The Pride of Michigan

Les Line's article on the Kirtland's warbler ["Clarion Call," May] is outstanding! In one concise essay he has assembled the biological and social history of America's rarest warbler. His comprehensive and well-told story is the best I've seen. In 1931 the Michigan Audubon Society promoted the American robin as Michigan's state bird. In 1934 it discovered that the summer nesting grounds of the Kirtland's warbler were exclusively in the jack pine barrens of northern Michigan. Ever since, its members have talked about correcting their innocent mistake. That 70-year-old conversation has turned to action this year with the Kirtland's Warbler Initiative. A number of organizations and individuals committed to the bird's preservation are actively engaged in convincing the state legislature to revise the books. Nature enthusiasts from all over the world travel to Michigan to view the prized species, and the forest products industry here profits from the bird's habitat-management program. The Kirtland's warbler has earned its right to represent our state.

Len Stuttman, Co-Chair
Kirtland's Warbler Initiative
Lansing, MI


Raking Muck

Ted Williams's brilliant article ["Sludge Slinging," Incite, May] points out what is right about the actions of some Americans, notably Jack Spadaro. The central Appalachian Mountains are being flattened, undermined, dewatered, and dumped on at a rate that is unprecedented in history.

Clean coal technology is bogus if it focuses only on the "burning" end of electrical generation. In spite of our good intentions and its obvious benefits, the Clean Water Act has left us with lakes containing billions of gallons of sludge. The Clean Air Act has exacerbated the problem by assuring that much of the arsenic, mercury, lead, and other toxic chemicals known to be contained in coal slurry will be hidden, at least for the near term, within the hills and hollows of a region that is, quite frankly, national park material.

Who will stand up for the hard-working people of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky in their constant battle to survive? Of what value are the warblers and salamanders, the oak and hickory, and the fresh-water supply that was perhaps the wealthiest on earth? They are being overwhelmed by a wave of greed that we are all responsible for, and they are losing their homeland right in front of us. Where are the other Jacks and Teds?

Benjamin Mortimer Stout III
Associate Professor of Biology
Wheeling Jesuit University
Wheeling, WV


True Believers

Creationists' efforts to force-feed a biblical argument destroyed centuries ago to a gullible public is not surprising, although it certainly reaches a new low at Grand Canyon National Park ["Separating Church and Park," Field Notes, May]. The ridiculousness of creationist arguments is apparent to anyone taking even a remotely objective study of the past. Biblical literalism is but a fragment of the broader aspects of Christianity, and there are many of us—theistic evolutionists, if you will—who recognize that creationism represents neither science nor God. Nor is it necessary for Christian belief. The tragedy of the situation in Grand Canyon National Park is that it presents the public not only with poor science but also with poor Christianity.

Christopher O'Brien
Heritage Program Manager
USDA/Forest Service
Susanville, CA

I read "Separating Church and Park" in the May issue. The plaques at the Grand Canyon were put there by a God-fearing individual who wanted to give the glory and the credit to the one who created this beautiful monument. They were not introduced by someone who was pushing an agenda to make "faith-based" parks. Also, the implication that millions of years of evolution is science and that creation is religion is false. Both are religious. Neither can be absolutely proven, and both take faith to believe.

Shannon Shelton
Hannibal, NY


Center of Attention

Thank you for writing about The Audubon Center at Debs Park ["High Hopes"] in your March issue. TreePeople is one of Audubon's "sister" environmental organizations in Los Angeles. Some of the first trees we planted 26 years ago were in this special location, and over the years we've brought thousands of young people to Debs to care for this unique piece of wildland in the midst of a harsh city.

Solution-based projects like the effort at Debs Park give urban populations hope and inspiration to take responsibility for their quality of life. Many more such facilities are needed. We are ourselves in the midst of constructing a TreePeople Center for Community Forestry, sharing Audubon's mission to make Los Angeles a more sustainable city by helping to improve the neighborhoods where people live, learn, work, and play.

Andy Lipkis
Los Angeles, CA


Call to Action

Jeff Fair's "Cry of the Loon" [March] eloquently tells the story of the yellow-billed loon, which is now the subject of a formal petition requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list the species as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. As reported, the Bush administration is actively considering plans to open an area north of Teshekpuk Lake in the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska to oil development. This is a step that even the infamous James Watt, President Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, decided against. The article's What You Can Do box asked readers to direct letters about Teshekpuk Lake to the current Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, and the response so far has been terrific. Audubon's Alaska state office has received copies of more than 225 personal letters to Secretary Norton. Keep them coming! We know the pen has power. What remains to be seen is whether anyone is listening.

Stan Senner
Executive Director
Audubon Alaska
Anchorage, AK


I have never in my 37 years written a letter to any politician, representative, or newspaper with regards to my feelings about our environment. "Cry of the Loon" sent me over the edge, so to speak. I am a member of Sierra Foothills Audubon in California and, while I have not visited Alaska [yet], I can relate to the article—the Sierra foothills are being ravaged by developers, too. These are different problems perhaps, but they have the same grim end for wildlife and habitat. I am angered and frustrated almost to tears on a daily basis by the Bush administration's destructive ways. I can no longer sit back and do nothing. From now on I'm going to make sure my voice is heard. My letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton is my first paper missile.

Christiane Raymond
Auburn, CA


All Pumped Up

I have just read Ted Williams's article "The Mad Gas Rush" [Incite, March], and I do not remember the last time I have been so very incensed! I had read previously about drilling and mining in Montana and Wyoming, but this act of extraction and the destruction and devastation that it causes is too awful for words. If this is what we must do to carry on our normal lives, then it's high time we find a new source for fuel. In my opinion, anyone who indulges in this type of activity should not only not be elected to political office, they should be brought up on charges in a criminal court.

Dorothy A. Hull
Summerfield, FL

Don't Forget to Write
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