清濁之變

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1992 / 3月

文‧張靜茹 圖‧邱瑞金


初到花蓮縣玉里鎮,會以為人們對造物主開了個玩笑——在此會流的清水溪與樂樂溪(閩南語「濁濁」之意),竟是名實不符,甚至應該「姓名互換」。

 

其實,並不是古人會錯了大自然旨意,而是今人忤逆了造化,並已初嘗惡果……。


有兩條發源於中央山脈的溪流,南北並列、由西向東,一路出山入谷,奔脫於茂林群岩間,最後在花蓮縣玉里鎮附近匯合,注入秀姑巒溪。

由於發源地山勢肌裡構造的相異,使這兩條秀姑巒溪上游最主要的支流有著不同的容顏,和迥異的命運。

昭告自然的永恆

位在南方的「清水溪」,水源雖來自中央山脈,但下游主要源頭為海拔七百公尺的清水谷地,地質由砂岩與蛇紋石交錯而成,岩理密實,河床穩固;溪中原布滿巨大、翠綠的蛇紋石,溪水透明澄綠,即使每年由東岸直驅而入的颱風帶來暴雨沖刷洗蝕,也無損溪水的清澈。

北方的拉庫拉庫溪,集水區則遠至中央山脈第一高峰、三千八百多公尺的秀姑巒山,和大水窟山、達芬尖等多座「百岳」,波瀾壯闊。主流長五十三公里,上游有近十條支流齊匯,一路山勢陡峻,兩岸岩質又多為鬆散易崩碎的砂岩、頁岩,因此溪水肥沃富含礦物質,日常無風無雨也呈微濁,下游的閩南人士遂稱它為樂樂(濁濁)溪。

但自然天成的「膚色」無損於樂樂溪的嫵媚,兩條溪流蜿蜒在雄渾山勢間,水流恆定、水源充沛,仿若昭告著自然的永恆……。

清水溪的前世今生

改變由清水溪開始。

「小時候到溪底來玩,得走過彎彎曲曲的山路,爬過由大石頭堆疊的小丘」,五十多歲的玉里鎮民連震德回憶,民國五十九年時,清水溪下游溪水有半人高,溪中不時可以抓到十幾台斤的大鱸鰻。

七十歲的徐開榮則記得,日據時代日人每年十月祭拜神社,就令山地青年採「魚藤」,搗碎後傾入河中,由清水溪上游一路綿延到秀姑巒溪出海口,「都可以撿到被毒昏的溪哥等溪魚。」

充滿生命的河川,一樣有自然的生老代謝——由溪窄水深的U型溪谷,演化成平坦寬闊的河床,往往要千百年,並非一代人在幾十年間可以目睹;但清水溪卻在一、二十載完成了一番生死輪迴。

由玉里上溯清水溪,「今天的河溝是十五年前的兩倍寬」,坐在行走於顛簸不平溪床、幾乎是一路跳躍的吉普車上,林務局玉里工作站林武郎說。放眼所及,大大小小的碎石不斷由上游沖刷而下,堆滿河道,溪水無「路」可行,只得四處奔竄,淘洗兩岸山脈;如此又造成土石鬆動,不停惡性崩壞。

濁水溪?乾水溪?

如今雨季一來,砂石如千軍萬馬奔騰而下,使清水溪下游含沙帶泥,滾滾黃濁,成了比樂樂溪混濁幾十、幾百倍、道道地地的「濁水溪」。

玉里鎮長良里的兩百畝水田,在清水、樂樂兩溪交會口引水灌溉,因清水溪被泥沙不停的汙高,堵塞了灌溉水進水口,有兩個進水口已埋在河床下,「僅剩的一個,挖土機得隨時侍候,清除堵塞的砂石」,花蓮農田水利會玉里工作站站長張智超說,六、七年來已花掉二千多萬的挖土費。

如今溪水更時澇、時旱,多下點雨,大水迅速抵達,泛濫兩岸,位在下游右岸的清水堤防連續三年被沖斷;幾天不下雨,溪流即刻枯乾,旱季連涓涓細流也成奢望,清水溪此時又成了「乾水溪」,溪中魚、蝦亦成絕響。「清水溪水文已經死掉,根本無法攔水,早該放棄了」,張智超說。

在清水溪由清新小河變成喜怒無常的「怒河」時,樂樂溪卻仍舊邁著亙古以來一貫流暢的腳步。

不虞匱乏的生命力

拜訪玉里鎮人家,往往家中養著一缸長相、體色平平的魚,和西部人家喜養五彩鬥豔的進口熱帶魚大異其趣,但它卻是來自樂樂溪的台灣特有高身奕翩C雖然違反野生動物保育法不准飼養特稀有動物的規定,但到了此地,保育法也只好「因地制宜」,「在樂樂溪釣魚就是會釣到它!」一位玉里鎮民說這是「莫法度」的事。玉山國家公園管理處南安站主任吳振宇也證實樂樂溪有不少高身奕翩C

在樂樂溪邊的南安谷地有一片林務局玉里工作站經營的牛樟採穗園,園裡不時可見藍鵲、獼猴、山羌,「常有山豬拱壞我們的圍籬!」玉里工作站吳振榮說,動物下樂樂溪飲水時會經過此地。

水源豐沛的樂樂溪,人們也對其依賴日殷——如今不但長良里的農田再度圍堤、越過清水溪引樂樂溪水灌溉,玉里鎮在秀姑巒溪東岸(河東)的幾個里,每逢旱季也倚靠樂樂溪補充灌溉水的不足。

樂樂溪是目前花蓮縣水力足夠設發電廠的三條河流之一,在下游卓溪鄉鹿鳴苗圃以下,水流湍急,「泛起舟來刺激不下秀姑巒溪」,吳振宇一臉的意猶未盡。

「故鄉」變色

清水溪的生命力也曾不虞匱乏。而它是如何在短短期間耗竭生命、被宣告「水文已死」?

一百五十年前當第一個為台灣贏得出口「世界第一」冠冕的樟腦業如火如荼展開之際,清水溪便貢獻了許多兩岸的原生樟木林。但直到日據時期,清水與長良兩條直抵清水溪源頭的林道修築完成,開始大規模砍伐林木,森林是水的故鄉,「故鄉」動搖,清水溪才真正開始走向死亡之約。

民國五十年代,政府在爭取外匯,致力發展工業的經建政策下,伐木業進入顛峰期,民國四十九年玉里林管處成立,清水溪上游林班源源不絕送出紅檜、扁柏等一級針葉木和櫧木、楠木、烏心石等闊葉木。

玉里協和鋸木廠老闆邱顯宗還記得,民國四十到五十年代,一個林班約兩百多甲林地,上百個工人,一年伐掉一萬立方公尺的材積。「連專門維修林道的工人都有一、二十個。」他說,當年玉里鎮的勞動者幾乎都從事林業工作。

當時河中常佈滿順流而下的漂流木,「我們小時候常到河媥艉鴔驉A站在自己選中的木頭上,順著河水漂到秀姑巒溪邊的家」,吳振榮說。

從地表到地下

運載著木材的卡車、火車,一車接著一車,由玉里駛過,北上花蓮,再送往西部或外銷;如此廿幾載,直到六十年代——台灣步入繁榮的關鍵時代來到——農林產業逐漸由工礦業替代,在玉里鎮進出的運材車也在不知覺中,轉換成滿載綠色蛇紋石的運礦車。

五十年代東海岸已開始外銷大理石、風景石,當時琉球興建海底公園,石材大多購自此地。比大理石耐強酸,是做家俱上等材料的蛇紋石,也未能免於這第二波的開發攻勢;恆久魚貫在清水溪上的大大小小蛇紋石,遂被採礦人撿選一空。

「河床就是礦場,只要現場點石、吊載、運走」,如今玉里人仍記憶深刻,當時眼光敏銳,拔得頭籌在此申請採礦的「久寶公司」「幾乎不花成本,一夜致富」,玉里人異口同聲。

繁華歲月

下游石頭撿盡,採礦人一路溯溪而上,民國六十年開始,在清水谷地一千五百公頃的林地上,就有十六家公司申請開礦。「清水谷地最多時有三、四百人挖礦,和卅幾輛承載量達卅噸的卡車上下」,清水谷地採礦監工劉寶經說。廿年來,清水溪開採的蛇紋石佔全台灣總產值的五分之三。

當清水溪木材、石礦傾巢而出,位在下游的首要聚落玉里,也由純樸小鎮剎時繁榮起來,以東部最大木材集散地的身分,成為花蓮市與台東市之外的花東最大市鎮。

玉里鎮公所秘書室陳清吉指出,在伐木業未衰,採礦業已盛的交鋒期,玉里人口曾多達七萬人,是今天的兩倍。當時外來人口很多,譬如由台中、高雄各地紛紛來選購木料的木材商。為方便接洽生意的商人,土地銀行也在當時成立,以小小的玉里車站為中心,「有廿幾家旅館,好幾十部三輪車」,已有百年歷史的璞石閣旅館老闆林守昌用手指比數了一下說。

崇山峻嶺不可侵犯

在這段清水溪與玉里鎮的風光歲月,樂樂溪卻顯得沉寂。並非它自然資源貧乏——樂樂溪中、上游生長著許多珍貴林木,礦務局也發現在中游瓦拉米一帶蘊藏豐富的白色大理石礦,且已有十三家礦商申請探礦、採礦,躍躍欲試。

樂樂溪的開發史,其實可以追溯到清朝,沈葆楨為打通東西聯絡道路,派南澳總兵吳光亮開鑿八通關古道,東段即順樂樂溪流域的山形水勢而行。日據時期為管理當地山胞,日人也沿山過溪,另開八通關警備道路。但樂樂溪沿途是叛逆不馴的崇山峻嶺,加上地質脆弱,在人們眼中地形惡劣,開路挑戰極大,因此進出只能靠簡便的步道,離交通要道尚有卅幾公里的石礦雖受人覬覦,人們卻不得其門而入,樂樂溪流域遂能保持原始粗獷的風貌。

