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Letter: Apply Muir's wisdom to Goodhue County

To the Editor:

“The wrongs done to trees, wrongs of every sort, are done in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, for when the light comes, the heart of the people is always right.”

- John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938)

As long ago as the 1800s, John Muir, early advocate for preservation of wilderness, understood that ecologically thinking citizens need to insist that areas of beauty and natural resources are valued enough to be protected.

Elected officials in his day faced challenges in their decision-making process similar to the Goodhue County commissioners of 2013. They need to: thoroughly educate themselves with facts and current research; deal with personal bias and influences; listen to citizen opinion; face unpopularity; evaluate benefits to local economy; maintain a sustainable use of natural resources; and ultimately reflect the best choice for future generations with their policy making.

In the last century, settlers were grazing sheep and planting crops in areas now part of Yosemite and Sequoia national parks of California.

Muir reasoned that erosion caused by ranching and farming practices would destroy the magnificent water falls in the valley. Income and profit for a few would result in the loss of an irreplaceable natural environment for everyone. So laws protecting nature were created and the agricultural industry in the park area was stopped.

My hope is Goodhue Country commissioners will find the “John Muir” in themselves and believe in past history enough to save our environmental heritage. To permit silica sand mining and give away Goodhue County’s precious fresh water supply and natural resources in exchange for a short term (50 to 100 years) flow of county revenue means that our commissioners do not understand true value.

Where is the healthy thinking that provides for the many instead of the elite few? That answer is a complete ban on silica sand mining in Goodhue County, Minnesota.

Commissioners, please do not allow outsiders to take away our sustainable resource dream or foul our future with carcinogenic mining waste. Natural landscape is not returnable, refundable or exchangeable. Follow the light of conservation witnessed by John Muir. Leave a proud legacy that bans silica sand mining and protects Goodhue County. Listen to the people.

Lynda Kern

Red Wing