Letters to the Editor

Letter: Mourning a loss

November 2, 2013


To the editor:

There has been much talk of mitigation regarding the South Lawrence Trafficway. But for those individual animals in the path of the heavy equipment, recreated wetlands and noise buffers won’t prevent the inevitable. Most are going to be crushed or buried alive by fill dirt. As a wildlife rehabilitator and as a fellow being that shares much of their genetic material and fate, this breaks my heart.

As ecologist Joanna Macy has suggested, there are no funerals for ecosystems and for the myriad creatures that inhabit them. Human society has no context for it. But as I’ve also learned from her, because humans are an intimate part of the Earth and because we have evolved the capacity for self-reflection, the anguish I feel in anticipation of construction is, in a very real way, the Earth’s anguish. I and the other humans who mourn this loss are not mourning alone. And, rest assured, we will be going to a funeral.


Brock Masters 2 years, 6 months ago

What is the solution - stop all construction?

I hope you're equally opposed to wind turbines which kill eagles and other birds. I am.

Matthew Herbert 2 years, 6 months ago

I'd be interested in a little more background on the author of this LTE...does this individual live in a home in a residential neighborhood? If so, do you realize you are nestled at night atop the mass grave of an ecosystem yourself? How does the author get to work? Certainly not by driving on ecosystem-killing roads in an environment polluting car? We are all in this climate alteration together Kelly- one man's actions that you detest are hardly different than the actions we all take daily

Kelly Barth 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree Matthew. We are implicit in destruction. However, the more habitat depletion that occurs, the more devastating our impact. Wetlands are a very unique and critically endangered ecosystem, as are many of the creatures that inhabit them. In other words, not all landscapes are equal. Yes, I agree that we all have a negative impact every day. Thanks for reminding me. However, I have chosen a job that allows me to telecommute, and I bicycle wherever I can. These are small actions, but ones that more able-bodied people will need to take if we are to begin to sustain the planet and its ecosystems instead of further destroy them. Building an unnecessary road through a highly diverse ecosystem in a time of decreasing fossil fuels is, in my mind, short-sighted behavior.

Matthew Herbert 2 years, 5 months ago

Wetlands are a very rare thing indeed....but wasn't this one a man made wetland originally?

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

No. The Baker Wetlands were wetlands for many centuries before they were drained and cultivated for farm crops.

"Haskell archives indicate that between 1917 and 1927 a number of projects were carried out by the federal government on Haskell’s behalf that were aimed at draining the area for agricultural use."

Read this for a history of the Baker Wetlands:

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 5 months ago

Thank you so much for this link. My family and I have been to the Baker Wetlands many times. As I see it the precipatator behind all of these actions that affect the climate is human over population. I firmly believe that in future the Vatican will change its stance on birth control and will see it as a humane gesture that will not only benefit individual families but everyone.

John Graham 2 years, 6 months ago

While you may have decided the road is "unnecessary" the majority has spoken and they do not agree with you. As communities expand construction is necessary. Accept it and move on.

Kelly Barth 2 years, 5 months ago

Just as I had difficulty "just accepting and moving on" after any death without properly mourning it, I'll need to properly mourn this great loss.

John Graham 2 years, 5 months ago

Wow. What exactly is there to "mourn"? As pointed out in great detail below, when the project is completed there will actually be more wetlands than there are now. There will also be other lands set aside for preservation. If people would look at the big picture I fail to see what there is to "mourn" about. This is trying to make a big issue out of a non-issue.

Jeanette Kekahbah 2 years, 5 months ago

John, i agree the road is necessary. i also think respect, intelligence and responsibility are necessary. the majority wants the road and the majority doesn't care where the road is built so long as it gets built. but it is getting built disrespectfully, un-intelligently and irresponsibly. that was not necessary. but it's going down in such a manner because certain entities and persons are getting big money so the fat cats make bank again. looks like the 99% accepts the 1% all the way. over a canal, through floodplain...yeah the road will be built...and re-built...and re-built...and how much is the majority going to like accepting all the road repair that slows the movement of traffic?

