Letters to the Editor

Protect nature

June 18, 2011


To the editor:

During the public comment session during the recent Lawrence City Commission meeting to decide about the fate of the Chapter 16, the proposed environmental chapter to Horizon 2020, a man who opposed the chapter for fear it would limit development said, “We can’t make more land.” The irony of his statement was apparent to all.

Truly, once our natural resources like the Wakarusa Wetlands are paved and contaminated with run-off, they’re gone and the lives they support with them. A recent report by the National Audubon Society just listed 20 common birds that have experienced sharp decline in the last 40 years in direct response to habitat loss. Many of them — the American bittern, common grackle, little blue heron, northern pintail, horned lark, lark sparrow, field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, loggerhead shrike — depend on these particular wetlands in our town.

Rather than building new roads, now is the time to better use and maintain existing roads and prepare for the petroleum-scarce future that surely lies ahead. This will be a time when we will place an even higher value on the rich natural landscapes close to home for recreation, solace, and all we can learn from the beings that live in them.


hujiko 6 years, 10 months ago

Ah, but the irony in your statement, is too, apparent to all.

You do realize the SLT project expands the wetlands, no?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

The expansion of the wetlands restoration is already underway, and no highway has been built there yet.

Which proves that there is absolutely no connection between wetlands restoration and highway building.

I'm surprised that something so obvious escapes your grasp.

notaubermime 6 years, 10 months ago

The restoration underway is part of the mitigation for the SLT. There is nothing that says that the mitigation and road construction must take place simultaneously.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

The link between the two projects is a purely political one, and a rather dishonest one, at that. Each project could be done without doing the other.

If the state wants to save the taxpayers $192 million, don't build the highway.

notaubermime 6 years, 10 months ago

Purely political?! That's not really a very honest assessment of the funding for the wetland restoration.

JustNoticed 6 years, 10 months ago

Why do you display such willful ignorance? Have you no grasp at all of biology, ecology or what an eco-system is?

Joe Hyde 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure there's a practical way to conduct a comparative survey, but I'll bet many more mosquitoes live in Lawrence neighborhoods than live in the Baker Wetlands. Reason being the wetlands is home to more predators that feed heavily on mosquitoes and mosquito larvae -- predators such as dragonflies (both the winged adults and larvae), bats, birds, minnows and fish, ducks, etc.

For mosquitoes, Baker Wetlands is a dangerous place to live.

notaubermime 6 years, 10 months ago

Trap both areas. There are traps which will specifically attract mosquitoes. It will undoubtedly find that there are more mosquitoes in the wetlands. Abundance of water trumps presence of predators.

An abundance of mosquitoes is a good thing for the wetlands. They help to support a number of animal species that are either very rare or completely absent from the rest of the Lawrence area. Anyone who would characterize the wetlands as a mosquito swamp has either never been there, or doesn't know how to find the wetland's interesting inhabitants.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 10 months ago

Ban the internal combustion lawnmowers that are killing the planet! Using them is dumb and irresponsible !!!

kernal 6 years, 10 months ago

Don't even get me started on gas powered leaf blowers. What the heck do people think brooms are for? Riding the night sky?

IdahoWinds 6 years, 10 months ago

"...once our natural resources like the Wakarusa Wetlands are paved and contaminated with run-off, they’re gone and the lives they support with them." I believe it has been Bozo and Merrill that have informed us that the Wakarusa Wetlands used to be 18,000+ acres. That, in deed, is a lot of payment to cover all of those wetlands! I'm thinking that we really don't need to be too concerned about that happening! What we do need to be concerned about is protecting portions of it like the Baker Wetlands, a mere 573 acres of the Wakarusa Wetlands. The concern over the SLT is exaggerated - for one, it will only remove 56 acres of the Baker Wetlands - that's less than 10%. And two, wetlands have evolved to deal with pollution. The portion of the SLT between Kashold and Wakarusa Rd has wetlands on either side and as anyone can see, other than litter, they seem to be doing well. Another thing that Kelly seems to have forgotten is that the SLT will have a12 ft berm & noise wall on either side. Not much pollution will even be able to get into the Baker Wetlands.

IdahoWinds 6 years, 10 months ago

Bozo, How thoughtful of you to point out the obvious - new wetlands but no road, therefore no connection. And you probably want us to believe the $1/2 million or so that Dr. Boyd has spent on the restoration was from the tooth fairy, or maybe he paid for it out of his own pocket? Let's see, what do they call those things that stick their heads in the sand? Haven't been paying attention to the news about T-Works funding the SLT have you? The truth is there are a lot of things that are connected, some subtle, some not so subtle, and you seem to be oblivious to them all. My suggestion is that you keep clinging to the belief that the Court of Appeals will come to your rescue (rather than laugh at you). Power of positive thinking, right?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Basic findings:

  1. Lawrence is overbuilt in housing: Homes were built faster than popualtion growth supporting these homes. Excessive subdivisions caused an outmigration from older neighborhoods causing a severe loss of value, a loss of dwelling units, and a variety of other problems such as school closings.