民國六十六年,台灣省公路局規劃新中橫公路,其中東線將深入樂樂溪中、上遊,再由大分、瓦拉米出玉里。不僅許多玉里人欣喜新中橫一開,玉里交通將更方便,樂樂溪也等於敞開大門,可進出自如;瓦拉米石礦更因開採有望,礦商大樂,個個摩拳擦掌。

此「路」不通

所幸「人算不如天算」,七十四年玉山國家公園管理處成立,將富有生態與人文(原住民遺址、八通關古道)景觀的樂樂溪流域,由瓦拉米以上一筆劃入國家公園。

國家公園管理處根據中華工程顧問公司評估:玉里到大分五十幾公里的新中橫公路需經過卅處地質破碎、易崩坍的不穩定路段,維持費用高昂,經濟利用價值低。此外,開路更將對自然生態造成無可彌補的損傷。在國家公園委託台大動物系作的調查報告指出,樂樂溪到南邊的新康山之間,山羌、長鬃山羊、水鹿等哺乳動物數量甚多,也不時可見朱鸝、林雕、帝雉等稀有鳥類。而開路將把多種稀有生物族群阻隔兩地,危及其繁衍。種種考量下,國家公園要求重新評估開路風險,新中橫遂由玉里開築十四.五公里後,暫告停工。

發展至此,清水溪和樂樂溪已成了兩條命運背道而馳的河流。

「社會價值」盡失

隨著民國六十年代後期,林業政策修訂,伐木業沒落,七十年代礦業敵不過進口石材的競爭,也一落千丈,玉里鎮上僅存的一家老字號製材場如今木料來源是進口貨,「比較有規模的旅館也只剩五、六家」,璞石閣老闆林守昌說。

當玉里繁華落盡,一個曾經令人留戀的水域——清水溪,不僅失去了經濟價值,也永遠失去了它身為自然資源國土保安的「社會價值」。

幾十年來大量砍伐森林,清水溪元氣大傷,種下了旱、澇不斷的因子。繼之開礦的重創——採礦業者對開礦技術的不在乎,給生態帶來更深層的災難。

由於蛇紋石礦分佈型態是零散於礦脈中,必須開山破土尋找礦源,國內開礦技術又一直停留在炸山、挖山的原始方式,「由下方開鑿到整個山垮下來的『下耙法』」,劉寶經說,雖然礦業安全檢查要求採礦業者做水土保持、擋土牆、廢石堆積場……,但在清水農場上,這些設施卻一直付之闕如。

「玉里洩洪區」

清水溪礦場最早由業者向林務局承租,後來軍方又把所有權撥給警總職訓總隊做為管訓場(清水農場),而礦安檢查則由礦物局負責。在管理單位呈多頭馬車,礦場又天高皇帝遠的情況下,礦安法令難以執行,業者也自由心證。

「挖都來不及,那有時間做擋土牆?」在清水礦場工作多年的劉寶經坦承,過去業者都把碎石棄置河道,也從未在礦區做過植生復原。「下游的水田就曾被山上傾倒的泥漿淹沒」,吳振榮說。

根據礦務局的登記冊記載,目前清水農場尚有八家業者採礦,每年仍生產約七、八萬噸石礦,而最後一張開礦執照,有效期開採到八十四年。「玉里人要倒大楣了!」目睹清水礦場童山濯濯、亂石堆積,還不時傳來炸山與石頭崩落的聲音,住玉里的森林開發處司機不禁為自己擔心起來。

「若以面積一立方公尺約一.五噸砂石估算,幾十年來,中上游沖蝕掉好幾億噸砂石」,同樣身為東部子弟,極關心清水溪生態的植物學者黃瑞祥說。比廿年前「長高」六、七尺的清水溪下游河床,如今地勢遠高過玉里,使玉里像個大洩洪區。

「雞蛋」沒有玉里人的份?

近三年來每逢春耕播種,清水溪、秀姑巒溪兩岸的農田常遭水鴨侵入覓食,破壞種苗,農民插萬國旗、架鳥網、放鞭炮多管齊下,疲於奔命。

殊不知這也是被觸怒的河川——清水溪上游狂砂亂石揮舞而下,影響了與之同一生命體的主流秀姑巒溪。

如今,秀姑巒溪上游失去了水波不興與草澤、水灘中水族聚生的風景,更牽累借棲於溪中的大批水鴨,無「溪」可棲。「這正是水鴨侵犯農田的理由」,花蓮農業改良場徐保雄為「鴨害」追根究柢。

