The May 30 front-page article "ATV boom reshaping state forests" was timely. I read it having just come back from "Up North," where the noise of machines was constant from early morning until well into the evening.
State forests belong to all of us, and they offer some really lovely wild places, but every single one has been spoiled for hikers, birdwatchers and horseback riders by "recreational vehicles." I've been unfortunate enough to have the experience of walking in a state forest when a line of ATVers comes along, kicking up the dust or mud, depending on the season. They are noisy and destructive, but I see that they have money to burn and that is apparently what counts.
I just wonder how the wildlife cope with this chaotic invasion of their ever-diminishing space. The article references the grouse issue in the Nemadji, and I'm sure there are many other examples. We have reached the point where preserving natural spaces should take precedence over noisy toys, regardless of how much money their owners have to spend.
Lenore Kathleen Millibergity, Minneapolis
It seems unthinkable that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is spending vast amounts of money to increase ATV trails through Minnesota's state forests, including building two $1 million bridges. While there are many ATV enthusiasts who are responsible riders, and have every right to enjoy our state forests on their ATVs, there are also many who do incredible damage to the forest environment. I have personally experienced the reckless nature of many ATV riders while trying to enjoy state forest trails either hiking or on horseback. Perhaps its time to defund the DNR.
Valerie Koens, Excelsior
We're going to take it all, aren't we? Right down to the last tree. With the help and guidance of the DNR (Destruction of Natural Resources). As many worldwide struggle to save the planet from unceasing destruction, we in Minnesota merrily pave the way for ATVs to go where they have no business going, so that some people can have "fun." What about the voices of the rest of us? Where is the public outcry on behalf of nature? Is anyone else disgusted?
Leslie Pilgrim, Mendota Heights
The DNR is tasked primarily with the responsibility of preserving and running all the state's natural resources. However, with the surge in ATV registrations, it has become increasingly difficult to monitor and control a variety of violations caused by riders of these vehicles.
As mentioned in the article, conservation officers are reporting illegal riding off trails and on closed ones, speeding (now possible up to 85 mph), underage driving, trespassing and omitting helmets. These violations occur in addition to the immeasurable, damaging impact of noise and fumes while tearing into nature and harassing wildlife.
It is difficult to comprehend how ATV riders, while noisily speeding through tranquil surroundings, can enjoy birdwatching. Perhaps if they chose a quieter, less hurried and more fitness-related pastime, they might be able to better nourish their well-being as well as that of others and nature.
Richard Laybourn, Bloomington
MOTHERHOOD AND PRISON
May the new approach in Minnesota be an example
According to a May 30 front-page article ("Minnesota prisons to keep moms, newborns together"), in July the state will become the first in the nation to stop the practice of separating mothers in prison from their newborns. Instead they will be in a community-based program together for up to a year after birth.
The article stated that before 2010 "women were sometimes handcuffed to their beds before and after delivery and weren't given breast pumps when they returned to prison." Breast engorgement and mastitis are challenging in "normal" newborn situations. Imagine going through such things in a cell without your baby!
Elsewhere the article stated that research "shows that the experience [of separation] triggers higher rates of postpartum depression and severs bonding [between mother and child] during a critical period." My mother's heart cracked open reading that. We do a disservice to these women, their babies and society. May this new Minnesota law wake the rest of the nation up to the fact that imprisoned women and their newborns deserve respect. They shouldn't be living out strange scenes from a Dickens novel in the 21st century.
Mary Gleason, Minneapolis
LAKE STREET'S RECOVERY
Whole state has a stake
It was with mixed emotions that I read the Star Tribune's excellent Business feature regarding Lake Street's post-rioting future ("Scared. Shaken. But still strong," May 30). Lake Street has been the backbone of my family's life in south Minneapolis for more than 30 years. In a world with worsening climate change, my hope is that we can strengthen the local and multicultural business community and build back better: transit-oriented, green, more dense, and better urban design.
I am infuriated by the lack of state and federal support. Constituents from Rochester, Staples and state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka's district in Brainerd were convicted of coming into our neighborhood and burning down our businesses (many of which were owned by the BIPOC community), and state Republicans won't support rebuilding efforts? People from Illinois, North Carolina and Texas affiliated with white supremacist groups likewise have been convicted of property destruction in the riots. The aftermath of George Floyd's murder was not just a statewide event but a federal and a global one. The metro area is Minnesota's economic engine, and our tax base subsidizes rural Minnesota. Minnesota's tax base likewise subsidizes rural Republican states. Where is the common sense of community or common sense?
Gerry Tyrrell, Minneapolis
"Long Road Back: A year after the riots" was simply superb. Kudos to all the journalists involved. The map of Lake Street, the photos, the interviews — very informative. We've got a long way to go, but I'm hopeful.
Kitty Warner, St. Paul
Belief, bondage, freedom, frailty
Something like this needs to be added to the dialogue of letters to the editor on May 30, which were responding to the May 23 front-page article "More pews empty than ever before": If God is a creature of our imagination and belief is dependent on our misdeeds of coercing others into our various viewpoints, belief is bondage. But if, as the church sings, we are the creatures of a loving God who calls us to love our neighbors next door and around the world, belief is freedom from bondage to coercion and statistical tabulations.
Paul Westermeyer, St. Paul
On May 30, a reader's additional explanation for reduced church attendance was "reasoned rejection of belief in gods and the supernatural." His rationale was that "with the rise in political activism of the religious right, my esteem for religion has fallen sharply negative." His logic was not "reasoned" at all. He conflated religion and God. Organized religions can have problems because they are operated by humans, but that's not God's fault. It's ours.
Jim Bartos, Maple Grove
Highlight the consequences
I am very proud of the job Minnesota is doing getting residents vaccinated and applaud Gov. Tim Walz for his tireless efforts in getting the COVID-19 virus under control.
I would like to see a daily reporting of deaths to include which were of nonvaccinated people. It should be in big letters and would do more to convince people to get vaccinated than the incentives that are being offered. It would be a very visible way to get the remaining residents on board and would do much to protect the children (my grandchildren) who are not yet vaccinated.
Mary Ott, Woodbury
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