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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Wetlands not ‘vacant’

September 5, 2013

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To the editor:

Chad Lawhorn’s article, “Trafficway contract to be awarded within weeks,” in the Aug. 30 Journal-World, states that the planned route of the South Lawrence Trafficway travels across “vacant ground.” It’s not surprising that Lawhorn uses this term to refer to the wetlands that the SLT is scheduled to traverse; in the prevailing culture, any land that lacks a human-built home, business or structure is termed “vacant.”

However, this conception is inaccurate — as any high school biology student can point out. Natural areas, especially the Haskell and Baker Wetlands, are home to rich varieties of interacting, mutually dependent plant and animal species, thriving in specialized ecosystems that make up the grand system of nature that enables human life on earth. Such ground is far from “vacant!”

Incidentally, can anyone assure us that plans for the SLT through these wetlands include provisions — such as under-road tunnels — for wildlife to pass safely between the surviving wetlands on the north, and those on the south, of the highway? Connectivity between natural areas is essential to maintaining healthy, life-supporting ecological systems and is conducive to safety for human and non-human creatures alike.

Comments

Mike Ford 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Haskell Institute was opened in 1884 with one land donation and a number of land purchases with treaty monies okayed by the US Congress and the Treasury Department which held monies for tribes from treaties and land sales and this money went educate children at boarding schools and purchase the area for the wetlands. The free education bit that is very popular with uninformed people is nonsense based upon the fact mentioned above. The Civilization Act passed by the US Congress in 1819 provided funding to tribes willing to sell lands to educate their children with. Quid Pro Quo.....monies from land sales for Indian Education. Which makes me wonder.....if the US Congress didn't okay the cession of wetlands purchased with Indian monies for farming that in essense would be a violation of the Indian Non Intercourse Act of 1790. When Congress passes laws they like them followed right? As for why all of this history is relevant to the wetlands area..... all of the above tribes had or have children studying at Haskell. Back then Haskell resembled a poorly ran Military School that drilled the Indian culture out of it's students. This was part of the assimilation process along with the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887. Those children suffered greatly in the late 19th century at places like Haskell and when one could get away from the campus and work in the fields or wetlands it was like getting in the open air at a prison or a concentration camp. Why are there books called "Education for Extinction" about Indian Boarding Schools? for the very reason I mentioned above. And if you think I've written too long think of writing this story over and over to the authorities who cast a blind eye and are letting this road happen.

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Mike Ford 7 months, 2 weeks ago

depravity.....not understanding indigenous connections to a specific place. The Kaw and Osage Nations can claim the wetlands areas as ancestral areas. The Shawnee can claim the area also because the Kaw treatied the land away to the US in 1825 for the purpose of American passage on the Santa Fe and Oregon trails and the opening of lands in eastern Kansas to put the Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandotte, Miami, Peoria, Piankishaw, Wea, and Kaskaskia, Ottawa, Chippewa, Munsee, three tribes of Sac and Fox. two tribes of Potawatomi, and two tribes of Kickapoo peoples onto this land between 1825 and 1848. The Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 led to treaties with all the Kansas tribes above except the Chippewa, Munsee, and Citizen and Prairie Band Potawatomi Nations. These treaties involved the taking of thirteen and a half million acres of land that all of you live on. Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Church of the Bretheren missionaries followed these tribes with the purpose of undermining their tribal governments and culture for the benefit of the US Government so that a century or so later a populace could exist in this area once the physical removal and cultural genocide was accomplished. Indian Boarding schools like Haskell were created to grab kids by force from reservations and take them far away intentionally to disconnect their family ties and culture and language. In the early days these schools were established on or near existing reservations. The Shawnee Mission in Fairway, Kansas, was once on the Shawnee reservation that existed until the 1860's and parts of it still remain east of De Soto, Kansas. The Potawatomi Mission at the Kansas State Historical Society campus was on a Potawatomi reservation in the 1840's. The Kaw Mission in Council Grove was on the Kaw Reservation in the 1850's before that tribe was removed to Indian Territory. You all live on Indian lands. There were still legal cases involving former Kaw Indian lands between Topeka and Perry, Kansas until the mid 1980's. This is not ancient history. Ask KCK how ancient the Wyandotte Reservation is downtown KCK where the 7th Street Casino is. Yes, that one acre is a reservation by legal definition.

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kansanbygrace 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Some errors can be mitigated after they're made. That's what some of these people are talking about. Your position that since this happened in the past it doesn't need to bear on decisions today is empty.

And if you would brush up on your arithmetic, you might improve your credibility. You missed the time lapse by a hundred years.

