Letters To The Editor


September 01, 2005

Power-dredging can give boost to oysters in bay

The Sun's editorial "Oyster bed unrest" (Aug. 24) begs for a factual response that supports the expansion of power-dredging in portions of the Chesapeake Bay.

I certainly agree that the oyster population has been decimated over the last two decades. As The Sun mentioned, the decline is mostly the result of disease.

But The Sun neglected to specify that two of the diseases, MSX and Dermo, are here to stay. While the amount of yearly rainfall affects the strength of these diseases, the oyster population will continue to be reduced.

At the risk of sounding overdramatic and negative, the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay is essentially doomed. No amount of protection, moratorium on harvesting or effort to restore the native oyster will restore this once-abundant population.

The editorial also failed to mention the effect silting in the Chesapeake Bay has on the oyster population. With the growth of development along the bay, runoff has increased the amount of silt that settles over oyster bars.

Working the bay bottom through power-dredging exposes oyster shells on oyster bars that have been silted over. Spat (baby oysters) need a hard surface to which to attach and the exposed surface creates an improved environment for spat to grow.

I challenge The Sun to review the areas opened to power-dredging in 2003. Have not conditions improved in these areas as oysters are better able to repopulate?

Finally, the editorial said, "Admittedly, the DNR is under considerable pressure from Republican lawmakers to aid watermen and seafood processors whose incomes have waned as the oyster supply has plummeted."

But The Sun's article "More motorized oystering proposed" (Aug. 17), Michael Slattery, an assistant secretary at the Department of Natural Resources, said, "We are responding to requests from elected officials in Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore."

The elected officials from Southern Maryland are mostly Democrats.

As this is not a partisan issue, The Sun should not have singled out Republican lawmakers in its editorial.

Richard F. Colburn


The writer represents District 37 in the Maryland Senate.

Alarming policies on environment

The editorial "Smoke alarm" (Aug. 25) said that "nine Northeastern states are finalizing a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 10 percent within 15 years. Unfortunately, Maryland is not a party to this."

It also noted that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. "ordered Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. not to join in a lawsuit filed by a dozen other states to force the Environmental Protection Agency to crack down on mercury."

This from a governor who claims to be concerned with the ecology of our bay?

By coincidence, in the same edition of The Sun, a headline read, "Oxygen-deprived `dead zone' spreads over 41% of the bay" (Aug. 25).

To make matters even worse, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has authorized extended power-dredging of our depleted oyster beds although oysters are one of the best filters for the bay's polluted waters.

Just because we have a president in the White House who seems to be against any regulations to protect our environment is no reason to have a governor in the State House who follows suit.

Maybe someone in Annapolis can explain the rationale for this folly.

Henry Seim


Recruiters target poor, hopeful youths

The tragic deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan of two Forest Park High School graduates remind us that poor and working-class minority youths - idealistic kids with few other options - are particularly targeted for military recruitment ("Deaths sow doubt, grief at city school," Aug. 30).

If the ROTC students in Baltimore's high schools now see the reality of war and question the pretty promises made to them by recruiters, perhaps these young people will not have died in vain.

Claudia Leight


Wasting city youths on imperial wars

As a social worker in the neighborhoods from which these two Baltimoreans - Army Spc. Toccara Renee Green and Army Staff Sgt. Damion G. Campbell - hailed, I am sickened by their deaths ("Deaths sow doubt, grief at city school," Aug. 30).

What a waste. What a shame. What a joke.

What kind of country do we live in where the only opportunities for the best and brightest from poor neighborhoods is to become cannon fodder in imperial wars of choice?

Jay Dover


Busy mom's cheers not front-page news

It's certainly noteworthy, in a human-interest sort of way, that Molly Shattuck has become a Ravens cheerleader at age 38 ("Busy mom of three has something to yell about," Aug. 28). And yes, her physical condition is admirable.

Mrs. Shattuck is a fortunate woman. Unlike so many people today, she's in a position to take a job that pays, as I understand it, $75 per week, and to donate that money to charity. But is this really a front-page story?

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