對玉里的農業,清水溪還埋伏了另一個令植物學者憂心的危機。由於蛇紋石礦含煤、鎳量極高,開礦留下的粉屑、粉塵滲入土壤,將導致植物養分吸收不平衡,造成「礦物公害」。土生土長的連洪德曾計算過自家水田產量,「引樂樂溪水灌溉,平均一期稻作一公頃生產量最高可達一萬台斤,吃清水溪的稻作,同樣面積只有六、七千台斤的收成。」

「說句笑話,我們玉里是『生雞蛋的』沒有,卻留下一大堆『雞屎』」,陳清吉不平地說,伐木、採礦都是由中央課稅,玉里山上的資源被掏空,「我們卻沒有得到任何稅收以經營地方。」而開發時期人潮帶來的經濟脈動,也隨著產業沒落,如海市蜃樓般消失。

使用利息,永留資本

清水溪的命運,是人們以不當方法創造財富,而使自然資源永劫不復的例證。

回頭看看清水溪的對照組——樂樂溪,雖然因天然地勢與劃入國家公園,暫時避掉開發的巨掌,但玉里開路與採礦的聲浪仍然很大,「恐怕遲早還是敵不過大環境開發的趨勢」,自由時報地方記者、「我愛玉里工作室」創辦人邱顏明悲觀的認為。

「事情其實很明顯,眼前只有兩條路可以走,一條是短視近利的開發,最後就和清水溪一樣,什麼也沒有留下;一個是留著自然山川,則生生不息」,玉山國家公園南安站主任吳振宇說,目前國家公園已規劃好樂樂溪下游的遊憩區和八通關步道,以後旅客來此一遊,可以夜宿玉里。

但如果新中橫通車,人們則開著車輛、頭也不回的火速掠過玉里,「就像南橫公路一開,大家一小時可以趕到台東,當初極力爭取開路、位在東部起點站的海端反而日趨沒落」,他希望玉里人三思,勿步海端後塵。

勿讓樂樂溪成為「清水溪」

以樂樂溪流域地形之險,開了路,恐怕三百六十五天中,有一半以上時間需要關閉道路修護,達不到交通效益,破壞水土弊端立見;有人認為只要以最好的工程技術就可以克服水土破壞,「首先要看合不合經濟效益」,關心樂樂溪發展的台大地理系教授張石角說,其次開路挖礦是結構性事務,在這樣大的敏感地區施工,結果會如何,可以由過去經驗和現有技術判斷出來。此外,誰也無法阻擋文明副產品——垃圾、廢氣、廢土、水源污染,「惡果是必然會發生,且發生後無法挽救的!」他強調,開路採礦屆時只方便了少數人,而社會付出成本,肯定是賠本生意,「最大的輸家,則是子子孫孫。」

即使最後的決策是允許開發,人們就是否能從清水溪得到一點啟示,而避免再一次粗暴的掠奪?

樂樂溪會成為另一條清水溪嗎?玉里會因此從地圖上消失嗎?是考驗這一代人智慧的時刻了。

〔圖片說明〕

P.74

樂樂溪由遠而近,在卓清村附近與清水溪交會。

P.74

玉山國家公園範圍

P.76

清水谷地因過度伐木與開礦,造成許多崩塌地。

P.77

水文觀測站被大水沖毀,「家」由溪邊「搬」進了溪床中。

P.79

林務局在清水谷地展開「百年樹木」的計畫。左為工作人員在雜木林地測量種苗間距。上為上山瞭解種樹進度的林務人員與工人在工寮進餐,並交換植樹心得。

P.80

溪流環繞、群山擁抱的玉里鎮,因清水溪「變色」,潛伏了洪害危機。

P.81

民國六十五年洪水「洗劫」長良與客城,良田、聚落付之水流,玉里鎮民就在水源地土地公廟前砌了個媲美「風獅爺」的「水」字,並不時上香,祈佑水患不再來。

P.82

位在玉里秀姑戀溪邊的農田也遭拖累,時有被淹沒與「鴨害」之慮。

P.83

砂石堵塞了進水口,水利會只好修築簡易河堤越過清水溪,引樂樂溪水灌溉。

P.84

玉里曾因大量伐木,成為花東最大的木材集散地。

P.85

伐木與採礦業沒落,玉里再度成為人口外流多於移入的小鎮。

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EN

From Clear to Cloudy

Chang Chin-ju /photos courtesy of Diago Chiu /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Arriving in the Yuli township of Hualien county, you might come to the conclusion that people are playing a joke on God. Observing the Chingshui (which means clear water) and Lele (which is a Mandarin transcription of word that means murky in Taiwanese), one can't help but think that the names should be swapped.

But it's not that our forefathers misunderstood Mother Nature's will but rather that the disrespect shown by recent generations for their natural inheritance has taken its toll.


The two rivers run parallel from the Central Mountain Range east, flowing out of the mountains and into the valleys, past lush forests and rocks, until they meet in Yuli of Hualien, where they empty into the Hsiukuluan River.

Because of the differences between the mountain areas from which they start, these two principal tributaries of the Hsiukuluan have dissimilar appearances and different destinies.

