People who enjoy the privilege of rowing on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis will be adversely affected by the removal of the Ford and Lower St. Anthony Falls dams. It’s simple: If the dams go away, rowers will lose their stunning course. (“Alarm raised about 3 area rivers: Group cites dam removals as chance to restore rivers to wild,” front page, April 10.)
The late Ollie Bogen, beloved longtime crew coach at the University of Minnesota, was quoted in the Oct. 9, 1966, issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press as he praised the course in an effort to bolster support for an intercollegiate rowing program: ‘The university has what an eastern rowing coach has called the top course in America. This is the only university in the United States with a major river running through its campus, and there’s no reason why rowing shouldn’t be here … .’ ”
It’s unquestionably a beautiful place to row.
But healthy rivers are beautiful, too, and, unlike the rowing community, they give back by sustaining a rich diversity of natural communities. Moreover, healthy rivers offer varied recreational opportunities. Rowing is an incredible sport, but it is just one. A restored river will offer kayaking and much-improved opportunities for fishing and bird-watching.
According to a June 2015 commentary in the Star Tribune (“Imagine this Mississippi”), the Army Corps of Engineers spends approximately $2.4 million annually to maintain lock and dam infrastructure in the gorge. Although net cost savings will only be realized after the significant upfront costs of dam removal and restoration are paid off, removing dams will ultimately save taxpayer money.
Taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize dam maintenance to allow rowers to enjoy their course. A more palatable alternative would be to invite the rowing community to manage and maintain the two dams that prop up its beautiful course.
Sarah M. Risser, St. Paul
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As a member of the rowing club that has served as a recreational home on the shores of the Mississippi for 53 years, I read the April 10 article with interest. While I agree that the Mississippi River is one of our nation’s most cherished resources, I don’t agree that the existence of a dam makes a river “endangered.”
Our dams make it possible for more than 400 students, men and women to row our rivers daily spring through fall. They allow for dogs to fetch sticks and swim in Mississippi River waters. Fishermen, pleasure boaters, canoeists and kayakers of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities can journey from north of the Twin Cities to far downstream. Those who use our river can daily see bald eagles, loons, ducks, foxes and other wildlife fishing and living alongside the calm waters.
Whitewater sounds exciting and “natural.” But hundreds of years of dam silt let loose? The loss of a clean, hydroelectric power source that’s not dependent on coal, wind or sun?
Those are endangering ideas.
A campaign by a large lobbying organization, with no ties to the Twin Cities, influencing the fate of our defining resource?
That’s an endangering idea.
So is a river that welcomes only a small group who can handle the rushing waters, leaving the rest of us on the shores to watch and wish the Mississippi River had been left in its current calm and beautiful state.
Lauren Crandall, Eden Prairie
The writer is president of the Minneapolis Rowing Club.
GLASS BUILDINGS AND BIRDS
U.S. Bank Stadium escaped state law on a technicality
The April 11 Variety article on birds colliding with glass windows, specially U.S. Bank Stadium, neglected to mention that we passed a state law (MS 16.325) requiring glass treatments meant to prevent bird collision. Although this law was passed before the stadium was built, the stadium authority claimed that since it had signed the glass contract before the rules took effect, it was exempt. It did not want any interference with the transparency of the glass, however minimal.
To change or modify the glass at that time would have entailed minimal expense. The state law covers construction when state funding is involved. We clearly need laws to cover all construction, particularly construction in or close to migratory routes.
Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.
Mummified monkey found; not amusing in the slightest
Local media, including the Star Tribune (“Mummified monkey might date to ’60s hijinks at Dayton’s,” April 11), have been publicizing the story of the mummified monkey found by a demolition crew working in the Dayton’s building currently being renovated in downtown Minneapolis. The lighthearted attitude about this discovery seems inappropriate, and the photo of that unfortunate creature whose life was truly awful ever since being taken from his or her mother saddens me.
Many of us have learned a lot about respect for animals in the 50 or so years since the unprotected monkey died likely searching desperately for food, water and escape. Hopefully, the spirit of this monkey — and all monkeys who have been stolen, hunted, caged, researched and made insane — will forgive humans for our ignorance and arrogance.
Christine Lewis, Minneapolis
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Instead of finding new homes for the found objects in the walls of the old department store, why not start a museum in the Dayton’s Project? It would be a unique draw made possible only by time and redevelopment. Wouldn’t it be fun to see all the items lost and found and walk down memory lane with unique stories just like the one in the article? I’d go downtown for that!
Penny Van Kampen, Edina
Klobuchar-Zuckerberg exchange shows how preposterous it all is
During her questioning Tuesday of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar used a poor analogy to describe the company’s breach of information at the hands of Cambridge Analytica (“Klobuchar queries Zuckerberg on privacy,” April 11): “If someone breaks into my apartment with a crowbar and they take my stuff, it’s just like if the manager gave them the keys or if they didn’t have any locks in the door — it’s still a breach. It’s still a break-in.”
A more accurate analogy would be if Klobuchar were to set her stuff on the curb outside her house, then have people in the neighborhood take and use it. The point of social media is to share information with others. Whatever I post, whatever I like or dislike, I know the public can likely see it. I have no expectation of privacy. What other people choose to do with that information is their business, whether I like it or not.
Contrary to what some senators seem to think, we Americans are not idiots. Just as we don’t need to read the traffic manual to know how to drive a car, we don’t need to read the fine print in a user agreement to know how social media works.
Jason Gabbert, Plymouth
WHEREIN READERS WRITE PERFORMS A ONE-TIME PUBLIC SERVICE
From Sam to Miranda
Miranda, just in case you didn’t know that I would pick you over anyone to be my date at prom, you are the only person this is meant for.
Sam Wedl, Minneapolis