An Experiment on the River
To the editor:
Your front-page article “How Restored River Will Alter Wellfleet Views” (Feb. 27) leaves unanswered many questions about the Herring River Restoration Project. The word “will” should have been replaced with “may”:
It may not work. Science is characterized by predictability and replicability. The restoration is an experiment that has neither hallmark and may do more harm than good. While the flooding may create a saltwater marsh, it will not be the same one that existed before the dike was built. And as happened in the Sesuit Creek restoration in Dennis, unexpectedly slow or nonexistent regrowth of saltwater grasses may result in an ugly, smelly landscape.
It may harm Wellfleet’s oyster beds. The experimental model does not guarantee that Wellfleet’s oyster beds will be unscathed by sediment flowing downstream from the estuary, and adaptive management is an unproven tool for preventing this damage. The project must provide insurance or other funding to directly and promptly compensate shellfishermen for damage to their beds. It is unfair to shift the risk to people who will be seriously harmed if their livelihood is interrupted.
It may put the Chequessett Yacht & Country Club out of business. Wellfleet reaps substantial economic and social benefit from the club. It will take time and money to rebuild the membership after a two-year closure, and the club may not survive at all as members shift their loyalty to other clubs.
It may create huge liability for the town of Wellfleet. Truro wisely withdrew from the restoration. Wellfleet’s taxpayers could be liable for damages to the shellfishermen and private home owners. This burden will fall most harshly on those in Wellfleet who struggle to pay their bills.
Until the project proponents address these unresolved issues, they should not receive permits to flood the Herring River estuary.
To Reverse a Decline
To the editor:
The Herring River is in an advanced state of decline. Acidification is increasing, the marsh is sinking, and the drainage from a degraded marsh is compromising shellfish beds. The restoration of the river will dramatically reduce these negative impacts on the ecosystem.
The restoration will also limit the stress on herring of dealing with highly acidic and polluted water, as well as opening up more space for the herring to run, thus reducing predation particularly in narrow culverts. The flushing of the river will support greater diversity of marine life, expand the nursery for juvenile fish, and perhaps even provide a spawning area for striped bass. Sand eels, a significant food source for striped bass and bluefish, will most likely recolonize the mouth of the river. With the increase in these fish will come fishermen who will add to the local economy.
Although we enjoy our regular walks along Snake Creek and High Toss roads, it always saddens us to realize that this wetland would be a healthy salt marsh if not for the dike at the mouth of the river. We have kayaked the Herring River for years, but with the opening up of the dike the kayaking will vastly improve. The expanding salt marsh will be an important buffer to storms, which are predicted to be significantly more severe with climate change. The restored marsh will also be an important sink for carbon, thus contributing to mitigating the burning of fossil fuels.
This project is long overdue. It will benefit the town, the Cape, the Commonwealth, and the environment. It has our absolute support.
John T. Cumbler
Judith Kwiat Cumbler
Why a Medal Matters
To the editor:
The article on Harold Hall’s long wait for his Purple Heart (Feb. 27, page 5) is symbolic of what happens to many men and women who serve our country only to return and have their contributions go unrecognized. That is why a citation matters so much. They are a necessary point of pride, recognized both by active service members and civilians.
I, for one, want to thank all those who are endeavoring to have Mr. Hall receive his long overdue Purple Heart medal and, if he wants it, the license plate. They will help make his sacrifice visible to all.
The writer served with the U.S. Marines in Vietnam.
To the editor:
Thank you for the articles about the recent Truro special election. One of the hats I wear is that I am the “Town Crank” who operates the old-fashioned yet perfectly usable ballot machine. Your editorial about the old box was perfect.