To the editor:
The day the Journal-World reported that only 50 acres of the Wakarusa Wetlands would be “damaged” in the construction of the South Lawrence Trafficway (Oct. 20, 2012), I went for a memorial walk. As I walked, I thought of the infinite number of lives which would be disturbed and destroyed by the construction of the SLT— animal, reptile, insect — and I thought of the damage that would be done to the web of life that had been created over centuries: a web involving life forms from bacteria to beavers to trees. I thought, too, of the memories of Haskell people about this place and the memories of countless other Lawrencians, who came to the wetlands to learn and replenish their souls. I grieved that, as a community, we were not only losing a significant, natural treasure, which these wetlands are, but also that we are perhaps losing our respect for life itself.
Returning to the wetlands entrance, I was glad to see six cars lined up, signifying that others had come to enjoy this special place. I was glad to believe that perhaps a day might come when we could recognize, as recently did the people of New Zealand, that a natural place might actually be acknowledged as having legal and personal rights. On Sept. 17, 2012, New Zealand’s Whanganui River was given a legal identity so that it will be recognized as a person “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests.”