Comment history

A road to better wetlands

Here is a letter to the editor that I wrote but it was too long for inclusion in the LJW and too expensive as an ad:

Dear Editor:
As a plant ecologist and wetland scientist, I am excited to see the new mitigation wetlands on the Baker University land east of the Haskell-Baker wetlands. I just love wetlands and am happy to have them in my neighborhood. Roger Boyd has done a good job creating these wetlands, but let’s get something straight. These new wetlands don’t replace what is being destroyed at the Haskell-Baker wetlands as a result of the South Lawrence Trafficway.

A multitude of plants, animals, insects, spiders, fungi, microbes, and other organisms in the soil and water will be lost forever. You are fooling yourself if you believe that replacement can be gained simply by calculating acreage loss and mitigation gain while incorporating wetland functions and societal values. The Earth is a living and intelligent being as are its flora and fauna. Losing them is like losing loved ones you know. Indigenous peoples throughout the world have believed this for many 100s of years. Concerned residents would also take such a loss to heart, a feeling that has fueled a 25-year fight to save the wetlands. If you tie in the environmental justice issues such as loss of sacred land and burial sites, intrusion on Haskell University’s medicine wheel, etc., it is no wonder the SLT has been such a contentious issue.

Roger and Jon Boyd in the July 15th Journal World article—A Road to Better Wetlands—expressed hope that both sides of the SLT argument could reconcile over time. I am not sure that is entirely possible, but I have two suggestions that could further heal this wound. First, have those in favor of the project including the US Army Corps of Engineers, KDOT, other public officials, attorneys, and citizens go to the wetlands and apologize to the plants, animals, spirits, and ancestors that reside in the land, so that reconciliation can continue. Second, now that we have a new complex of wetlands, let’s celebrate their presence. Couldn’t we have the community of SLT adversaries go there to welcome the plants and animals (and thank the Boyds and Baker University)? Ceremonies could be performed and other activities scheduled to establish a new start for us all.

In the spirit of the wetlands,

Frank J. Norman

Mr. Norman has lived in Lawrence for 30 years, and is a plant ecologist, botanist, and herbalist.

July 24, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. ( | suggest removal )