Letters to the editor for May 3, 2013

Demolition alternative

To the Editor:

Re: April 5, 2013 Anoka calls on county to consider demolition alternatives.

Re: Using the old state hospital cottages.

Idea: Anoka County Health and Human Services integrated health solutions and botanical gardens.

Use cottages two, three and four together as a community behavioral health care and integrated, holistic care center for physical and behavioral disorders.

Connect the cottages with greenhouses and botanical gardens, and use for public enjoyment, research, education and horticulture therapy.

Sell buy-a-roofing-tile tickets for ghost tours of cottages and tunnel.

Gather ideas and designs. Research funding and grants.

Helpful websites:

• www.namihelps.org

• www.integration.samhsa.gov

• www.thenationalcouncil.org

• www.sustland.umn.edu/design/healinggardens.html

• http://ncbg.unc.edu/horticultural-therapy/

• http://www.publicgardens.org/files/Curatorial%20Practices.pdf

Mary Caine

Buckthorn removal

To the Editor:

After beheading a rebellious subject, Henry VIII is said to have replied, “He only needed a haircut; the ax man’s aim was poor.”

The same might be said for the so-called buckthorn removal process in Anoka’s Rum River Nature Area, which just received the equivalent of a beheading.

Watching a gentleman cut saplings without caring whether they were buckthorns or cedar was like watching Henry’s ax man at work.

He performed the equivalent of an execution on anything six inches or less in diameter, leaving on a few isolated large oaks standing.

Rather than thoughtfully approaching the problem, Anoka’s solution was like Henry’s – cut the head off the forest by cutting every young tree including oak, pines, aspen, cedar and other species.

I spent almost two hours walking through the debris and it was the first time in over two decades of visiting the area I did not see any wildlife – not a squirrel, a rabbit or even a single bird.

Based on the December 2012 application plan, the real aim of the project claims to be restoring the area to an oak savanna whose blueprint is a 1938 aerial photograph, a decade that was hardly typical since it featured one of the greatest droughts in Minnesota history.

Why pick 1938? Why oak savanna? The Rum River area was once one of the premier pine woods in Minnesota. The logs to build the original Fort Snelling probably came from the park or a nearby location.

Any ecologist knows nature is not a snapshot. Because it is constantly changing, trying to pick and choose what an area “should” look like is risky.

Aldo Leopold, a forester who wrote one of America’s most famous environmental works – “A Sand County Almanac” – once said, “The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not …Who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts?”

That the so-called buckthorn project represents some bureaucrat’s idea of a forest is made clear in the flyer justifying the project, “It will be much more open and will better showcase the stately old trees that make up the woodland.”

Apparently all that mattered in the forest they just cut down was “stately old trees.”

The main value of forests is to serve as “showcases” – a tree museum.

The person who wrote that sentence and those in charge of the project probably never spent much time in the old forest because the result is large piles of cut trees that deliberately block the area’s intricate trail network.

Those trails winding through the dense growth had a mystery about them – you never knew what was around the next corner. There is not the same mystery about “stately old trees.”

In the summer the dense shade made the old forest one of the few cool outdoor walking spots. “Stately old trees” spaced hundreds of yards apart don’t offer that.

For a lot of area kids it was a place of rope swings and tree houses. They would ruin “stately old trees.”

For birdwatchers the thick woods were ideal especially during migration time. Species like warblers favor dense cover. They are not attracted to “stately old trees.”

For a few of us it was a place to harvest wild mushrooms. The most common edible ones in the old forest did not favor “stately old trees.”

Aldo Leopold also said, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

Ralph Brauer

Faced with challenges

To the Editor:

As many of you are aware, I’ve been faced with several challenges over the last few years. Last week I stood trial facing charges stemming from the closure of my former business.

On Friday (April 19), a jury concluded that I had wrongly withheld funds from employee benefits.

The city of Ramsey has been faced with many challenges over the last few years as well. I brought and maintained a deep historical perspective, experience and skill-sets that were aligned with the city’s needs, and I have always been committed to helping Ramsey realize its full potential.

It has always been important for me to remain involved and to help guide the city through some troubling times and into a more prosperous and more unified era.

It has also been important for me to work at separating my personal life from that of a Ramsey City Council member.

Although the final outcome with the court is not yet fully resolved and it may be or may not be possible for me to remain on the council, I believe it is in the best interest of the city for me to step down as a councilmember and HRA member at this time,

We have enjoyed many accomplishments in the city over the last 11 years. Much more work remains to be done. I don’t want any of my personal issues to become a distraction for my colleagues. I don’t want our dedicated city staff to be distracted from the tasks we’ve outlined through our strategic planning efforts and the real work of growing and managing this organization

When you’re an elected official there’s always a question of when you should serve and when you should step away and let others offer their service. This conflict has been on my mind of several months.

This last election installed a terrific new city council and I’m confident this council will carry the city forward and accomplish great things with grace and with dignity. This council will build Ramsey to be a respected and vibrant community; you will usher in that new era that I’d mentioned. So regardless of the final disposition of my court case, this is a good time for me to resign my service.

I am grateful to the outstanding efforts of the city staff. I will miss my association with the council colleagues. But I am most grateful to the citizens of Ramsey who elected me three times and allowed me the honor and privilege to serve as their representative.

I thank you all very much for your friendship and your support along the way. I sincerely wish you, and the city of Ramsey a prosperous future.

David Elvig

Fixated on homosexuality

To the Editor:

Ms. Barb Anderson is still(!) fixated on homosexuality (April 5, 2013, “Schools would be less safe”).

She’s very concerned that the state is pushing acceptance of homosexuality.

Hmmm. The state is supposed to help children understand reality. The state did the same with the germ theory of disease (versus demons), evolution (versus scientific creationism) and our place in the universe (versus geocentism).

Furthermore, Minnesota prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Yes, this definitely belongs in the school curriculum.

Ms. Anderson doesn’t realize that the world has moved on. Gay marriage is sweeping the nation and most people are relieved to have the door ripped off of that grotesque closet.

People with strong relationships want the same joys and benefits for others, regardless of the minor details.

Her other objection is that the new anti-bullying rules will prevent her fun-loving children from hassling gay students. She’s concerned that preventing such attacks will create a “safety issue and encourage acrimony and academic distress!”

Ho-boy, does that charge take brass! So it’s a tragedy that her conservative Christian thugs will no longer be allowed to verbally beat up on their victims of choice!

Ms. Anderson’s prejudices are usually given cover by bogus “scientific” sources or a religious freedom pass.

This time she’s blown that cover. This time she’s demanding the right to persecute.

Yet despite her dearest wishes, there is no right to harass and intimidate. Such venomous behavior has no place in a free society and it especially has no place in a public school.  Despite the centuries-long battle to keep sex dirty and an original sin, we’re finally starting to accept sex as an integral part of the human experience.

We’re discovering that sex is multifaceted and difficult to pigeonhole. We’re no longer afraid to admit that, hey, sex is fun and creativity makes it even better!

We still have a long journey before we have a reasonable understanding of the complexities of sexuality.

However, letting gays breathe the fresh air of public acceptance is a major step in the right direction.

Rod Kuehn

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