  2. Lawerence is overbuilt in retail: Stores were built faster than retail spending growth supporting these stores. This excessive growth has hurt the public and private investment in downtown redevelopment (e.g.: the empty $8 million parking garage, the empty Hobbs-Taylor space, etc.) and has caused deterioration and blight in existing shopping centers (e.g.: Tanger Mall, Food-for-Less, etc.)

  3. Douglas County is overbuilt in manufacturing and warehousing; employment in these sectors is declining, not growing. Yet, the Chamber calls for more and more space in the false belief that more supply creates more demand.

  4. Office space in Douglas County is relatively well balanced, but the market for office space is severely crippled by the excessive supply of unused retail space which is competing for office tenants.

Basic strategy:

Lawrence should adopt a policy of "cooling off" the pace of development. Note: This is not a moratoriam; it is a consicous effort to redirect growth to existing neighborhoods and districts where it can be beneficial.

Housing: The city should stop approving new subdivisions until the existing supply of surplus homes is eliminated. It should direct housing investment back into older neighborhoods so as to preserve and protect the existing public and private investment there.

Commercial space: The city should stop approving plans for new commercial space until the existing surplus is eliminated. It should direct investment into the preseration of the downtown and other existing commercial districts so as to preserve and protect the existing publid and private investment there.

Kirk McClure |

KU School of Architecture, Design and Planning KU School of Architecture and Urban Planning


* B. Arch., U. of Kansas, 1973
* B. A., Urban Studies, U. of Kansas, 1974
* Master of City Planning, M.I.T., 1978
* Ph.D., City Planning, U. of California, Berkeley, 1985


* Urban Affairs Association Award for Best Paper Presented, 2004. Annual Conference of the Urban Affairs Association.
* Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Best Research in Housing, 2002, Annual Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
* Fannie Mae Foundation Award for Best Research in Housing, 1997, Annual Conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
* Jack and Nancy Bradley Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1997, School of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Kansas, 1997

roadwarrior 6 years, 10 months ago

That all makes such obvious sense. Responding to the obvious is to accept reality. An unfortunate reality, but a reality all the same. I still cannot believe that the city of Lawrence voted for a higher sales tax to fund an 18 million dollar face lift. But hey, nail care is a billion dollar industry so, what do I know ?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

Green space cost taxpayers nothing! = saves taxpayers money!

“We can’t make more land.” The irony of his statement was apparent to all."

WE Taxpayers can't make more tax dollars available to the tax dollar moochin developer/real estate industry. Developers = new roads,new residential,new demands for new infrastructure = huge demands on tax dollars aka taxpayers = very large budget items for taxpayers.

New development will always increase taxes to existing taxpayers.

Leaving green space as green space cost taxpayers nothing!

Additional development can often cost local governments more money than it generates. Communities will use protection of open spaces as a means to avoid extending sewer lines and build new schools and infrastructure thus avoiding tax increases.

With land conservation generally a whole community benefits because it gives people access to nature. It helps to keep energy costs down, improves the air quality and it can avoid or at least minimize traffic congestion.

Leaving green space as green space cost taxpayers nothing!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 10 months ago

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned. Local expansion is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh yeah, reckless copy/pasting is also killing the planet. And the no-growth people too.

Liberty275 6 years, 10 months ago

All roads have storm drains of some sort. I would imagine the storm drain in the wetlands will be a closed system and shed no water nor contaminants on the surrounding wetland.

That's about a million times better than what we have with all the traffic going down 23rd and contaminating the mudhole portion at the east end very badly.

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

Transit agency to delay site development decision

Salt Lake City, Utah (AP) 4-09

The Utah Transportation Authority will delay a decision on a proposal to develop a south Salt Lake valley commuter rail stop, shopping center and housing until more study can be done on the area, an attorney said.

UTA attorney Bruce Jones said the decision comes after UTA officials met with state regulators and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We will decide on the site not by a (certain) date, but after this process of investigation is completed sufficiently that we think we have not only we, but also the state and federal agencies involved a sufficient understanding of what we think the site is in order to make a decision,” Jones said.

Archaeologists believe artifacts found on the 250-acre site between Interstate 15 and the Jordan River are evidence of a 3,000-year-old Native American tribe.

It’s unclear if UTA’s investigation plans will include a full excavation of the site.

Archaeologists have studied the area three times and have excavated fire pits, a house and part of a second house, along with other artifacts.

Assistant state archaeologist Ron Rood says there’s still work to be done at the site and hopes UTA will seek a different location for its project.

