Wind power threatens to silence songbirds
Frank D. Roylance's excellent article "Tracking the songbirds" (Feb. 13) was a fascinating account of how far scientists have come in their ability to trace the thousands of miles of migration by birds wearing tiny "geo-locators" attached to their backs.
But the part of his article that should serve as a wake-up call for those rushing to place wind turbines on the unfragmented forests all along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains is the paragraph pointing out that "scientists have known that destruction and fragmentation of forests in North America are among the factors that have contributed to population declines here."
Punching enormous holes into those contiguous forests for turbines, roads and transmission lines would destroy the breeding habitat of songbirds, as well as the habitats of terrestrial wildlife.
Those same songbirds also face loss of their winter habitat in Central and South America, where agriculture is replacing forests.
If, in our haste to combat global warming, we fail to heed such concerns we could very well hasten the demise of our beautiful avian choristers, raptors and insect-devouring bats, all of which would have to dodge fast-spinning blades of 450-foot-tall turbines strung out all along their major migration routes.
And why would we spend millions in taxpayers' money to erect these behemoths that fail to produce a reliable capacity of energy, especially in the summer, when the demand is highest, and would need a backup source to feed the electric grid?
I can only hope that the Obama administration, which is committed to relying on science, will examine the truth about the efficacy of wind in our eastern mountains, and the environmental consequences of trying to harness it. Ajax Eastman, Baltimore
Aid to colleges adds to schooling options
Cutting state funding for private institutions of higher education would be a serious mistake ("Private schools, public funding," Commentary, Feb. 18).
We taxpayers heavily subsidize every student at a public college or university. But the amount of public money we pay for students at private institutions is minuscule.
Yet if a substantial number of Maryland students switched from private to public higher education, the cost to taxpayers would be substantial. And while many students at private institutions do come from out of state, a significant number of Maryland students also go elsewhere for their higher education.
Private higher-education institutions also employ tens of thousands of Maryland residents. They enrich the cultural and intellectual life of their communities, give the state an enormous economic boost through the high quality of their graduates, and provide a more diverse range of education opportunities than any state government could ever deliver.
But even the wealthiest among these schools are struggling financially during this economic crisis.
Reducing or eliminating their relatively small public funding would be shortsighted and ultimately expensive for the state.
Eleanor H. Green, Baltimore
Property owners pay tax for open space
In his recent letter, Jeffrey Smith, chairman of the legislative committee of the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, makes the point that the funds the state uses to purchase land for conservation come from a "special source" ("Land purchases invest in our future," Feb. 7).
While I favor land conservation, I'm afraid Mr. Smith makes it sound as if these funds magically appear in the state's coffers. They do not. They come from taxes - i.e., from real estate transfer and recordation taxes.
In an unintended way, however, Mr. Smith is absolutely correct when he says the funds come from a special source: That source includes all of the hardworking people in the state who buy, sell or refinance homes and other types of real property.
Its about time someone recognized that we are special.
Dennis Bodley, Catonsville
The writer is a real estate broker.