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CPR for Rivers?


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I have always liked Estelle Fennell and admired her work as a journalist, but I can't let her letter to the editor of Sept. 3 stand as the last word. She wrote in response to Richard Engel's North Coast Journal letter of Aug. 20: "... our river ecosystems are in fact dying of a thousand cuts, most of them tied to our land use practices." His call for "stronger measures ... for reining in rural sprawl" prompted Fennell's response, but she used diversionary tactics and never refuted his arguments.

She protests that it cannot be the "fault of people who do not live in the city that dogs have been killed by playing in warm shallow waters." This statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the history of such proud rivers as the Eel and Van Duzen that are currently closed for swimming or other contact due to stagnation and attendant deadly blue-green algae. As recently as the 1950s and 1960s these rivers were chilly in summer and year-around homes for salmon and steelhead. This is their natural condition and should be their desired future condition from a planning perspective.

Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights (CPR) may have many "back-to-the-land environmentally conscious folks" as members, but they are not preventing damage from rural development. While some of these people brought hope in the 1970s and 1980s of an enlightened "new settlement" with alternative energy and organic farming, the current mode of "rural development" lacks any such ethic. Anyone with cash from the legitimate or underground economy can buy land, tap surface and ground water to dry up streams, purchase a bulldozer and create roads. As the road systems fail during major winter storms, they not only bury our waterways, they change formerly forested lands into hot, dry sites and further diminish the water banking capacity of our watersheds.

Humboldt CPR doesn't have to "support failing or otherwise inadequate septic systems or the kind of practices that release fertilizer into our waterways," those things are known to be associated with rural development. It would be more productive if Humboldt CPR started working on solutions to these problems instead of just trying to allow further laissez faire policies for rural development in the update of the County General Plan. Show us you can start to resolve some of these problems and the community will likely be more comfortable with planned growth in rural areas.

Patrick Higgins, McKinleyville


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