Another view of poisoning a lake

  Dear HCN,

I was somewhat surprised at High Country News' article, "How California Poisoned a Small Town," since it only provided one side of the issue - and a locally biased one at that (HCN, 5/25/98). While I believe that the removal of the predatory pike from Lake Davis was fully justified, both biologically and economically, certain of California Fish and Game's actions were obviously not well executed. In a nutshell, the threat was real, the need immediate, and the results primarily the same.

Unfortunately, there are no easy choices anymore. When faced with bone cancer in a leg, one must decide whether to remove the limb to save the body or just pretend it doesn't exist. The same is true for our environmental decisions; they don't come without pain. The federal government and California are spending an initial $170 million for the last-ditch efforts to save salmon stocks in the Sacramento River system, with more money to come. The poisoning of Lake Davis was to try to prevent additional contamination of that system. No one had a better alternative.

We who profess our love of nature are as guilty of being self-serving as those who love development. We think nothing of closing timber mills at a cost of hundreds of jobs, devastation to families dependent on these wages, and economic collapse of local businesses, yet we scream like banshees when environmental protection touches our lives in a negative vein. Like the California developers who rally against anti-growth initiatives while living in 5,000" square-foot homes on 10-acre "ranchettes," the citizens of Lake Davis are guilty of saying, "Protect the environment, but not in my backyard." What had to be done caused a few to suffer for the benefit of the whole. That's life!

High Country News might do well to turn a couple of pages in the same issue and read what is published on the problems the human-induced spread of bullfrogs have created for endemic populations in the Southwest. It appears the right hand is not in coordination with the left hand in condemning the elimination of northern pike but supporting the elimination of bullfrogs from their non-native habitats. You might ask the likes of E.O. Wilson what he thinks about releasing a non-native predator into the Sacramento River system and if the damage could ever be corrected. You might find an entirely different view of preservation of natural systems than Jane Braxton Little's article depicts.

W. Dean Carrier

Shingle Springs, California

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