Proclaiming the Eternity of Nature: The main source of water for the Chingshui, the southern of the two, is the Chingshui Valley, which is 700 meters above sea level in the Central Mountain Range. The geology there is formed of interlocking sandstone and serpentine. The river bed was petrologically stable. The river was originally strewn with large green chunks of serpentine, and the water was transparent green, clear in spite of the erosion brought on by the violent rains of the typhoons, which hit the area straight on every year.

To the north, the Lele River draws its water from such peaks as Mt. Hsiukuluan, which at 3,800 meters above sea level is the highest peak of the Central range, as well as Mt. Tashuiku and Mt. Tafenchien. The main branch of this white water river runs for a course of 53 kilometers. Upstream it has almost 10 tributaries. It flows between steep mountains, and its two banks are primarily made up of easily collapsing sandstone and shale. Hence its waters are good for crops and rich with minerals. Even on clear days it is still a bit cloudy, and thus the Taiwanese downstream called it "the murky river."

But the natural color of the Lele River did not detract from its great beauty. The two rivers flowed between the grandiose mountains with a steady flow of water and abundant water resources as if to announce the eternity of nature. . . .

The Chingshui River--Past and Present: The Chingshui River began to change first.

"When I was small, I'd have to take a winding path between the mountains and climb over huge boulders to come to play in the Chingshui," recalls fifty-something Lien Chen-te. In 1970 the river downstream had a depth of half a man's height, and from time to time you could catch eels weighing more than 13 pounds.

Hsu Kai-jung, 70, remembers that during the period of the Japanese occupation, the Japanese would come every year to worship at their Shinto shrines. They'd order aboriginal youths to pick trifoliate jewelvine, which would be ground up and dumped in the river. Poisoned zacco and other fish could be seen from the upper stretches of the Chingshui to the mouth of the Hsiukuluan.

Teeming with life, the river also had a remarkably active course--which has changed from being bounded by steep U-shaped canyons to having a wide and shallow river bed. Ordinarily this process occurs over the course of thousands of years and cannot be observed in a human lifetime. But the Chingshui has had a new incarnation in only two decades.

From Yuli upstream, "the river channel today is twice as wide as it was 15 years ago," says Lin Wu-lang, who works for the Yuli Work Station of the Forestry Bureau, while sitting in a jeep that seems almost to be jumping as it bumps along the Chingshui's river bed. Wherever one turn is are small and large chunks of rock being continually pushed down stream. When piles of them block the way, the water spills in all directions, washing away the river banks. Hence, the earth and rocks, after becoming loosened, are continuously collapsing.

A Murky River? A Dry River? Now the rainy season is bringing rock and sand rumbling down like the cavalry, and the downstream stretches of the Chingshui are full of sand and mud, making the river hundreds of times more turbid than the Lele, a naturally "murky river." In Changliang borough of Yuli township, there are over 146,000 square yards of rice paddies irrigated with river water from where the Chingshui and Lele meet. Because of the sand and mud in the Chingshui, two irrigation water inlets have been buried under the bed of the river. "Only one is left, and the dredger has to be there at all times, ready to clear it of mud," says Chang Chih-chao of the Yuli Work Station of the Hualien Irrigation Association. In six or seven years, some NT$20 million has been spent on dredging fees.

Today the river will be dry for a period only to flood shortly thereafter. If there's rain, the water will arrive so fast that the banks will suddenly overflow. The Chingshui dike, on the right bank of the lower Chingshui, has been cut up by floods three years running. But the river dries up after a few days without rain, and during the dry season, even a small trickle of a stream is too much to ask for. The Chingshui river dries up at times like this and the catching of fish and shrimp has become a lost art along its banks. "The river is already hydrologically dead--there's simply no way to stop it," says Chang Chih-chao. "We should have given up long ago."

While the Chingshui has gone from being a small clear stream to being a "raging river," the Lele River has taken the same path it has since time immemorial.

Renewable Resource: People who visit Yuli notice that the families there all raise a fish neither colorful nor of interesting shape. Differing markedly from the colorful tropical fish raised by people on the west coast, these fish are in fact Varicorhinus alticorpus, a species unique to Taiwan, that have been pulled out of the Lele River. Although there are regulations against keeping rare species, the conservation laws have to adapt to "local needs and possibilities." "Just cast a line in the Lele, and you're bound to catch one," says a Yuli resident. The director of the Nanan Station of the Yushan National Park Administration confirms that the river has lots of Varicorhinus alticorpus.

In the Nanan Valley, which lies at the side of the Lele river, there is a nursery for raising stout camphor trees managed by the Forest Bureau's Yuli work station, where you can see Formosa Blue Magpies, rock monkeys and muntjac from time to time. "Wild boars often break down the fence," says Wu Chen-jung, of the Yuli station staff. Animals going down to the river to drink pass by here.

People also are relying on the river's water more and more. Now not only has Changliang built a dike for irrigation, but several boroughs in Yuli township on the east bank of the Hsiukuluan River also rely on drawing water from the Lele to supplement their irrigation water during the dry season.