John Graham 2 years, 5 months ago

You claim the road is being built disrespectfully, un-intelligently, and irresponsibly. Please provide facts (not unsubstantiated opinions) that support your claims. Please point out who the "certain entities and persons are that are getting the big money so the fat cats make bank". You are making substantial claims of wrong doing. If you are going to smear the people involved with the project please back you accusations with fact not just emotion. You have a right to not like the road being built. The process has been followed from planning, meetings with the community, lawsuits, bidding the job etc. The majority has spoken the minority has been heard repeatedly in the news and in court. The minority lost. Accept it or don't but that doesn't give you the right to make unsubstantiated claims against those involved. So make the claims you have made only if you have actual facts to back you up before you smear people simply because you don't agree with the outcome.

John Yocum 2 years, 5 months ago

The wetlands was manmade. It can be made again.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

The Baker Wetlands were NOT manmade, they were already centuries old when Christopher Columbus landed in North America.

Rae Hudspeth 2 years, 5 months ago

Good to know!

Although, to be technically accurate, Christopher Columbus never landed in North America. It was what we know today as The Bahamas. But Leif Erikson did.

Brock Masters 2 years, 5 months ago

It is interesting that the LTE writer is self righteous because her actions destroy less habitat. She is still responsible for habitat destruction and the death of animals, but the ones she kills are less important than those killed by the traffic way construction so it is okay

Kelly Barth 2 years, 5 months ago

I did not mean to suggest that I have no impact. What I did intend to say is that all of us, as far as we are able must limit our impact if we expect to remain on a living planet.

Jeanette Kekahbah 2 years, 5 months ago

personal attack is all you can muster, Masters?

John Graham 2 years, 5 months ago

Seems like someone has made statements above about the project being done disrespectfully, un-intelligently and irresponsibly. Aother statement was made"it's going down in such a manner because certain entities and persons are getting big money so the fat cats make bank". How are these statements anything but unsubstantiated personal attacks on those involved in the road project?

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

"The Baker Wetlands consists of 573 acres located on the south side of Lawrence in Douglas County in northeastern Kansas."

"Beginning in September 2008, Baker University, under the leadership of Dr. Roger L. Boyd, started the conversion of 140 acres of cropland back to wetlands. The project was approved by an agreement with Kansas Department of Transportation and financed by funds from the Federal Transportation bill of 2006."

"Overall, the estimates are that we will lose 56 acres of the original 613 acres south of 31st Street and gain 304 acres of restored wetlands. In addition, there will be about 50 acres of restored upland prairie and 25 acres of restored riparian habitat added to the area. This will total about 937 acres of habitat that will be managed for wetlands and wildlife in floodplains south of the completed South Lawrence Trafficway."

So, 56 acres of the Baker Wetlands will be lost, and 304 acres will be added to much more than make up for the 56 acres that will be lost. Plus, after the project is complete, there will be about 50 acres of restored upland prairie and 25 acres of restored riparian habitat.

Is there someone who either does not understand that 304 acres is much larger than 56 acres, or perhaps has not researched the Baker Wetlands project?

Brock Masters 2 years, 5 months ago

Ron, sounds like someone who has an agenda and doesn't want facts to get in the way of it.

John Graham 2 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for reminding (educating?) us on the full scope of the project. Often it is easier for people to attach to an emotional, limited aspect of an issue than appreciate the full facts.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

"Never let facts get in the way of a good argument."
- Old saying, origin obscure

Jeanette Kekahbah 2 years, 5 months ago

ask the state of florida about mitigating wetlands. google that. oh, wait, silly me! Ron is right, "Never let facts get in the way of a good argument."

John Graham 2 years, 5 months ago

Jeanette, are the projects in Florida and Kansas identical in every way? Are the exact same people involved in the Florida project and the Kansas project? Unless the scope, nature and people involved are almost exactly the same in every way between the two projects, one can not extrapolate the outcome of one project onto other. Oh, wait, silly me those darn facts got in your way again.

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