A Fight to Control Plant Species

There is more to the matter than affording politicians a cheap shot in the article ``Texas War Over Warbler,'' Sept. 22.

The ``critical habitat'' proposed for the golden-cheeked warbler is the Texas Hill Country, a region that is in no danger of being designated an agriculturally bountiful place to try to make a living. Farmers and ranchers here can only hope, under the best of conditions, to make their land reasonably productive by persistently fighting to control two invading plant species - mesquite and cedar.

The underlying problem is a lack of communication between those who would protect endangered species and those who hope to make a living on agricultural property that might be designated ``habitat'' by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. A ``habitat'' designation is feared by a land owner because it may result in a reduction of property value; it is equally a matter of concern because property taxes in Texas fund most state and community services.

My place is located in a relatively benign section of the Hill Country, but I must devote much energy to fighting mesquite, which is an efficient competitor with native grasses for moisture and fertility. The local personnel of the National Audubon Society are correct to worry that the federal government's handling of this matter may well hurt endangered species in the long run. Richard R. McTaggart, Menard, Texas,

Aiming for a democratic Russia

The article ``Yeltsin's Little Haitis,'' Sept. 29, raises some interesting yet illogical points. In pointing out Boris Yeltsin's pretensions to the former Soviet nations as Russia's ``sphere of influence,'' the parallel to Haiti and Grenada is used. Haiti and Grenada were never part of the ``American Empire.'' The United States came in on invitation, and has left Grenada, and has every intention of leaving Haiti. Russia came into the nations of the former Soviet Union 350 years ago first as the Russian Empire, then as the Soviet Empire, and to this day has no intention of leaving, as is attested by the various Russian acrobatics at the United Nations, Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and in the US.

Also, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) does not include 12 members, but five at most since most of the former Soviet nations rejected the ``invitation'' to the CIS. The maneuvering of Russia on behalf of the CIS makes the game-plan obvious. Who elected Russia to speak for the entire CIS?

We know that three centuries of Russia nimperialism have wrought conflict, oppression, misery, famine, and death. Let's try freedom, democracy, self-determination, and independence for that part of the country for the same length of time, before we give up. Larissa M. Fontana, Potomac, Md.

Expansion causes destruction

The author of ``Paddle-Wheeler Sails Into History,'' Oct. 5, describes her cruise on Lake Nasser, now open to tourists to visit ancient Nubian sites that are strewn around the shores of the lake.

According to environmental specialists, the development of the lake as a tourist destination and as a center of agricultural and industrial expansion will degrade the quality of the waters of the lake, which is a water reservoir.

Maintaining the lake and its embankments as a national reserve with little or no development will not only preserve the lake from polluting ingredients, but also keep the lake as a natural barrier between Africa and the Mediterranean region. The lands around the lake are of poor quality and lie at a high elevation requiring the lifting of water to more than 50 meters.

The introduction of power boats will degrade the quality of the waters of the lake, and the building of hotels and other structures on the monument sites will destroy the serenity and beauty of the area. Rushdi Said, Annandale, Va.,

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED @RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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