How Much of the United States Is Wetlands?

The front-page article, "Bush's Wetlands Protection Policy Harshly Criticized," Nov. 21, contains several facts which the author appears to accept without question.First, he repeats the enviromentalists' assertion that there is a net loss of some 500,000 acres of wetlands per year in the United States. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Agency estimates that the US has about 5 million more acres of wetlands than it did in the mid-'70s. In other words, we are closer to gaining 500,000 acres of wetlands per year rather than losing that amount. Second, the scientists quoted in the article estimate that the revision of the 1989 federal government manual's definition of wetlands will reduce the land covered by some 40 to 70 percent. What is not reported is that the 1989 manual defined wetlands in such a way that some 75 percent of the entire US land surface came under the purview of the EPA. To reduce that by 70 percent would still leave 22 percent of the US protected. Carlotta Smith, Youngstown, Ohio

The wetlands issue is a good example of how today's environmental lobbies have gone berserk on land use issues. No matter how small the environmental benefit or how high the cost to individuals, the "environmental" lobbyists must achieve their restrictive goals. Government agencies which get to increase their regulatory powers over citizens are more than willing to accommodate. Y. Leon Favreau, Shelburne, N.H.

Dances with critics The movie review "Piety and Cruelty in 'Black Robe, Nov. 19, seems so far off the mark as to be puzzling. While many of the criticisms the author makes of the movie are valid, in the inevitable comparisons with "Dances With Wolves" he seems to conclude that "Dances" is the better work. On the contrary, in every category mentioned, except the acting, where "Black Robe" is sadly lifeless, it is far ahead of "Dances." In addition, the main element in "Dances" is a love affair between a soldier and a native girl. The movie doesn't even have the courage to make it truly cross-cultural, but sanitizes her with the discovery that she is a white woman who was captured by the Indians as a child. "Black Robe," on the other hand, has a love affair between a white man and a real Indian woman, which is only a couterpoint in a film with many more substantial issues. "Black Robe" is not a great film, and unfortunately does not rise to the challenge of its own high intentions; but what it does achieve is substantial and satisfying. "Dances With Wolves" is slickly executed and only superficially better than standard Hollywood fare. Brian Zavitz, Toronto

Origins of Russia In reading the book review of Edward Rutherfurd's "Russka," Oct. 10, the identification of this book as dealing with the history of "Russia" is inaccurate. Mr. Rutherfurd excercises artistic license of "epic" proportions when he decides to call the area around Kiev "The First Russka" and the area around Moscow "The Second Russka." Actually, Kiev was the site of Kievan Rus', while Moscow was not and is not the site of another Rus'. Moscow was the Duchy of Moscovy which eventually evolved into Russia. The play on words by Mr. Rutherfurd serves to confuse the reader and give the impression that the nations evolving around Kiev and around Moscow were one and the same, when in fact they were not. Larissa M. Fontana, Potomac, Md.

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