Rood said those who live on the site had a diet of plants, grass seeds, cattails, rice grass, yuccas, pine nuts, rabbits, deer and big horn sheep. They also did not use pottery or make tools from metal.

“We recovered lots and lots of their cooking stones and rocks that they would have used for cooking food,” Rood said.

A chemical analysis of the tools found help archaeologists make a groundbreaking discovery: The inhabitants experimented with farming corn.

“We don’t really see corn being used by prehistoric folks until roughly 2,000 years ago, or 1,000 years after this site was occupied,” he said. “It has the potential to add some really cool information about early agriculture in the Great Basin.”

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

Indian stones force changes to Massachusetts airport plans

Archaeology/Remains - Sites Uncovered/Locations

Montague, Massachusetts (AP) 1-09

Federal officials have ruled that stones discovered in the path of the planned runway expansion at Turners Falls Municipal Airport are part of an Indian “sacred ceremonial hill.”

The Recorder of Greenfield reports Jan. 6 that the ruling by the National Register means the airport will have to revise its plans.

The $5 million expansion plans have been on hold since 2007 while the Federal Aviation Administration awaited a ruling on the stones. The FAA contended they were from a 19th century stone wall.

John Brown, tribal historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Tribe, says the ruling confirms what he already knew.

Airport Manager Michael Sweeney says plans to add 1,000 feet of runway will be re-designed so the stones are not disturbed.

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

Rhode Island housing project thwarted by Narragansett burial area

Archaeology/Remains - Sites Uncovered/Locations

Charlestown, Rhode Island (AP) 10-09

Plans for an elderly housing complex in Charlestown have been abandoned after an Indian burial ground and other archaeological finds were discovered on the site.

Jeff Gofton, director of the Washington County Development Corp., tells The Sun of Westerly that the proposed 20 units must be approved by the end of this month to a site that is cleared for development.

Given the recent discovery, there’s not enough time to satisfy that requirement.

Alan LeVeillee, a senior archaeologist at the Public Archaeological Lab, discovered the Narragansett cemetery during a survey on Sept. 11.

LeVeillee said he determined that the site, by law, required further study before it could be used for the affordable housing project.

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

Discovery of Indian sites could delay southwest Va. project

Archaeology/Remains - Sites Uncovered/Locations

Bluefield, Virginia (AP) 2-08

The discovery of American Indian sites near Bluefield could delay work on a new business, education and recreation center in the southwest Virginia city.

The native artifacts were found near the 680-acre site of the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park, where initial work was to begin in March on the multifaceted development.

Project manager Rick Chitwood said the start of work could be set back a few months while a study is conducted then sent to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Center will include a workforce training center, offices, hotels and a conference center. It will also have retail stores, residential units and a nine-hole golf course.

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

Burial site could be threatened by OC toll road extension

Archaeology/Remains - Sites Uncovered/Locations

San Clemente, California (AP) 8-07

Fearing ancient burial ground could be spoiled, the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians wants the California Coastal Commission to stop a 16-mile extension of the 241 toll road.

The burial site straddling the San Diego and Orange County line abuts the planned Foothill South toll road extension, where Juaneno ancestors lived 4,000 years ago in an ancient Acjachemen Nation village called Panhe. “To Indian people, we go to these places because they’re our Vatican, our Mecca,” said Rebecca Robles, a member of the Juaneno band.

The Juanenos plan to ask coastal commissions in October for a halt to toll road extension plans.

The extension will run from Oso Parkway to Interstate 5 at San Onofre State Beach. The village site is on the state Native American Heritage Commission’s register of sacred sites.

The village is long gone, but the site is frequently used as a gathering area for Native Americans and human remains found in Orange and San Diego counties have been reburied there.

Patricia Martz, an anthropology professor at California State University, Los Angeles, and president of the California Cultural Resource Preservation Alliance, said toll road planners omitted Panhe’s sacred status in its environmental planning documents.

“If you were to compare this road to other projects, it has been the most studied road in the state, if not the nation,” Lance MacLean, a Mission Viejo councilman who chairs the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency that manages the 241 toll road.

The proposed toll road extension “was specifically designed to avoid the densest of archaeological sites” and avoid known or suspected burial areas, added Jennifer Seaton, a spokeswoman for the Irvine-based Transportation Corridor Agencies.

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

Bridge project on hold after discovery of possible Indian site 5-6-07

Archaeology/Remains - Sites Uncovered/Locations

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) - A bridge project that officials plan to use as a key link in redeveloping Bellingham's waterfront has been put on hold because of the discovery of possible Indian settlement remains.

Seashells were found during drilling that is part of preliminary engineering work for the project to build a bridge along Laurel Street, Public Works Director Dick McKinley said.

