To the editor:
Four miles upstream of Riverfront Park's boat ramp, along the east bank of a north/south stretch known locally as the "Wind Tunnel," a long row of Kansas River trees has been destroyed by clear-cut logging.
A huge treeline gap now extends some three-quarters of a mile; only saplings and a few badly damaged trees remain. Beyond both ends of the gap stand forest with trees 60 feet tall - what the gap looked like before it got logged.
Over more than two decades, thousands of American bald eagles used those trees as hunting and basking perches; now they're gone. Worse, for us, those trees were the last line of natural defense protecting the old Lawrence city landfill - a huge dump that lies buried between the logged area and the North Lawrence levee.
If another 1951 or 1993 flood hits, fast-moving water 10 to 15 feet above banktop will sweep into this gap and strip away the buried dump's cap soil. The river could re-channel through the landfill, spewing its contents from North Lawrence to New Orleans.
Is such a calamity possible? Just look five miles west of Wamego where, during the 1993 flood, the Kansas re-channeled across the heel of a huge horseshoe bend.
Riparian forest clear-cut logging menaces our state's river environments; this activity should be outlawed. If our buried dump gets washed out, civil suits and criminal prosecutions targeting the parties responsible for this clear-cut will likely begin flashing from the sky like lightning.