The Lele is one of three rivers in Hualien County with enough water power for a hydroelectric plant. Downstream of the Luming nursery of Chohsi rural township, along the lower stretches of the river, the current is very rapid. "Canoeing is just as exciting here as it is on the Hsiukuluan River," says Wu, who seems not to have had enough of it.

The Old Home Town Changes: The Chingshui river was also once teeming with life. How is it that in a short time, it has all been used up, and the river has been declared "hydrologically dead?"

One hundred and fifty years ago when the camphor industry earned a reputation as the "world's best"--a first for Taiwan--the Chingshui River contributed much of its virgin stout camphor forests along both banks. But the large-scale felling of the forests didn't begin until the era of the Japanese occupation, when the Chingshui and Changliang forest roads were completed, connecting upstream areas of the river. And the forests were the source of the water. With its environment disturbed, the Chingshui began to walk the road to death.

In the 1960s the government struggled to obtain foreign exchange. Under a policy of forcefully pursuing industrial development, record numbers of trees were cut. In 1960 the Yuli Forest District Office was established, and the forest compartments upstream continued to send down such top-grade conifers as red spruce and cypress and such broad-leaved trees as the Nanmu and Formosan Michelia.

The boss of the Hsiehho mill, Chiou Hsien-tsung, remembers that in the 1950s and 60s each forest compartment would be given an area of about 200 hectares and a hundred workers. Around 10,000 cubic meters of forest would be cut in a year. "There would be as many as 10 or 20 workers just responsible for maintaining the roads," he recalls. Almost all of Yuli's laborers of that era worked in the forests and the river was often full of floating logs. "When we were little, we'd go down to the river, pick out a log and ride it to our homes by the Hsiukuluan," says Wu Chen-jung.

From What's on the Land to What's Under It: Truck after truck and train after train of logs would head north out of Yuli to Hualien, where the lumber would be shipped to the west coast or abroad. It went on like this for 20 years until the 1970s--when Taiwan's economy started booming and agriculture gradually took a back seat to industry. In Yuli the trucks hauling lumber were replaced by those hauling serpentine from the quarries.

In the sixties, the east coast had already began exporting marble and ornamental rocks. Most of the rock used for the Ocean Park of Okinawa originated here. Even more resistant to acid than marble and highly prized in furniture, serpentine did not have the good fortune to avoid this second assault, and the serpentine along the Chingshui River was picked clean.

"The river bed was our quarry. We just picked the serpentine we wanted, then lifted it and transported it away." Local residents remember vividly the Chioupao Company, which made the savvy move of applying to mine here first. "Without spending anything, they became rich overnight," say Yuli residents unanimously.

The Days of Prosperity: When the stone downstream was exhausted, the miners went upstream. In 1971, 16 mining companies applied to begin mining the 1500 hectares of Chingshui valley. "At the peak, there were 300 to 400 miners digging in the Chingshui valley and 30 trucks that could each hold 30 tons of rock," says Liu Bao-ching, a supervisor of mining there. In the 20 years since, three-fifths of the serpentine mined in Taiwan has come from this valley.

As lumber and rock were being pulled out of the Chingshui area in full force, the chief residential center of the area, Yuli, which had been a simple little town, prospered to become the east coast's lumber center and third largest city after Hualien and Taitung.

Chen Ching-chi, secretary of Yuli Town Hall, points out that at the peak--after the mining was in full swing but before the logging had gone -- the town had a population of 70,000, twice the current figure. At the time, there was a large population of outsiders, including buyers for lumber companies of Taichung, Kaohsiung and elsewhere. In order to make it convenient for the businessmen who came to negotiate, a branch of the Land Bank was also established there, based at the tiny Yuli train station. "There were more than 20 hotels and dozens and dozens of rickshaws," notes Lin Shou-chang, who runs the 100-year-old Pusheke hotel.

Unconquerable Mountain: In this time of glory for the Chingshui River and Yuli, all was quiet by the Lele. It certainly wasn't that the river lacked natural resources--the middle and upstream stretches of the Lele abound in precious lumber, and the Taiwan Provincial Bureau of Mines discovered abundant deposits of white marble in Walami, along the middle stretches of the river. Thirteen companies applied to mine there and were itching to go.

The development of the Lele can in fact be traced back to the Ching Dynasty. Liu Ming-chuan, in order to connect the east and west coasts, dispatched a high ranking military officer, Wu Kuang-liang, to lay the eastern portions of the ancient Patungkuan road along the Lele River. During the era of Japanese occupation, the Japanese also built the Patungkuan security road in order to control the local aborigines. But the river flows by an untamed mountain wilderness. When one adds to this dangerously wead geology and topography, the challenges to opening a road are great. Only a simple foot path leads into the area now. While the deposits some 30 kilometers from roads grabbed the miners' attention, there was no way they could transport the stone out, and hence the area around the Lele remained in its original wild state.

