Union Democrat staff

Environmental mission

To the editor:

In her June 15 letter, TuCARE Executive Director Melinda Fleming demanded that conservation organizations stop focusing on environmental threats, such as eroding roads that contaminate streams or public forest livestock grazing that often harms meadows, water quality and wildlife habitat.

Fleming urged that environmental groups switch their focus to stopping pot plantations and drug cartels.

Speaking solely for our organization, the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center has skilled biologists and staff members highly experienced in land planning, forest management, wildlife and water.

We are not special agents or law enforcement investigators. We don't deal with illicit drug activity on public lands or spousal abuse or the homeless problem.

Our non-profit mission is focused on protecting water, wildlife and wild places across the vast Northern Yosemite region.

Whenever trash is dumped on public lands by campers, vandals or pot growers, it is a problem that deserves enforcement. If pesticide use on pot plantations causes ecological harm, it should be dealt with, just as widespread chemical treatments by lumber companies need to be scrutinized and halted if ecological impacts occur.

It is understandable that the executive director of TuCARE, a pro-logging, pro-grazing, pro-development group, sees all those uses as desirable.

CSERC takes a more middle-ground position.

We support logging, grazing and development where it does minimal harm, but we oppose those uses whenever they degrade air quality, water resources, scenic values or wildlife habitat.

Recent U.S. Forest Service logging projects are examples of positive activities that we support.

Clearcuts on private timberlands are examples of activities we oppose. Our mission will continue to focus on attempts to find balanced solutions that protect nature across this vast region.

John Buckley

Twain Harte

John Buckley is executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center.

Opportunity for change

To the editor:

We live in troubling times, and as citizens we have the opportunity to start real change in November.

There are two distinct ideals represented by the two political parties. It seems to me that the constituents from both sides eagerly treat politicians as if they were rock stars, giving no real thought as to where they are leading us.

I strongly recommend that before you vote you familiarize yourselves with two important historical documents, the Constitution of the United States and the Communist Manifesto.

After you have taken the time to read and understand these historic documents, then go to the voting booth and vote for the party that better represents the document that you agree with.

You don't have to be a genius to understand which party stands for freedom and which party stands for more government control. You have the choice to vote for "government by the people, for the people" or government that controls your life.

Understand that government cannot give anything to anybody without first forcefully taking it from someone else. That's not to say that the less fortunate should be thrown to the curb, but to say that we need to change an entitlement mentality that promotes overspending with overtaxation.

In control are 535 people in Washington. We can replace all of these politicians with statesmen over the next three elections, completing a peaceful transition to common sense and fiscal responsibility by 2014.

George Greenfield


Dogs in markets

To the editor:

While shopping at two of Sonora's stores where food is sold, I have noticed the presence of dogs. These were not "seeing eye dogs." One, a large pit bull, was not even on a leash, but wandering freely. The other was a large breed ensconced in shopping cart.

I have even encountered a large dog in the Sonora Regional Medical Center. I am elderly and very wary of strange dogs. I was assured by the man holding its leash that the dog would not hurt me, but animals are very unpredictable.

I'm sure there are laws governing dogs running loose in stores where the food we eat is sold.

Betty Phillips



To the editor:

A group calling itself "savethestan.com" is currently running a laughable ad campaign on the radio.

While accurately citing the devastating impact that non-native bass have on salmon populations, the sound byte proceeds to an alarming distortion of logic by saying that water levels in the river are, therefore, a non-issue for fish.

The group specifically mentions its representation of valley agricultural interests, so an analogy to agriculture seems fitting:

"We discovered that some gophers and voles have damaged our tomato crop," said Farmer Stan.

"So we figured we'd concentrate on killing them and quite worrying about watering the plants."

Obviously, that would be a fatal strategy for Farmer Stan, and ignoring the importance of river flow levels to fish habitat will be equally lethal for the native fish populations of the Stanislaus River.

Save the Stan and its sponsors, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts, have no right to advocate their cause with propaganda.

Owen Segerstrom