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The purchase of dunes in the 1990s obligates Manila to safeguard its coastal wetlands ("Bad Weed," April 21). Funny nobody talks about wetlands, even though Manila received $250,000 of state Wetland Habitat funds just to pull grass in recent years. The net effect on Manila's wetlands was detrimental, not enhancing.

As Fish and Wildlife said in NCJ‘s April 21 article, Manila had a large, mature forest just last century. When the hydrologic function of a coastal wetland is working properly, the young trees have enough water in the dunes to thrive. So let's use our current state Wetlands Habitat grant to enhance our aquifer rather than threaten it further.

It's simple: We can either have a garden or a desert; it's up to us. I favor the Friends of the Dunes proposal to replant the foredunes to protect the wetlands of Manila and promote reforestation around our wetlands.

It surprises me no HSU students are bringing to light the disastrous effects of vegetation removal on the coast. To use enviro-dollars to advance this destruction, in violation of the Coastal Act, the county Long-Term Management Plan, the Local Coastal Plan, and even the Ramsar, Kyoto and Copenhagen accords, is to work against our own best interests. We must remember that since 1972, coastal wetlands were to be the most protected land types in California, pursuant to the Coastal Act that defines an ESHA (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area).

What we've seen being practiced under the direction of the Dunes Co-op (a joint effort of university, local, state and federal agencies) is not science at all, but an experiment of eradication at the cost of wildlife, forest, aquifer and wetlands. Speak up for our coastal wetlands now, or lose them forever.

Dan Edrich, Manila



Can we quit it with the personal vendettas, please? ("Grass Poll," Mailbox, May 5.) I went on a Mother's Day wildflowers hike Saturday in the Lanphere Dunes that was offered by two volunteer docents. They took two moms, each with a young boy, and myself and patiently taught us about the plants and birds as we meandered through the refuge, which took over three hours. They showed us how to stay on the trail, observe wildlife tracks and ant mounds, and so much more.

As had been advertised, now I will receive a permit to revisit Lanphere with my son, my girlfriend, and other friends at my whim. I look forward to returning to that amazing, old, wise forest. It was much more grand than I had expected.

Now that I've had my one guided tour, I can take the responsibility of keeping to the trails and being a respectful visitor to Lanphere, just as Andrea Pickart, USFWS, had gleefully said at the Manila Dunes forum in April. It was worth it, and I suggest others should sign up for a guided tour, too; it is so wonderful there, and I can't wait to return soon.

Gene Biggins, Indianola



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