In 1977 the Taiwan Highway Bureau planned a new Cross Island Highway, the eastern portion of which would follow the mid and upstream sections of the Lele, running from Tafen to Walami to Yuli. Not only were many people in Yuli pleased that the new road would make transportation even more convenient, but many also looked upon the Lele as a door on a whole new land, through which one could enter at will. Hence, there were great expectations for the deposits at Walami, and the mining industry was ecstatic, eager to start.

Dead End: Fortunately, things did not go as expected. In 1985 Yushan National Park Administration was established, and to preserve its ecology and historic sites (the Patungkuan ancient road and ancient aboriginal areas) the Lele River area from Walami upstream was made part of the national park. In accordance with an assessment made by China Engineering Consultants, the Yushan National Park Administration decided that the land was unstable and liable to frequently collapse along the 50 odd kilometers of the planned cross-island route from Yuli to Tafen. The maintenance costs, they determined, were high and the economic value low. In addition, opening the road would damage nature in ways that would be impossible to amend. A report by the Department of Zoology of National Taiwan University commissioned by the park pointed out that great varieties of wildlife exist in the area between the Lele River and Hsinkang Mountain, including such mammals as the Muntjac and the Mikado Pheasant. The two banks of the river are home to such rare species of bird as the Maroon Oriole, the Black Eagle and the Mikado Pheasant. Building the road would create two separate wildlife communities, endangering propagation. After much consideration, the National Park requested a new appraisal of the risks of building a road, and construction was temporarily halted 14.5 kilometers out of Yuli.

In their development so far, the Chingshui and Lele rivers have met completely different fates.

The Social Value Is Totally Lost: At the end of the 1970s, forest policies were revised and the logging industry declined with the revisions. In the face of competition from imported stone, quarries also hit hard times in the eighties. Yuli now has only one lumber mill that cuts imported logs, and "there are only five or six hotels left of any size," says Lin Shou-chang, who runs the Pusheke.

Now that all the prosperity has left Yuli, the Chingshui, once a river that made it hard for people to leave, has not only lost its economic value but has also lost its "social value"--its value as a natural resource of the nation.

After so many years of heavy cutting in the forest, the Chingshui River has been seriously weakened, and the droughts and floods have been unending ever since. The added wounds made by the mining--the fact that the industry paid no attention to the techniques used--has added to the ecological disaster.

Because serpentine is characteristically scattered, it was necessary to open up the mountain to find the deposits. The domestic industry never got beyond the bomb-the-mountain-dig-the-mountain method. "They'd start with the lower slopes and dig until the whole mountain collapsed," said Liu Pao-ching. Although the Mining Industry Safety Inspection Association requested that miners take water and soil preservation measures and build retaining walls and dumps for the mining debris, in the Chingshui Farm these guidelines were totally neglected.

Yuli Flood Plain: At the beginning, miners applied to the Forestry Bureau to rent the land, and then the military transferred authority to the Taiwan Garrison Command for a criminal rehabilitation facility there, the Chingshui Farm, and the Taiwan Provincial Bureau of Mines was given responsibility for safety inspections. With control exercised by different agencies and the remoteness of the mines, mining safety laws were hard to enforce and the mining companies had free reign to interpret the law as they saw fit.

"Everyone was always behind with the digging," frankly states Liu Pao-ching, who worked in the Chingshui mines for many years. "Where was there time for retaining walls?" In the past, the miners would dump the debris into the river and would never proceed with replanting. "Fields downstream became submerged with the debris dumped by the miners," says Wu Chen-jung.

According to the registration book of the Taiwan Provincial Bureau of Mines, currently eight mining companies are working the Chingshui Farm, and every year they take out 70-80,000 tons. The last mining permit expires in 1995. "Yuli residents have met with great misfortune!" says the driver of the Forest Development Department who lives in Yuli and has seen with his own eyes the bare mountain of haphazard rock piles and heard with his own ears the sounds of blasting and rocks falling. He can't help but be concerned for himself.

"If one takes the estimate of 1.5 tons of sand and rocks for every cubic meter, several hundred million tons of erosion occurred in the middle and upper stretches of the river over the last few decades," says Huang Jui-hsiang, a native son of the east coast who is extremely concerned about the condition of the Chingshui ecology. The downstream river bed of the Chingshui is six or seven meters higher than it was 20 years ago and is now higher than Yuli. This makes Yuli a huge flood plain.

No Eggs for Yuli? Every year for the last three years, during the spring planting season, ducks have entered the rice paddies beside the Chingshui and Hsiukuluan Rivers in search of food. Farmers angry about trampled crops have set up flags and bird-catching nets and set off firecrackers -- exhausting themselves in the effort.

But in their anger, they don't realize that the source of their problems is yet again the destruction of the Chingshui. The erosion along the upper Chingshui, which is a tributary of the Hsiulukuan, has washed downstream.

