To the editor:
The negative environmental impact of a Clinton Lake resort built on the developer's preferred site, commonly known as Land's End, would be substantial. A mature oak and hickory forest would be bulldozed to make way for a conference center, marina and parking lot. This rugged land, some of the most scenic and natural in the entire state park, is home to a "tame" deer herd as well as bald eagles that regularly perch on tall trees in the winter.
Habitat fragmentation is the leading cause of species extinction worldwide. The piecemeal destruction of wildlife habitat has a cumulative effect. This destruction is linked to economic development and the daily activities of the modern consumer. As such, it often goes unnoticed. Taken alone, the construction of a single dam, suburb or the cutting of a forest might have little impact on a species. However, the accumulated pressures of urban/economic development (and resultant habitat loss), pollution and other byproducts of industrial society are resulting in an accelerating loss of species worldwide.
In the last 11 years, Douglas County lost over 40,000 acres to development -- an area equal to the size of Lincoln, Neb. Almost all of this development was in northern Douglas County, most of which lies in the basin of the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers. Some development destroyed wildlife habitat, and some destroyed productive farmland (think of the placement of Free State High School on approximately 20 acres of some of the richest farmland in the U.S.). Proposed development, such as the South Lawrence Trafficway, has already contributed to the loss of one wildlife habitat (Elkins Prairie) and, if constructed as proposed by the county, would significantly damage the largest wetland in northeastern Kansas.
Once a species is gone, it is gone forever. Unless we act responsibly, our grandchildren will enjoy only a fraction of the variety of plants and animals we now enjoy.
The Clinton Lake Master Plan provides for a resort to be built above the existing marina. This site would have far fewer environmental consequences and the existing marina could be updated and used. The Corps of Engineers and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks should strictly adhere to the existing master plan if a resort is to be built at all to preserve present and future quality of life for all.