I am writing in response to your article, dated 4/12/12, regarding the
restoration of Cowles Bog Wetland Complex.
While I support the NPS's ongoing efforts to restore the Cowles Bog wetland,
this particular aspect, which entails clear-cutting 25 acres of mature
woodland, is misguided and unnecessarily destructive of the environment. It
will have dire consequences for the local region and will most certainly
diminish the enjoyment of this rich natural resource for the vast majority
of park visitors. One need only visit the site to understand the tragic
magnitude of the proposed project. More than 3,000 trees will be needlessly
eliminated. In turn, this will expose the wetland's flora and fauna to
marked increases in environmental pollution and obliterate the natural
panorama which currently exists.
Disturbingly, none of this is apparent from reading the NPS environmental
assessment or press releases. Their publicity campaign emphasizes only the
project’s positive characteristics while obscuring or dismissing unfavorable
aspects of it. In so doing, the NPS has intentionally misled the public in
order to quell the inevitable opposition to such heavy-handed deforestation.
Case in point, in your 4/12 article, NPS concedes, “some trees will be
removed” but “these are generally small in size...” This is patently false.
According to NPS documents more than 3,400 trees will be removed. This
represents 97% of the trees on the site. And these are not "invasive
species" as suggested by the NPS. The vast majority—maple, oak, blackgum,
sassafras—are indigenous to the region.
This woodland provides a critical natural buffer between the wetlands and
the industrial encroachment to the south. Destroying it will not “provide a
view-shed reflective of that experienced by Henry Cowles...” as NPS has
boasted. It will open all of Cowles Bog to the rail yards, high tension
wires, semi-truck traffic and steel mills that define much of the
neighboring area. What good can come from such destruction? NPS documents
tell us: “Although the action alternatives may improve visitor use and
experience, the increase would not be considered appreciable.”
When the IDNLS was created in 1966, the NPS was legislatively bound to
“preserve in its present state...” that which had been entrusted to their
care by the American people. It does not have the authority to customize the
landscape to their whims. This is just one more example of a park
administration that is dangerously out of touch with the concerns of local