Letters to the Editor

Counterpoint: writer bellyflops in Lake Washington example | Letters

In his June 11, 2012 letter, Mr. Penwell says that humans can “improve the quality of the environment”, using Lake Washington as an example. (Counterpoint: private lands are not ‘Common’”)

In the early 1960’s, the City of Juanita was dumping raw sewage into the lake. Frequently, dead fish floated on the surface, which was covered by green algal blooms. An expensive project of installing sewer pipes and pump stations along the lakefront did indeed clean up the lake.

But did we improve it, or reclaim it, or mitigate a massive impact?

Nature cannot be improved upon. Countless species of plants and animals have become extinct or extirpated from many regions of the earth before the advance of human civilization, and at a rapid pace since. To paraphrase Aldo Leopold: “The intelligent tinkerer saves all the parts.”

Humans have been tinkering with the earth for quite some time now, and not bothering to save the parts.

In diversity there is stability. The more we destroy, the less stable whole ecosystems become. We are all dependent on the oceans and forests to change carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Locally, forage fish need eelgrass for spawning and cover; salmon need forage fish; orcas need salmon, and whale-watch operators depend on the orcas, etc. We need marshes, wetlands, fields and forest to ensure the biodiversity that we cherish in the islands and sometimes to provide our livelihood.

Mr. Penwell asks: “Where is the problem?” I ask: “Where are the many fish that were so prolific throughout our islands?” Did we improve the islands by eliminating some and severely reducing the populations of others?

Critical areas are so named because they are critical to the health of our region. Understandably, we are dismayed at regulations that may change the manner in which we intend to use our properties. I hope that we can be sensible in adopting and enforcing these regulations, but we need to be realistic and realize that unrestricted growth will ultimately give us an environment that we may not cherish. We need all the parts.

Paul S. Henriksen/Lopez Island




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