Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Science for hindrance?

September 6, 2001


The discovery of a new type of plant should not further delay installation of the southern trafficway.

A Kansas University botanist is to be congratulated for his role in the discovery of two new species of plants in Kansas.

Caleb Morse and researchers from the University of Michigan and Taylor University combined in locating two sedges, which though rare are not considered endangered. One of the sedges, Morse points out, can be found in the Baker Wetlands, which is a focal point of discussion and contention about completion of the embattled South Lawrence Trafficway.

Immediately upon revelation of the discoveries, anti-trafficway people rejoiced with the notion that still another "rare" item might help their cause. Meanwhile, pro-trafficway citizens groaned at the prospect of an additional element that could further delay completion of the badly needed road.

It bears repeating that the sedge in the wetlands here is not endangered. It is not even "threatened," as was the case with the northern crawfish frog that was one of the early bones of contention with those trying to block the trafficway. The frog in question had not been seen for a long time in the region, and one of the very rare sightings was a flattened amphibian on a roadway where a truck had won a conflict of space.

But the northern crawfish frog became a battle cry and a symbol for the opponents.

It's all well and good for people to be pleased that a KU scientist has been engaged in a plant discovery of note for Kansas. Morse and his comrades are to be commended.

But to add a new, and dubious, element to the list of objections people have about establishment of the trafficway is overkill. It should not be a major consideration in planning any more than a number of the questionable longer-standing issues should be.

The area badly needs the trafficway and the sooner some version of it can be completed, the better off we all will be, including most of those who think the world will be a much worse place because of the trafficway.

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