Chapman's Landing idea would do harmTom Horton's column...


November 06, 1996

Chapman's Landing idea would do harm

Tom Horton's column (Oct. 4, ''In Charles County, a legal travesty") incorrectly implies that the Army Corps of Engineers has met all of its legal obligations in determining whether to approve the 2,250-acre Chapman's Landing development project. In fact, the National Environmental Policy Act requires that the Corps ask for a comprehensive ''environmental impact statement'' if a project is likely to adversely affect a site's environmental quality, including, but not limited to, its wetlands.

In his letter to the editor (Oct. 28, ''Chapman's Landing alternative is worse''), Charles Ellison, the project manager for Chapman's Landing, suggests that their development plan is the most environmentally sound option.

Yet studies by scientists and conservation organizations such as the Maryland Native Plant Society suggest that the proposed development seriously undervalues the ecological importance of this Chesapeake Bay watershed, underestimates the quality and extent of its wetlands and overvalues environmental protection measures such as storm-water management ponds.

The site's groundwater-fed wetlands and streams, and the old growth forests that surround them, help sustain the environmental quality of the Mattawoman Creek, which supports multimillion-dollar recreational bass fishery. This forested watershed also provides habitat for many of the Potomac River's native flora and fauna, including such endangered anadromous fish as shad and herring, neotropical songbirds, and plants.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stated, furthermore, that this development ''may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources of national importance.'' Such sprawl drains the economic strength from our cities, further undermining Maryland's efforts to save the Chesapeake Bay.

Given these concerns, it is clear that a full environmental impact statement is needed, and legally required, before any woodland is bulldozed at Chapman's Landing.

Andrew Macdonald

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is a lecturer in the Environmental Earth Science and Public Program at Johns Hopkins University.

United Nations needs support

I was pleased by your recent editorial supporting the U.S. efforts to have the United Nations sponsor peacekeeping troops from Africa for use on that continent.

The U.S. has been quite successful when it has taken the lead in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or with the U.N. There have been many more recent problems that could have benefited from our stepping to the forefront.

Even though a presidential election always discusses national issues to a much greater extent, this year's candidates avoided hardly any mention of foreign affairs.

Even though the United Nations has been in need of certain reforms, the organization has been very essential and is an institution that should be much admired.

Charles Frascati


Humans and apes distant relatives

In an Oct. 31 letter about evolution, George Mino asked a really peculiar question: ''After all, if people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?`

This is very much like asking, ''If I'm here, why do my cousins still exist?'' I trust that even those who don't believe in evolution will agree that cousins can and do exist.

My grandparents are the ancestors of both me and my cousins. My great-grandparents are the ancestors of both me and more distant relatives. In exactly the same way, ancient apes are the ancestors of both modern humans and modern apes.

Tim Cliffe


'Liberal' still a good thing to be

Isn't it amazing how the English language has changed over the years. These days ''liberal'' seems to have an unpleasant connotation. Whatever happened to "generous," "open-handed"? Whatever happened to, ''You've got to spend money to make money." Or what Dolly Levi always says in Hello Dolly, ''Money is like manure. It is meant to be spread around helping small things to grow."

These days, ''conservative'' and ''budget-cutting'' are popular attributes. Used to be that same attitude was called ''stingy," ''cheapskate," ''penny pinching," ''hard-hearted" and ''Scrooge-like."

Did the connotations change because our values have changed or because the language has been exploited and warped for propaganda purposes? I think most people would still rather think of themselves as being like Dolly rather than Ebenezer. Let's think about what words really mean to us before we let ourselves be led in directions we didn't mean to go.

Denise Barker


Md. students perform well on AP exams

The Oct. 30 article ''Maryland students' scores dip below average'' contains misleading statements while ignoring the consistently superior performance of the state's students on the academically challenging Advanced Placement exams.

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