What's alarming in our national parks

Regarding your June 10 article "Wild West: Drug cartels thrive in US national parks": The massive-scale farming of marijuana is a problem in our national parks for which park rangers are ill-funded and ill-equipped. It has moved danger into the parks in which the public sightsees, picnics, and camps, and it has destroyed animal habitat. It endangers both the public and wildlife - the two missions of the national park system.
Sunny Steinmetz
Lake Elmo, Minn.

I am far more alarmed by encountering mines, clear cuts, and dead cows on national forest land than the remote possibility of stumbling into a patch of marijuana. I would much rather have the park rangers spend their time with the public - answering questions and leading hikes - than chasing a few "aliens" trying to grow an illegal cash crop. The real damage by remote growers to the land and to park users seems very small compared with the impact on the vegetation, soil, and water from legal mining, forestry, and grazing. It's another sorry example of going after the little guy instead of a mega-industrial complex. The damage to the morale of park rangers and the misappropriation of limited resources in our national parks is the biggest real threat.
Beverly Serrell

'Reckless' journalism in Iraq

Your article "War Reporter In Limbo" (June 12) asserted that Philip Smucker [a contract freelance journalist for the Monitor and The Daily Telegraph of London] was a "good reporter" for heading back into a restricted combat area after being removed for operational security violations. I disagree.

After endangering the lives of marines by reporting their positions, he was somehow readmitted by coalition forces in Kuwait and entered Marine battle space in Iraq again. After this was identified, the Marines sent a helicopter to his position to return him to Baghdad. He failed to get on and left the base, without notice, for Baghdad. The marines wasted countless manpower, dollars, and time dealing with Mr. Smucker.

The Marines in Iraq had no idea someone would be so unprofessional in such an important time. He was reckless and irresponsible, and if he had been injured or killed traveling in Iraq, guess who would have been called to put their lives on the line to save him? Most reporters were extreme professionals, and the Monitor's reputation suffered because of his Machiavellian attitude and "How could I be wrong? I'm a reporter" attitude.
Capt. Neil Murphy Jr. US Marine Corps

'As benign as a gecko'

Your June 5 article "Spider-Man's sticky power in human reach" provided an intriguing example of biomimicry, and we at Rocky Mountain Institute (as practitioners of biomimicry in the building industry) were glad to see the concept given such a prominent place in your newspaper. But the story missed a wonderful opportunity to explain that biomimicry is about more than just stickier adhesives and stronger tank armor. Its most powerful promise is helping us learn to live sustainably on the planet where, for 3.8 billion years, nature has successfully dealt with many of the same problems we humans now face. Living organisms use an amazing variety of materials and structures - and they do so while living compatibly with their environment, an achievement even more worth emulating. Products with energy-intensive or toxic-manufacturing processes aren't biomimetic in the fullest sense of the word. The greater challenge is to create a gecko-foot material that is not only sticky and reusable, but as benign as a gecko itself.
Alexis Karolides, Amber Kerr, and Karen Nozik
Snowmass, Colo.

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