Letters to the Editor

Wetland wildlife

October 17, 2009


To the editor:

In his Oct. 10 letter to the editor, Mike Ford kindly gives us his opinion as to why the South Lawrence Trafficway won’t be built on the 32nd Street alignment. His “facts,” of course, are purely speculations and wishful thinking.

At the end of his letter the writer asks, “Where are the animals in these ‘new’ wetlands?” He states that he drives by the restoration site weekly and apparently has not seen any. He also claims that the “new” wetlands must not be working based on his observations.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determines how to identify a wetlands, and it is based on plants, soil and water. Wildlife are not included because they move around; they aren’t reliable indicators of wetlands. For example, we had 85 Canada goose goslings appear at the site in May and stay until they fledged in July. None hatched there, but their parents walked them to the site from other locations. As I drive to our project office (1365 N. 1250 Road) every day I nearly always see a great blue heron or great egret, and at least one species of duck or goose. Perhaps Mr. Ford needs to slow down or actually stop and look around.

Since the project was started in Sept. 2008 we have recorded 147 species of birds on the site. On Oct. 12 we conducted our most recent bird survey and recorded 39 species and 2,660 individuals. Contrary to the writer’s wishes, the wildlife is there and the new wetlands are functioning very well, especially for being less than 1 year old.


Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Less than one year old is by no means an accurate measure for the long term. Geese seem to go just about anywhere such as 95th and Metcalf in Overland Park..... geese are bold creatures. Herons are seemingly brave as well.

Man-Made Wetlands Falling Short

Posted by: Christian Peralta Madera Thanks to: Julie Black 16 May 2007 - 1:00pm

Many man-made wetland areas perform poorly compared to the original habitat they are designed to replace.

"A 2,000-year-old American Indian ceremonial center is an unusual place for a lesson on replacing Ohio's wetlands that have been lost to development.

But for two Dayton-based Ohio Environmental Protection Agency scientists, a series of wetlands that host wildlife in the shadow of ancient embankments are a perfect illustration of how long it can take for a natural habitat to be created.

The process of creating a wetland is at the core of a brewing debate on man-made wetland construction projects undertaken in the past 15 years, largely funded by developers to compensate the state for bulldozing natural wetlands. The wetlands, OEPA scientists said, have performed poorly. The proposed remedy — tougher standards on the created wetlands — will likely hit Ohio developers of residential and commercial properties in the pocketbook." Full Story: OEPA proposes tighter control over new wetlands

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

In order to increase the quantity, diversity, quality and productivity of the nation's wetlands:

  1. Public incentives to wetlands degradation should be removed, including tax benefits for development or conversion, financial assistance (e.g., disaster insurance) for building or rebuilding in flood-prone areas or on hydric soils, agricultural commodity supports for surplus crops using inefficient and environmentally damaging means of production, government-financed water resource development, irrigation, drainage, channelization, infrastructure construction, and other direct and indirect subsidies.

  2. Public incentives for wetland protection should be extended, including tax benefits, transfer of development rights to upland areas that are not adjacent to wetlands, conservation easements, and other permanent protective designations for privately owned wetlands.

  3. Public and private agencies and trusts should acquire wetlands for preservation, management, research, and education. This effort should entail a program for identifying prime endangered wetlands and their designation for acquisition and protection. Preference should be given to their preservation as multipurpose ecosystems, rather than dedication and manipulation for limited purposes (e.g., waterfowl or aquaculture production). Publicly owned wetlands must be guaranteed full and permanent protection.

  4. We support establishment and strengthening of federal, state, and local programs for planning, management, and regulation of human activities that affect wetlands. Agencies whose charge is the protection of natural resources and the environment should be designated as having the lead or an equal-partner role in these programs. These programs must be adequately funded and staffed to provide ongoing inventory, research, surveillance, enforcement, and education. Provision must be made for public participation in all phases of these programs, as well as for full accountability by the public agencies.

