I am not surprised that a leading attorney for Humboldt's marijuana industry would want to deflect criticism of the marijuana industry ("Cannabis Crossroads," Aug. 6). However, Ed Denson's Aug. 20 letter presents a confused and misleading argument.
First, he misrepresents what I actually said, when he refers to me "citing the small amount of 'native habitat' remaining here, and its importance to 'Humboldt's largest species.'" Actually Ed, my point was that Humboldt retains a relatively large portion of native habitat, which is a rarity in the temperate regions of the world. This distinction makes Humboldt special because large animals and top carnivores need large areas of habitat, and without top carnivores, biodiversity plummets. Given the current rate of extinctions, what we do here in Humboldt is extremely important.
Then Denson presents some numbers in a highly misleading fashion. He cites the total acreage that is owned by timber companies in Humboldt County, and compares that to his estimates of the total acreage of marijuana grows, rather than the total acreage of land owned by private individuals. Pretty sneaky. By using this misleading comparison, he grossly underestimates the impact of marijuana grows. His comparison infers that the impacted land is only as big as the grows themselves. This is untrue. Fragmentation affects the whole region.
Throughout the world, habitat fragmentation is a leading cause of extinctions. Just one road through an ecosystem is enough to negatively impact ecosystem functioning and wildlife. As the fragmentation increases, so do the negative effects. To claim that concern over habitat is a holdover from the timber wars, and has no place in the "marijuana context" is ludicrous. When marijuana is grown in habitat, habitat fragmentation becomes a central marijuana issue.
Amy Gustin, Ettersburg