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Mike Ford 7 months, 2 weeks ago

go to the Haskell Museum on the campus with the letters from a Chippewa child to her parent in the late 1880's. The teenage child passed away and the father who lived west of Ottawa, Kansas, had trouble getting to see his own child prior to her passing. The depravity here is expected after what I've witnessed for over a decade.

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LJ Whirled 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Time to get over it and enjoy the new and soon-to-be sacredly-improved, wetlands ... and the new SLT!

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Joe Blackford II 7 months, 2 weeks ago

~ 1977. while a Natural Resource Mgmt major @ KSU, I was compelled to holler out "BALDERDASH" during a Nat. Res. Economics lecture. The prof told us (large lecture hall full of Ag majors) that there was no means to assess the $ value of natural lands . . . .

UNTIL the land was put to a "useful purpose," per Joni Mitchell's 1970 "Big Yellow Taxi":

"They paved paradise to put up a parking lot"

Per my favorite wildlife biologist, evaluation of natural areas is still in its infancy. Environmental Impact Statements still provide weak evaluations of "natural" assets.

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Ken Lassman 7 months, 2 weeks ago

This past weekend, the following 45 bird species were seen in just a 3 mile trek in the restored section of the wetlands west of Louisiana St. In other words, this is by no means comprehensive, and did not sample the more established wetlands east of Louisana St. People may misunderstand these wetlands as vacant, however these birds and many other animals and plants call it home or an essential resting place in its migration:

Canada Goose Northern Bobwhite Double-crested Cormorant Great Blue Heron Cooper's Hawk Killdeer Mourning Dove Great Horned Owl Ruby-throated Hummingbird Red-headed Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker Northern Flicker Olive-sided Flycatcher Alder Flycatcher Eastern Phoebe Blue Jay American Crow Barn Swallow Black-capped Chickadee Tufted Titmouse House Wren Sedge Wren Carolina Wren Eastern Bluebird American Robin Gray Catbird Northern Mockingbird Brown Thrasher European Starling Yellow Warbler Chipping Sparrow Field Sparrow Lark Sparrow Summer Tanager Northern Cardinal Blue Grosbeak Indigo Bunting Dickcissel Red-winged Blackbird Eastern Meadowlark Brown-headed Cowbird Orchard Oriole House Finch American Goldfinch House Sparrow

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IdahoWinds 7 months, 2 weeks ago

It occurs to me that part of the reason this project has been so controversial has been the lack of understanding - on the part of both sides. When Mr. Lawhorn uses the term "vacant land" he is referring to the COMMON usage of the term from the legal sense - the lack of human dwellings. Why is this so foreign to Ms. Hanson? I appreciate her frustrations and concerns but really, is "vacant land" actually a foreign concept? I doubt it! Try to keep in mind that 30 years ago the area was mostly crop fields.

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Mike Ford 7 months, 2 weeks ago

in contrast to previous comments these wetlands are sacred. they are sacred to the hundreds of current Haskell students and thousands of Haskell alumni whose ancestors knew what plants served medicinal or spiritual purposes for numerous tribes with diverse beliefs and geographical backgrounds prior to contact and removal through US Government policy of the 19th century. They are also scared to the indigenous students who went there to escape the suffocation of Christianity that permeated the early years of Haskell Instutute as it was known/

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Steven Gaudreau 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Can we get a new dead horse to beat? This one is nothing but disintegrated bone.

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Ron Holzwarth 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Every time a home is constructed, some wildlife is displaced or killed. Why isn't that ever discussed?

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Karl_Hungus 7 months, 2 weeks ago

If we had flying cars, this would not be a problem!!

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Greg DiVilbiss 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I was wondering if moving 31st will rehabilitate the North of 31st side of the wetlands. It appears that there is no water flow or aeration and that it is stagnant. It seems completely different than the South side Wetlands. Now maybe that is just the way wetlands are in parts, I am not sure.

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Stuart Evans 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Every square inch of land on this planet is covered by some forms of life; even if only bacteria, do they not have the same right to inhabit those spaces, as the beavers do in said wetlands? We upset the delicate balance of nature every single day on this planet, and we will continue to do so, because we are also nature, and unfortunately, not all of nature plays well with others.

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Joe Blackford II 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Per a wildlife biologist who reviewed the project, "culverts" under the SLT are to have features to "accommodate" wildlife passage.

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christy kennedy 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Well put. Thank you. I didn't see his article but "vacant ground" is indeed a loaded, uninformed, and culturally-insensitive way to describe the area. The majority of our national parks and forests are "vacant ground," thank goodness.

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