Ask tougher questions about sand mining


Thank God that the values of the Wisconsin farmers who sold out to the sand mining crowd are not universal ("Frac sand fever," Dec. 2). Sand prospectors and their partners, the rail spur LLCs, have knocked on many doors in the Knapp Hills of western Wisconsin. Most of us have turned down their purchase offers, leases and "cooperation agreements" (i.e. hush money to buy support of neighboring property owners). Although we hold deeds that others may want for short-term profits, we know that clean air, abundant water and majestic ancient hills are not really ours to sell.


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I could not be more unimpressed by the sand mining story. Instead of getting the issues at play regarding sand mining, readers were given a feel-good story about farmers getting rich off their sandy soil. Glossed over were landscape destruction, dust, air and noise pollution, and the depletion of aquifers. Rather than exploring the reasons why sand companies won't comment, we must rely on their assurances that the land will be restored, but just a bit lower.

Sand mining for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing has real, tangible environmental and personal health risks for those living nearby. Expanded sand mining strips landscapes bare and exposes surrounding areas to air and water quality problems that last much longer than a company's stay in the community. In addition, little is known about the chemicals used in the process or the geologic effects of breaking up rock formations deep within the Earth. Unfortunately, the story never addressed these matters.


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Well, of course, the outdoors writer likes it


Dennis Anderson's column on the wolf hunt lambastes its opponents ("Time was right," Dec. 2). The information that he and others offer to justify the hunt is faulty.

For example, the argument about the increased wolf population and resulting livestock losses fails to support any biological justification for wolf "control" through a Department of Natural Resources-managed hunt by lottery-winning recreational hunters and commercial trappers. Those who say that since wolf numbers are up we can start killing them again without harming the population are guilty of the kind of "fatuous fact dalliance" by which they seek to discredit their opponents.

In reality, the population of deer and wolves have both increased over the past decade. Science supports the in-field evidence that the increase in wolves has helped make the ecosystem healthier. Their role in helping control the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose, and possibly Lyme disease, cannot be dismissed.

So the time is right for a moratorium on recreational wolf hunting and trapping and more funding for research surveillance. The hunting and trapping of wolves is a scientifically questionable and outdated wildlife management practice.


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Come on, Twins, don't be hard-hearted


It's too bad columnist Sid Hartman doesn't read his own paper. If he did, the first question he posed on his radio show to Twins President Dave St. Peter surely would have been: Why can't you help out Becky Ludvigson? ("Twins fan takes one on the chin," Dec. 2).

A foul ball hit her in the face and broke her jaw. I'm not going to get all sanctimonious here, because I'm already mad at the Gophers, the Wolves, the Wild, the Vikings, the Lynx, and I'm sure I'll also be mad at the Swarm soon, so I need to love baseball. The Twins need to do the right thing and give her some financial help.

I understand liability, but I also understand compassion. Help her quietly, then leak it to the press, so we can both go to Target Field with a happy heart next spring.


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Quit celebrating old homes' demise


I was crushed to see the Star Tribune feature yet another beautiful old home wrecked by modern designers ("Before & After," Dec. 2).

Old homes are amazing and built to last, but this trend to redesign kitchens with an "updated" feel with white cabinets and all is just tacky. Later on, the people interested in buying these homes will ask themselves: "Why should I buy this already expensive house when I'll have to replace the kitchen that looks like it came from a giant store that features modern Scandinavian furniture and accessories?"

Sure, some people think it's great now, but some people thought teal was a terrific color for cars in the 1990s. I understand the dilemma faced when the spaces don't fit their families, but perhaps they should just build a new home.


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Support needed to advance health reforms


Your reporter did an excellent job describing the birth of the MinnesotaCare health program ("State health plan faces a new future," Dec. 2). As former Sen. Linda Berglin rightly pointed out, part of the genius of MinnesotaCare is its source of funding (the provider tax), which allows for an effective redistribution of resources within the health care industry.

Sadly, the Minnesota Medical Association has stubbornly opposed this tax from the outset. If Minnesota is to regain its position as one of the more innovative states for health reform, it would be helpful to have more cooperation from our state's largest physician organization.


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Talk to mental health experts, not the spa


I am writing to share my objections to your article about the American Psychiatric Association's plans to include nail-biting as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the 2013 diagnostic manual ("Latest disorder is a nail-biter," Dec. 4). Since the article focused on a new clinical diagnosis, it was totally inappropriate to quote a nail technician at a spa, who spoke of such people in demeaning ways. She described some people as having "bloody stumps" and added, "It's pretty disgusting." You also relied on her to offer recommendations for nail-biters. In the future, quote a mental health professional when you're doing articles on a mental health issues. This was lazy journalism.