When bankers, developers, builders and politicians get together, odds are the outcome of their mischief-making will spell disaster for Planet Earth. Such a group agreed more than a year ago that it was time to lay waste to a tract of majestic forest across the road from my home. Months ago, the surveyors were in the woods leaving behind flags on sticks marking the points for future destruction. Days before the bulldozers arrived, dozens of trees were sprayed with orange Day-Glo paint.

In place of the woods, we’ll be getting yet another cookie-cutter subdivision of too-expensive homes. Located in Garner’s “buffer zone,” this land is a part of Wake County that until recently was almost entirely undeveloped farmland. In the quiet of night, it is still possible to hear cows mooing in nearby pastures. During the day, we hear the ceaseless whirring of internal combustion engines on roads already clogged beyond capacity.

Last month brought new sounds–death knells: chainsaws, bulldozers and tree-extractors. In just one afternoon the beauty that took nature decades to create was reduced to silty soil and clay. Not a tree was left standing. The first road into the woods cut across several trails that my family has walked and run along when we wanted to enjoy the out-of-doors. We’ve seen turtles, snakes, deer, foxes, birds and other small animals on our walks.

Each day the destruction increases as the forest is decimated for another cul-de-sac. Dump trucks, one after another, leave the site overflowing with uprooted trees and topsoil: trees that once provided shade and shelter, and topsoil, teeming with life, that once formed the moist base of the forest.

Last year, my family and a few others went to a Garner Board of Aldermen meeting to plead for the Earth. In the back of the room I held a sign that stated: Garner is growing–like cancer. The aldermen listened politely to our pleas and unanimously sided with the developers. Garner, like so many towns in our state, is unwilling to stop the runaway sprawl that is wreaking havoc and ruining our quality of life.

I still run in the woods most afternoons, but each time my run is shorter as I hit another wall of downed trees. One day I found a nearly empty can of the orange spray paint. Shaking the can, I was able to get enough paint to scrawl the word “sin” on one of the trees left standing.