  5. Nationally, a commitment to the rebuilding and restoration of wetlands should be undertaken in order to improve their capacity to perform their ecological functions of pollution, erosion, and flood control and support for fish and wildlife. Research, education, and action programs should be initiated with funding from public revenues and private monies. The responsibility for coordinating restoration sites and activities, including the beneficial uses of dredge spoil, should be assigned to the appropriate agencies charged with environmental and natural resource protection. Publicly financed restoration activities should in the first instance benefit publicly owned wetlands, but insofar as all wetlands constitute a public asset, public incentives and technical assistance should be extended to private landowners to encourage wetlands restoration.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Sprawl Costs Us All

Suburban sprawl has been rightly blamed for many things: destroying green space, increasing air and water pollution, fracturing our neighborhoods and forcing us to drive gridlocked roads for every chore. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - sprawl is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Sprawl is the result of over five decades of subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads as well as smaller ones-like the tax-breaks that encourage businesses to move to the edge of town. We've subsidized sprawl at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of sprawling development.

How we subsidize sprawl:

  • building new and wider roads
  • building schools on the fringe
  • extending sewer and water lines to sprawling development
  • extending emergency services to the fringe
  • direct pay-outs to developers

Through an array of state, local and federal programs-and through incentives built into the develop-ment process itself. The biggest contribution to sprawl is the billions of dollars spent on building new roads. Over the past 50 years, we have built almost 4 million miles of highways. This massive network of roads has done more than speed us from point A to point B - it has reshaped the landscape by opening up rural areas to suburban development and it has reshaped our society by making the car king.

Other federal programs are also encouraging sprawl. For years we have subsidized construction in flood plains while making it far too easy to destroy critical wetlands.

The growth of suburban sprawl, though aided by federal spending, is also the product of decisions at the state and local levels. The corporate enticement game-played by everyone from governor to county supervisor-encourages commercial development far from cities and towns.

Over the past few decades, corporations have become increasingly skilled at playing one community against another in an effort to wrest greater perks from state and local governments. Big-box retailers and isolated business parks are unwittingly subsidized by our own tax dollars.

Sprawl subsidies are also built into the development process itself. Most new, sprawling development costs more to build and service than the taxes or fees it generates.

When a new residential or commercial development is built outside of an existing community, roads, sewer systems and water lines have to be built. Where does the money for all this come from? In most cases, neither the developers nor the new residents pay their full, fair share - it is the rest of us who make up the difference. The bottom line is that new development is costing us money.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Flood Protection

Wetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters.

Trees, root mats, and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters and distribute them more slowly over the floodplain.

This combined water storage an braking action lowers flood heights and reduces erosion.

Wetlands within and downstream of urban areas are particularly valuable, counteracting the greatly increased rate and volume of surface- water runoff from pavement and buildings. The holding capacity of wetlands helps control floods and prevents water logging of crops.

Preserving and restoring wetlands, together with other water retention, can often provide the level of flood control otherwise provided by expensive dredge operations and levees.

The bottomland hardwood- riparian wetlands along the Mississippi River once stored at least 60 days of floodwater. Now they store only 12 days because most have been filled or drained.

Reference: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1995b. America's wetlands: Our vital link between land and water. Office of Water, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. EPA843-K-95-001.

Wetlands: Protecting Life and Property from Flooding (PDF) (4 pp, 286K, About PDF)

Executive Order 11988: Floodplain Management - an order given by President Carter in 1977 to avoid the adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of floodplains.

Jean1183 8 years, 6 months ago

Just last week, I saw a flock of ducks in the new wetlands.

When the "old" wetlands were not wetlands (30 years ago), I drove past them and didn't see ducks. There was no water for them to swim in. Actually, it was a cornfield.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

It's nice to know that we get something (a LTE) from Roger for the $8 million and change he and Baker are getting for transferring the one-time and ill-gotten Haskell Wetlands to KDOT.

cowboy 8 years, 6 months ago

Amazing the knucklehead brothers weighing in on the new wetlands , the habitation of the "newer" wetlands should be something you praise as committed environmentalists yet you criticize and discount . Goes to show ya the wetlands are not that special , that any watershed will attract animals and also that your motives are simply to stop a roadway and not the improvement or enlargement of habitat.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

"Amazing the knucklehead brothers weighing in on the new wetlands ,"

One of your best NIMBY arguments yet, cowboy.

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