Bill Lueders: Thanks for writing "Tower Project Scars the Arboretum," 12/12/08, which quoted from my recent report. This very erudite article points out the conflicts that exist between protecting our environment and advancing technology. In the end, the side with the most dollars will win, and it is rarely the side that favors our ecosystem.
There's an additional exacerbating factor in the continuing demise of the Southeast Marsh and other wetlands in the Arboretum. The Arb is surrounded by roads and parking lots that receive many tons of salt each winter to facilitate human activities when it snows. The influx of salt runoff during early spring is enough to turn the wetlands from fresh water to brackish water systems for about two to four weeks.
This salty witches' brew enhances the movement of heavy metals, especially copper and zinc, to remote reaches of the wetlands. The "slow death" process is accelerated during this time interval, and much of the damage is caused by the combination of salt and metal. I realize that road salt is essential to safe transport, but in the future, we may be left with a legacy of this negligent behavior that can only be restored with great difficulty.
My husband, Ed Dunkinson, and I will be continuing our investigations into the damage done to wetlands at the Arboretum and other antenna sites. We hope to publish the documentation in a professional journal this upcoming year.
Cynthia A. Stiles
Supervisory soil scientist, USDA-NRCS