A year ago, come February, the leaders of the Memphis Zoo chose to clearcut four acres of publicly owned 10,000-year-old forest in Overton Park.
That's four acres of natural born beauty, now buried under asphalt and concrete.
The old growth forest of Overton Park, known to all Memphians as the Old Forest, has been public parkland since 1901. Over the years, the Old Forest has been whittled down from more than 175 acres to less than 150 acres -- mostly due to Memphis Zoo expansions.
The Memphis Zoo keeps getting bigger, but is it getting better? There are many ways for our Zoo to continue to grow and improve without sacrificing any more of our public parkland.
CPOP thinks it's time for the leaders of the Memphis Zoo to focus their sights on redeveloping moribund exhibits (for example: the hippo pools, the Aquarium, and the abandoned kiddie rides) and renovating or replacing outdated exhibits (for example: the Round Barn, the rhino pen, the elephant pen, the giraffe pen, and the Herpetarium).
But we can't force the leaders of the Memphis Zoo to rethink their suburban slash-and-burn growth paradigm.
We can't force the leaders of the Memphis Zoo to understand that an old growth forest in Memphis is every bit as valuable as an old growth forest in China or Kenya or Brazil.
We can't force the leaders of the Memphis Zoo to apologize for the Teton Clearcut.
But we can defend the future of our public parkland. We can work to secure legal protection for the surviving Old Forest.
With your help, we can ensure that our children will never have to witness another clearcut at Overton Park.
To that end, please join CPOP for a foot-stompin' benefit concert to mark the first anniversary of the Teton Clearcut. We figure the best way to pay tribute to four acres of lost forest is by celebrating the 150 beautiful acres that survive.
The first annual Old Forest Jamboree will begin at 7:00pm, Wednesday, February 18 at the fabulous Hi-Tone Cafe, 1913 Poplar Ave. The cover charge is $10 and all proceeds will support the work of Citizens to Preserve Overton Park.
Here's the lineup:
We are thrilled and grateful that so many talented musicians are willing to give their time and support to the Old Forest. Y'all come dance with us, and don't forget to invite your friends and neighbors!