Tuesday, May 27, 2014: VA scandal, protecting Maine farmland, saving feral cats

Posted May 26, 2014, at 3:25 p.m.

Agricultural past

A huge swath of Maine’s best farmland straddles the Kennebec River, from Skowhegan to the coast. Young farmers are now flocking to central Maine. They want to farm. They need farmland. They do not need more highway exits and commercial development. We have plenty of Home Depots and Lowe’s and Wal-Marts, enough to last several lifetimes. These young farmers would use this land sustainably. They would improve the land year after year.

California is experiencing terrible drought. Do we want to rely on food “from away” in the future? Maine’s abandoned farmland is our greatest untapped asset. It could provide us with healthy food, good jobs and tax revenues for generations, with virtually no negative impact on the environment.

Many of our classic fruit varieties originated along the Kennebec as well, including several in the Sidney-Waterville area. One in particular is the Kennebec Russet. The only known remaining specimen is on the Eight Rod Road, just north of the Trafton Road. This ancient tree is a reminder of an agricultural past that faded in recent decades but is now making a comeback. Would it, too, fall victim to a highway exit?

As we consider altering our agricultural landscape for generations to come, let us be mindful of resources that might now be lost. If the new interchange project goes through, many acres of our highest quality farmland will be lost forever. It also may be that the last existing “Kennebec Russet” tree will be lost as well.

John P. Bunker

Waterville

 

Cat power

BDN columnist Philip Conkling had an excellent idea for reducing the number of feral cats in order to save millions of birds, as he described in his May 20 column.

But it is also true that the wind power industry does not need to do anything extra to save birds from an unfortunate death.

Green power sources already save millions of birds — and animals and fish — by reducing the amount of carbon, mercury and other heavy metals in the atmosphere.

Maybe the people who complain about the bird-turbine mishaps could round up the feral cats.

Patrick Hall

Bangor

 

VA scandal

The president recently stated, very strongly, he would get to the bottom of the VA scandal, with doctors in Phoenix being accused of ordering veterans’ names be put on a secret waiting list until a spot opened up on the real waiting list, to make it appear shorter.

Just like he got to the bottom of the Fast and Furious program, enforced the “red line” in Syria, tracked down and punished those responsible for the Benghazi attacks, got to the bottom of the IRS-targeting-conservatives scandal, held people responsible for the totally inept rollout of the Affordable Care Act and held Russia responsible for its actions in Ukraine.

I am not holding my breath for this insult to the American conscience to be corrected. After all, words speak louder than actions. Oops, maybe that was backwards. But how would we know, given the way hollow words are so readily accepted as actions?

Bob Mercer

Bucksport

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