Letters to the editor for May 17, 2013

Gun sense in America

To the Editor:

I demand that our government create regulations for guns that are as strong as they are for our cars, toys and food.

I expect my elected leaders to put our children’s safety over their political careers and the profit and influence of the gun industry.

As a mom, I have the right to know that my children are safe from gun violence, from the moment they leave my arms in the morning until they return home later in the day.

As a parent, I have the right to preserve my children’s innocence and shield them from gun violence in America, both real and scripted.

For the sake of our children, we demand that our teachers be focused on teaching our children, not training to be armed guards.

As citizens, we expect to have access to complete and accurate information about the impact of gun violence on our communities.

As voters, we will hold our elected officials accountable for keeping our children safe from gun violence.

All I want for Mothers’ Day is gun sense in America.

Please join me by supporting www.momsdemandaction.org.

In peace,
Deborah A. Schuster
Blaine

Ecological restoration

To the Editor

The ecological restoration efforts at the Anoka Nature Preserve were grossly mischaracterized in a May 3 letter to the editor as a buckthorn removal project with the goal of creating oak savanna, resulting in only a few isolated large oaks standing.

Rather than engage in a tit-for-tat deconstruction of that concerned citizen’s comments, I’ll try to sum up the actual nature and intent of the project. As the project manager, I’m fairly well suited to the task.

The Anoka Nature Preserve was infested with invasive species, namely common buckthorn, eastern red cedar, tartarian honeysuckle, Siberian elm and prickly ash. Two of these are actually native to the area, but left unchecked by fire they can, and did, become invasive (eastern red cedar and prickly ash).

The goal of the project was to restore the forest to a healthy ecosystem by removing exotic invasive species and reducing native invasive species to non-invasive levels.

With that done, what remains includes some open canopy oak savannas, some mixed age oak woodlands, scattered stands of aspen, clusters of pine, white cedar and spruce plantings, some dense oak forest, and even an eastern red cedar woodland. DNR ecologists and other natural resource professionals have applauded the project approach and outcome.

The bid documents would have allowed the removal of all species under a certain size, which was done to broaden the bidding pool to contractors who may not have been well versed on mid-winter tree identification.

The larger the pool of potential contractors, the greater the likelihood of getting a good value for the taxpayer. This would have resulted in more collateral damage by removing non-target species but that loss was weighed against the benefit of treating more acreage.

In the end, we were very fortunate to have the winning bid be with Minnesota Native Landscapes out of Otsego. Having the necessary tree identification skill set, their equipment operators were able to be much more selective when removing trees and made every attempt to leave small and mid sized desirable species like hackberry, black cherry, chokecherry, green ash, bur oak, red oak, pin oak, aspen, dogwood and hazelnut.

We even left some isolated pockets of the dense treated buckthorn as escape cover for birds and small mammals.

If we had been able to remove all of the buckthorn, and only the buckthorn, the response by some park users would have been the same. The infestation was so dense that the restoration project, no matter how surgically precise, would have greatly changed the character and feel of the park.

The tunnel like trails, encased with buckthorn, with sight-lines that could penetrate no more than a couple feet into the summer foliage, would have been replaced with panoramic views extending well into even the denser forest stands. This level of change is seldom appreciated or welcome.

Buckthorn doesn’t just displace native trees and shrubs by leafing out earlier and holding its leaves longer than any other species in the area, thereby shading out the competition, it has no natural diseases or insects to keep it in check.

Not only that, but common buckthorn emits a toxin through its roots that suppresses the growth of competing vegetation.

Furthermore, common buckthorn berries have a natural laxative, which promotes seed dispersal by quickly passing through the digestive system of birds and small mammals that readily consume the berries. This has the unfortunate consequence of leaving local wildlife dehydrated and malnourished.

During our treatment of the buckthorn last fall, as we systematically criss-crossed every square foot of the park, I didn’t see a single deer, turkey, raptor, or fox.

This spring, in a half-hour walk through the park to check on the progress, I was able to watch several turkey foraging in the woods from about 30 yards away and saw a hawk dive from a tree to the demise of a mouse or vole.

With the dense buckthorn, the turkey would not have been visible and the hawk would not have found the forest a suitable hunting grounds.

To better appreciate what a healthy forest looks and feels like, I strongly recommend visiting the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Preserve in East Bethel. There is no better place in the twin cities to take a step back in time and experience what inspired Aldo Leopold in the first place.

Chris Lord
Anoka Conservation District, Ham Lake

Bombings in Boston

To The Editor:

The bombings in Boston horrified us all, or at least we would like to believe it did, if we could just have a clear idea of who “us” is.

It’s easy to be confused when there is today little clarity about language, borders, citizenship, voting, culture, religion and even marriage, our history and our Constitution.

One bomber is dead, and the other in custody. Were there others? Maybe. Probably. But what was the motive?

Thought leaders will speculate about their stressful childhoods, marital strife, anger about some slight here or offense there.

There will be a focus on their Russian-ness. There will be hand-wringing about why such bright young men did such an inexplicable act, about their potential futures had this event not interfered.

One might even be forgiven for believing they are being portrayed as additional victims of the bombs they set.

Lost in all this will be the simple – and accurate – answer. These were Muslims, being fully activated Muslims, waging Jihad against Kufr as best they could, just as Mohammed did and just as he instructed.

But despite this simple truth, our politicians, media and intellectuals will inundate us with calls to respect Islam, stressing that these two were part of a tiny fringe, reminding us that Islam is a Religion of Peace™, and shaming us into being more and more deferential to the demands of the most easily offended group on the planet.

And we will be lulled into returning to our lives, comfortable in the knowledge that our all-knowing, all-caring, beneficent government will keep us safe. And informed. And tolerant. And deluded.

Until one day, the number of young, male, fully activated Muslims will be such that they will simply slaughter us with impunity, as is currently happening in Thailand, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan, India, Tanzania, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Norway, the Philippines, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Syria. And Mali and Tunisia. And Kosovo. And Chechnya. And right here in America (Nidal Hasan).

If only we had a clear idea of who “us” is.

Eventually they will have killed more Americans than Kermit Gosnell.

Would it be too much to ask that no more Muslims be granted citizenship until this can all be sorted out?

Jeff Baumann
Coon Rapids

Increase price of tobacco

To the Editor

At the Raise it for Health Day at the Capitol on April 18, I met with Rep. Jim Abeler and had the opportunity to discuss how important it is to raise the price of tobacco and was able to show my support on the issue.

Research shows that by raising the price of tobacco, we can help current smokers quit, prevent kids from ever starting and save lives.

Tobacco is still a big problem in Minnesota. This year 77,000 Minnesota kids will use tobacco and 16 percent of all Minnesotans will continue to smoke.

Smoking costs Minnesota $3 billion in excess health care costs and 5,100 Minnesotans will die this year from tobacco-related illnesses. It is clear to me that we can’t tolerate the costs of tobacco any longer.

I hope that Rep. Abeler will take our conversation into consideration and help pass a tobacco increase.

Dana Hoenigschmidt
Ramsey

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