The shells could be part of a midden - a heap of shells such as those that commonly accumulated around ancient settlements where people ate lots of clams and other mollusks. Federal law protects such sites, which can also contain the bones of ancient inhabitants.

City officials hope to begin building the bridge next year, to maintain access to the waterfront while other bridges are replaced so railroad tracks can be relocated. The presence of an ancient village site with human remains could stop the project.

For now, more research will be done to determine whether the shells are part of a midden. “We don't know yet what it really means for sure,” McKinley said.

In 2004, the remains of hundreds of people were found at an ancient village site in Port Angeles, where the state Department of Transportation was building a graving dock to make parts for rebuilding the Hood Canal floating bridge.

The discovery eventually prompted the state to abandon the site and write off more than $50 million it had already spent.

McKinley said he doesn't think Bellingham will face anything that drastic, but wants the issue resolved before moving forward.

“I still think were going to build the Laurel Street Bridge,” he said. “I wouldn't bet $10 million on it, however.”

The city has contacted the Lummi, Nooksack and Samish tribes about the find.

Samish Tribe chairman Tom Wooten said he was glad the city is taking the issue seriously and working with the tribal governments.

The Port Angeles episode was an “extreme example,” and even if a midden is present, it may be possible to resolve tribal concerns without stopping the project, he said.

If the bridge cannot be built as planned, McKinley said the city could still figure out a way to provide waterfront access using other routes.

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

I have just given you six different examples of other people trying to railroad projects on Indian tribes across this country. You deny our history in a dismissive manner your Corps of Engineers denies our history in a dismissive manner. Its al about diminishing the 800 pound gorilla in the room to the point where you can snow these people with this whole win win bs of expanded wetlands. when and if you build this road and if it goes along 32nd and when bones and artifacts are found if some highway worker doesn't dispose of them to save his job you will be forced to walk away from this project and build it south of the river as you should've done from the beginning. We fight these fights across the country. we know how you are. thirteen years and counting....

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

let me take a stab at your ignorance. your christian nation was founded on many tribes lands. your us government has done a half a$$ed job of forced assimilation on indigenous lands making it illegal from the 1880's to the 1970's to speak tribal languages and practice religious rights. your us constitution has a first amendment does it not? we have rights under the first amendment also since we've been us citizens since 1924. we didn't have to bring some imported religion from europe or the middle east. we are tied to specific areas where our people were before your ancestors got here. If we're Lakota we consider the Black Hills sacred, as do the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples. Many tribes consider the Medicine Wheel in Wyoming sacred. The Caddo people considered Caddo Lake in Louisiana where I grew up sacred. The Choctaw people consider the Nunih Waiya Mound sacred in Mississippi.

A century ago your race thought of us as barbaric and savage and pagan like. bear in mind there were over 600 languages here before your beloved english. boarding schools were built all over Indian Country in places like Carlisle, PA, Tomah, WI, Pipestone, MN, Toledo, IA, Genoa, NE, Chilocco, OK, Riverside, OK, Intermountain, UT, Chemawa, OR, and Haskell. Kids were taken from parents for a decade and europeanized. nothing but english and nothing but christianity. the people who resisted this ignorant practice went to the wetlands to remember who they were before the white people gave them white names and cut their hair and beat them and molested them as was done at boarding schools in South Dakota. Ask the author Tim Giago about this experience. He's written two books about his boarding school experience. imagine if your kids were taken away so that they couldn't learn about Rush Limbaugh Sean Hannity, or Bill O'Reilly. Imagine if they were forced to be tolerant, educated, and understanding of other people, and taught to be civicly respectful and responsible. You wouldn't want that. what would your fellow cohorts think?

Mike Ford 6 years, 10 months ago

the present mirrors the past. ignorance begats denial. really, return what you stole isn't that what any good christian would do? (HAHAHAHA) what's a good christian? dummies always ignore history kansas pillboy. that's how you make the same mistakes over and over archie bunker.

IdahoWinds 6 years, 10 months ago

I wish to congratulate Tuschie on several excellent comments....until he fell off the wagon into name calling. I can see your point, as I have always seen your point. But the difference between your 6 incidences of discovery and the current proposed alignment of the SLT is that there is no evidence for your claims of American Indian burials. IF every proposed project was stopped because of claims (false or otherwise) that it was an Indian burial or sacred ground, no projects would ever happen(and you would most likely be fine with that). If white culture moves ahead on a project because it does not believe the claim, and that is all it is - a claim without evidence - then white culture is branded "insensitive". One of the reasons there is so much name calling in all of this is that there is no evidence of burials. I would agree that the wetlands are sacred to many in this fight. But I also believe that removing less than 10% of the wetlands hardly destroys the area. The remaining 90% will still be there and will still be intact and still be sacred. Isn't this more about "Not another inch!" than it is about truth and reality?

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