A forum attended by 50 people Wednesday resulted in a call for a communitywide effort to oppose building a road through any Douglas County wetlands.
"I want all groups to come together. I want all minds to meet together," Jay Farrell, a Haskell Indian Nations University student, said. "It's not one person. It's not one body. It's the whole community."
Panelists included ecologists and student activists. Their presentations, and comments from the audience, stressed the following points:
- All of the wetlands in the vicinity of 31st Street should be protected as one unit, regardless of who owns the land: Haskell, Baker University, Kansas University or the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
- Panelists urged the audience to submit written comments during a review of the South Lawrence Trafficway's Environmental Impact Statement. A petition circulated after the meeting.
- The wetlands are a treasure trove for wildlife. Roger Boyd, a Baker University biology professor and director of the Baker Wetlands, showed a slide presentation with a sampling of the diverse species that live in the wetlands, including Indian grass, eastern cottontails, Monarch butterflies, leopard frogs, and blue herons.
- Wetlands are a disappearing resource. Bob Eye, an independent candidate for governor, said 90 percent of wetlands have disappeared since 1950.
"It's the salami theory -- just one slice at a time," he said.
The forum had 10 sponsors: the Douglas County Preservation Alliance, Haskell Student Senate, Lawrence Chapter of NOW, Jayhawk Audubon Society, Wakarusa Chapter Sierra Club, Earth We Are of Baker, KU Environs, Kaw Valley Chapter of the Older Women's League, League of Women Voters and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance.