Bond for BHS
[Re Off Message: "Burlington Voters Will Consider $100 Million in School, Wastewater Bonds," September 24]: Please vote yes on November 6 for the renovation bond to revitalize Burlington High School. As former principal, I intimately know the many building issues that limit teaching and learning at BHS. Opened in 1963, the high school still has its original windows, floors, minimal insulation, too many doors and now leaky roofs resulting in high energy bills and cold, unsafe conditions. The floor plan, which links six different buildings with uninsulated ramps all at different elevations, hinders access for students with mobility issues, limits new instructional practices and resources, and isolates departments and students from each other. Electrical, sewage, water, fire alarm and heating systems are outdated. Two accreditation visits by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges have put the high school on warning for failing to provide 21st-century-appropriate spaces for learning.
In 2013, the school board and administrators began work on revitalizing the high school, contracting with Black River Design and initiating a school-community process to guide planning. By 2015, we had identified three options for improving BHS, from simply updating infrastructure to building a new school. Thanks to renewed efforts by parents and school board members this year, a revised middle option that consolidates learning into three updated and fully accessible buildings now comes before the voters.
BHS is an essential element to the city's health and development. A vibrant high school attracts families and contributes to a strong tax base and economic climate. Please join me in voting yes for the badly needed revitalization of Burlington High School!
What Goes Around...
I think that Laura Campo [Feedback: "Karma for Child Molester," October 3] would do well to consider that child molesters were almost always molested as children. It is human to perpetuate the pattern until society comes around to aid the situation, or until other intervention occurs. I have known one of those caught up in that pattern. I felt sad for him — a very miserable guy whose life was cut short as a result of not seeking proper help.
Rather than perpetuate the "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" pattern that Campo is caught up in, I feel it is far more productive to understand, have compassion and forgive. Such tolerance avoids living in a world of toothless, blind people. She might also consider that "what goes around comes around." I don't want to perpetuate the karma that a venomous attitude generates.
I hope she finds inner peace.
An Author's Appreciation
I just read Charlotte Dennett's review of my book Screwnomics ["Feminist Economics," October 3] and wanted you to know what a pleasure it was for this writer to feel so well read and apprehended, in the best sense of the word. I do fear that unless women (and the men who love them) educate themselves and organize to change not just economic policy but economic purpose, our future generations may not survive. No one has dared go so far with me in a review before. Thank you, Charlotte, for your graceful inclusion of biology!
The timing seems perfect, too, in the midst of such visible proof of the federal billionaire-bought government's intentions toward us. To be screwed is to be made female, whatever your gender — forced, used and silenced. But that metaphor isn't mine, and most of us don't operate that way. Those who do ought not to be running things!
One small correction: My mother wasn't the single working mom in poverty; I was. I don't believe I could have given birth to Screwnomics had I not lived and worked in Vermont's rich environment of feisty, free-thinking humans, prickly bramble-fruits, mountains, rocks, goats and bears. We're all in good company, yes?
Rickey Gard Diamond
Brie Back at You
[Re Feedback: "Pass the Brie!" August 29; "One for Wildlife," August 22]: Jerry D'Amico answered my disparagement of trapping and hounding practices in Vermont not by forwarding a valid counterargument but rather by choosing to label me, whom he doesn't even know, as a Brie-eating Beemer driver. These traits are benign and not at all accurate, but I guess he considers them pretty vile.
Jerry, c'mon. Is that the best you got? Present a viewpoint that gives readers something to consider. Resting merely upon the rationale of "tradition" ain't much. Slavery was a tradition. So was denying the right of women to vote. I contend that neither ensnaring wild creatures and allowing them to languish painfully for hours to days, nor "hounding" a bear to exhaustion then gunning her down as cubs look on are worthy of us as a species.
Your turn. But please, this time add something to the discussion.
Hallquist Has 'What It Takes'
[Re Off Message: "Walters: Scott and Hallquist Face Off in First Debate," September 15]: We welcomed Christine Hallquist to our home on September 24 for a house party to discuss telecom and renewable energy policy. It was my thinking that we need to know a lot about Hallquist and her qualifications to be governor.
What we learned that evening was that she has unusual and important qualifications for Vermont's transition to a green, sustainable economy. Having worked with the United Nations Environment Programme and other global environmental and sustainable development organizations for more than 25 years, Hallquist has what it takes to advance the most efficient and advanced systems Vermont will need to be competitive in a cost-effective manner. She is dedicated to meeting our state goals of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050 and 100 Mbps symmetrical download telecom systems by 2024 for all residential and business areas. Such a build-out will foster local business throughout the state and, if elected, Hallquist will certainly spread the benefits of 21st-century telecom and energy systems to those who require it, while maintaining as much local control as possible. I believe we all benefit from knowing more about Hallquist, and I encourage all of you to check out her proposed policies for our state.
Megan Epler Wood
Katie Jickling's September 26 cover story, "Up to Here in Deer," continues to generate feedback from hunters and wildlife watchers. Is Vermont taking the right steps to control its deer herd — a precious natural resource? Opinions vary.
I would like to propose an alternative to increasing the number of human hunters in Vermont to control the deer herd and instead focus on a biological imperative: reintroducing Vermont's native hunters, wolves and pumas.
The image and symbol of predators permeate our culture here in the Great North Woods, as we see them as mascots and company logos. But without a physical presence here, the image is ironic idolatry, a haunting specter. We like to define things and places by what they are and what they have. But we must not ignore what they lack. Vermont and the other northeastern states are also defined by what they are missing. And they are missing their extirpated wildlife.
But it does not always have to be so.
Big cats and dogs once provided a critical function in eastern forests through top-down regulation, controlling and managing the deer herd, which in turn allowed for healthy vegetation growth. That is, until unregulated hunting led to their demise.
It will be up to us in the next few decades to facilitate the recolonization of wolves and pumas in the East. This will require habitat protection as well as a cultural shift to accepting predators as important components of an ecosystem.
Rewilding is not a new concept, but it remains a critical yet missing part in mainstream environmental discussion. Reintroductions must be considered if we are to seriously engage in environmental restoration.
Department Is Tone-Deaf
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter and wildlife director Mark Scott shouldn't be the least bit surprised that more people are posting their land. They're well aware of the public outcry when a statewide coyote-killing contest was announced last year. When we asked Fish & Wildlife if they would support legislation to ban these reckless, wasteful contests, Commissioner Porter refused. The public felt as though Porter and company were uninterested in promoting ethical, responsible hunting practices and, for the first time in their lives, posted their land. This resulted in close to 1,000 acres being posted, just based on the numbers I personally tallied. People were posting in protest of a Fish & Wildlife Department (and Board) that is not representing the majority of Vermonters.
And to hear them talk about Lyme disease and deer while failing to mention that they support the senseless killing of predators is further testament to their duplicity. White-footed mice are a main carrier and transmitter of Lyme disease, so why does Fish & Wildlife support such long hunting/trapping/hounding seasons on foxes, the main predator of mice? They impose no bag limits and don't even require reporting on kills from fox hunters and houndsmen. They also allow an open season on opossums, which are known as heroes in the fight against Lyme — they consume 5,000 ticks in one season!
Fish & Wildlife is refusing to evolve to meet a changing constituency. We should all be concerned.
Galdenzi is founder and executive director of the Vermont nonprofit Protect Our Wildlife.
Amazingly, no one at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is mentioning that nature has always "managed" wildlife, with complex predator-prey relationships that have been disrupted and destroyed since the European colonization of Vermont.
Where are Vermont's native wolves? What's being done to guarantee their safe return with an "open season" on coyotes — an animal we don't eat? What happened to Vermont's caribou population, which depended on wolves for management? As a hunter, I'd love to know why the wolf ying to deer yang is missing from the picture. Wolves equal healthy deer and forests. Where are our wolves, Fish & Game? And why aren't you leaving coyotes alone when they're all we've got right now? No reason to hunt what you don't eat. The whole point of hunting is to come back with meat.
Want to know why hunters post land? Because traditionally, for thousands of years, hunting grounds were handed down in families and marked to avoid accidental trespass and hunting accidents. What's more dangerous than an armed stranger sneaking around on my farm while I'm clacking antlers together to attract a buck? Or having hounds charge my duck flock? Or having to chase hounds off my land at 2:30 a.m. to ensure the safely of my wildlife neighbors they're terrorizing?
Humans Are the Problem
From my perspective, this article looks at the deer population through the wrong end of the riflescope. It is not the deer that are the problem; it is the humans.
The human population, here and worldwide, appropriates more and more land and resources for our own purposes, and the wildlife is displaced or killed off in the process. In Vermont, the human population has disrupted the natural balance by killing off most of the large predators that once fed on the deer. We have moved into deer territory, cleared land, built houses, and planted lawns and gardens. And then we complain when the deer harvest our Brussels sprouts before we do.
As for the deer enabling the invasive species: First of all, we humans are the ultimate invasive species; and second, did the deer bring buckthorn to Vermont? I think not. To me, the increase in the deer population is a miracle of adaptability and resilience. What we humans need to do is figure out better ways to relate to the wildlife around us besides shooting more of them. And yes, ticks are a problem, but I would rather have deer in my garden than hunters in range of my home.
The increase in posted lands is a clear signal that our culture is changing and that we need governance that can serve that new customer base. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department acknowledges that it is in fiscal crisis, but it doesn't acknowledge the identity and leadership crises it faces. The industry voice of wildlife agencies, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, has called for those agencies to "transform their structures, operations and cultures ... If state fish and wildlife agencies fail to adapt, their ability to manage fish and wildlife will be hindered and their public and political support compromised."
The New Hampshire legislature created a study commission to examine their wildlife governance dysfunction. Vermont's legislature must do the same.