thick red line (with the sharp right turn and sharp left turn) is the planned road. The thick beige line is our proposed alternative. It crosses Anabe at a point where construction will be far less destructive.
While I’m not overly optimistic about our chances of getting the road diverted, at least I will be able to say: I tried.
If you feel the same way, show your support. Click on Modiin Road 4 Alternative at the top of this blog to send a protest message to the mayor. Sign the SPNI petition. Put a bumper sticker on your car (contact me for one). Help us get the word out.
Save the date – October 16 – and come out to Anabe for an SPNI Alternateva happening and orienteering event. We may still be able to save Anabe.