The changes have destroyed the Hsiukuluan's shoreline water plant ecologies. Thus, the ducks that live on the river have suddenly lost their protection. "This is why the ducks are invading the paddy fields," says Hsu Pao-hsiung of the Hualien Agricultural Improvement Farm, who has performed a study on the matter.

Botanists are worried that the Chingshui poses another lurking threat to farmers. Because the coal content of serpentine is high, the ashes and dust that result from mining are carried down and enter the soil, posing a public hazard. Lien Hung-te measured the productivity of his fields, comparing those irrigated with water from the Lele to those irrigated with water from the Chingshui. In one crop, a hectare of the fields watered with the Lele's water could produce as much as 10,000 Taiwanese pounds of rice. Fields irrigated with water from the Chingshui, on the other hand, could only produce 6-7,000 Taiwanese pounds in the same area.

"You could say that the hens of Yuli do not lay eggs, and all we're left with is their droppings," says Chen Ching-chi indignantly. The lumbering and mining were done so the central authorities could collect tax, and the natural resources of Yuliwere emptied. "We didn't get any of the tax money to improve the place." And the economic boom that was brought along by the wave of people during the logging boom disappeared like sand castles in the surf with the industry's decline.

By Never Touching the Capital, the Interest Lasts Forever: The fate of the Chingshui is an example of how irresponsible pursuit of money can do irreparable damage to natural resources.

Let's look at that other river, the Lele. Because of the difficulties posed by its geography and topography and its recent inclusion in a national park, it is temporarily out of the reach of development. But there is much support in Yuli for building a road and opening the area up to mining. "I fear that sooner or later the movement for developing the wilderness will win out," pessimistically predicts Chiou Hsien-ming, a local reporter for the Liberty Times who founded the "I Love Yuli Workshop."

"In fact it's really quite obvious--there are only two ways to go," says Wu Chen-yu, the director of the Nanan station of the Yushan National Park. One road is the short-term profits of development that will lead to an ending like the Chingshui's--where nothing is left. And the other leaves the wilderness of mountains and river as it was--lush and pristine for eternity. Currently, the National Park has planned a downstream recreational area and a "Patungkuan Footpath." Tourists will be able to take day trips there and then return to stay in Yuli.

But if cars can pass through on a new cross-island highway, people will just drive through, passing Yuli in an instant. "It's like when the southern cross-island highway was built," he says. "At first everyone at the eastern starting point of Haituan was vigorously in favor of opening the road, thinking that people would be able to get to Taitung in only an hour, but since then the city has been in gradual decline."

Don't Let the Lele Become the Chingshui: Because of the dangers posed by the topography of the Lele River valley, it is thought that a road would be closed half of the time for repairs--thus eliminating the transportation advantages--whereas the damage to the water and the land would not be lessened. Some hold that if the best construction techniques were used, damage to the soil and water could be overcome. "First of all we want to see if there will be suitable economic benefits," says Chang Shih-chiao, a geography professor at NTU who is deeply concerned about the development of the river. Secondly, building roads and mining are structural activities. By examining past experiences and using current techniques, one can predict the results of construction in such a sensitive area. In addition, the by-products of civilization--the litter, fumes and polluted water--would be outside anyone's control. "The negative effects would be inevitable and impossible to make amends for once done!" Since the mining only benefits a small number of people, he holds that the heavy social costs make it "a losing proposition." "And the biggest losers of all would be our children and grandchildren."

Even if the final policy decision is for development, will people learn from the experience of the Chingshui to prevent once again the violent raping of the land?

Will the Lele River become another Chingshui River? And will Yuli thus be wiped off the map? It is time to test the wisdom of the people of this generation.

[Picture Caption]

A view of the Lele River stretching off in the distance where it converges with the Chingshui River near the village of Choching.

Area of Yushan National Park

Because of excessive logging and mining, the Chingshui Valley is given to landslides.

Destroyed by flooding, the hydrology observation station was moved from the shore of the river to the river bed.

The Forestry Bureau has announced a "100 Year Tree Plan" for the Chingshui Valley. (Left) Workers are measuring the distance between shoots in a mixed forest. Personnel from the Forestry Bureau who have come up the mountain to check on the speed of tree planting are eating with workers in their hut, exchanging thoughts about the planting of trees.

Surrounded by rivers and mountains, the township of Yuli now faces the danger of flooding because of the transformation of the Chingshui River.

In 1976, floods washed away Changliang and Kecheng--their good fields and villages. In the temple to the local deity on water resources land, the people of Yuli have laid bricks in the shape of the character for water. From time to time they will offer incense and pray that the floods won't come again.

The fields by the side of the Hsiukuluan in Yuli have also been affected -- at times being submerged by water or invaded by ducks.

Sand and rocks have plugged up the water inlets, and the Irrigation Association has built a simple dike so as to draw in water from the Lele River for irrigation.

Because of large-scale logging, the city became the logging center for the HualienTaitung area.

With logging and mining in decline, Yuli has become once again a small town with a declining population.

 

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