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Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Wetland history

June 26, 2001

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To the editor

I read with interest your Saturday Column on the southwest trafficway. The wetlands are not, as stated in the commentary, a "recent manmade feature." About 1920, Haskell Institute laid tile to drain the wetlands in an attempt to have farmland for training students in agriculture.

During the '20s and '30s I lived southeast of Lawrence and used the north-south road (now 1500 E Road) to get to Lawrence. It had deep ditches on either side that were always filled with water. At some time the roadbed was raised to keep it above the water, just as 31st street was raised later.

The road at 35th street, as seen in old maps, was often closed because of deep mud. It was finally abandoned. The Haskell farmland was frequently too wet to be worked. In time Haskell Institute gave up the idea of farming the land. Clinton Dam dried up the area somewhat but it was still naturally wetland despite the drainage tiles.

According to Roger Boyd, Ph.D., during 1990 Baker University began restoring the wetlands to its natural state. That is the "manmade" part. The tiles were plugged and other steps taken to enhance the area. Our grandsons were fortunate to be in Roger Boyd's Boy Scout troop when they boys built the walkway so one can walk into the wetland even when it is a shallow lake. This wonderful wildlife refuge and nature park is worthy of saving.

The completed section of the bypass ends at 35th Street. Why not locate the bypass at least as far south as 35th Street and keep 31st Street as it is, a major east-west artery for local traffic and an alternative to 23rd Street? This would give us two east-west arteries, one for slow local traffic and the other for limited-access, high-speed, through traffic. Only the latter will relieve 23rd Street, as truck drivers will use the fastest way through Lawrence. Any reduction of the present traffic load on 31st Street will lessen the noise interference to a more acceptable level.

Lucile Paden,

Lawrence

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