Letters to the Editor, Jan. 5

"Vanishing Vermonters" highlights important issue

To the Editor,

The issues highlighted in "Vanishing Vermonters" are exactly why I live in Arkansas instead of Vermont. I couldn't make ends meet after retiring from the Air Force in 1994 and moving home. I hung on for 10 years, living first in Bennington and then Burlington, and back and forth again. I borrowed to the hilt on student loans and finished my undergrad and most of my grad work while bar-tending at night. It was a losing battle after I got out of school and the loans came due, in spite of landing a federal job in 2003 I realized I could not survive in Burlington or indeed, anywhere in the state. A living wage in VT is truly hard to come by. I left for a job in Arkansas in 2004 and even at the same rate of pay it was like getting a sudden $500/mo raise because the cost of living here is not insane. I would love to move home again but I'm afraid I'll have to settle for visiting as often as I can.

Kim Coryat, Little Rock AR

Kindness counts

As we welcome 2018 with new resolutions and plans for the future I want to mention acts of kindness that have really made a difference in my life. At the end of a snowy day Garry Dufour, with carollers from UCC, appeared with Christmas music and a hot turkey dinner complete with cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatos and green beans.In the harvest season Garry also supplied the community with vegetables he had grown in his garden. His offers to assist in times of need and his generosity to do good whenever possible is so needed in this world where everyone is so busy. These acts are appreciated more than words can express.

Grace Wise, Dorset

Consider the coyotes

To the Editor,

It does not require a very deep dive on social media to find gleeful "attaboys" and detailed sharing of body counts and bloodlust, all directed at coyotes. Now we learn of yet another statewide killing contest that has been scheduled for the entire month of February and hosted by a retailer and gun club in Windham County. And afterwards we will no doubt be treated to triumphant photos of coyote corpses stacked like cordwood.The joy of killing is nothing new; and coyotes have been a favorite scapegoat as long as humans have been raising livestock. It's bad enough that Vermont has a perpetual open season on coyotes. But the sheer recklessness of mowing down as many animals as possible, with the goal of winning a prize, is something we should all come together to condemn; not only because it exalts blood sport as something worthy, but because it is a stain on Vermont's image.Equally disturbing is the current open season on coyotes, who may be killed 365 days of the year, day or night. The wasteful killing of coyotes, with hunters leaving their bodies to rot in the woods, often sadly goes hand in hand with coyote pups becoming orphaned. This open season is in direct conflict with the Fish & Wildlife Department's own philosophy that opposes wanton waste killing. While one can always hope that people might find something more constructive to do than to "harvest" as many coyotes as they possibly can, the culpability really lies with the Fish and Wildlife Department. It is the FWD that is tasked with safeguarding and preserving Vermont's wildlife for all its citizens, most of who object to the wasteful killing of wildlife. A survey performed by University of Vermont's Center for Rural Studies asked Vermont residents the following: "Should Vermont wildlife policies prohibit the "wanton waste" of wildlife, except when these animals are causing damage to property or agricultural products?" The poll results revealed that 70.5% of Vermont residents opposed the wasteful destruction of our wildlife. The proponents of these contests, and even some members of the FWD, have taken issue with this poll because it clearly undermines their position. It provides powerful evidence that public sentiment is turning away from practices like this and that the time has come for a real paradigm shift.

Lisa Jablow, Brattleboro

Addressing real problems

To the Editor,

I would like to thank Sen. Christopher Pearson for his commentary in VTDigger. Sen Pearson, P-D. represents Chittenden County in the Vermont Senate and serves on the Senate Natural Resource & Energy Committee. The commentary is titled: Christopher Pearson: Farmers, money, cows and water quality.In his commentary the Senator ties together Vermont's degrading water quality, milk prices and farm management practices. This is the first comment I have read about Vermont's degrading water quality that makes sense. There has been hard work and research into the causes and suggested cures to our water contamination problems. From what I have read the burden is going to be placed on the taxpayers in a big way to mitigate the troubles. The phrase:" all Vermonters have to pay for clean water" has been put out as if it's the mantra of government.I must admit; the phrase gets under my skin in a nasty way. When I travel upstate to the Lake Champlain area and see the large-scale dairy farms right along the lake it doesn't take much thought as to where most of the phosphorus effecting the lake is coming from. I frequently travel up Rt. 30 through the Mettawee valley and here farms spread manure right next to the river. It's clear as to where the run-off flows. Senator Pearson says 50% of the degrading water is due to conventional dairy farming practices. I don't think he is not making this up. So why are all taxpayers expected to pay to have Vermont water cleaner? I know the argument about what the farm economy and overall value farms bring to the state. But so far all I have heard are plans that do not address the main root cause of the problem. This is not to say that farmers have not changed many of the practices. They have through regulation and a farmers caring consciousness about what practices would be the best for the land and the water. But over the many years it just does not appear that it's working for our lakes and rivers. So, state officials want to direct more money into different plans instead of coming face to face with the hard reality that dairy farming in Vermont must change if there is going to be cleaner water. Senator Pearson offers a direction that is not the only solution, but it sure makes the most sense that I've heard to date.

Joseph Boutin, Sunderland


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