Readers Write |

Readers Write

I wish to respond to the misguided, misinformed misanthrope who mischaracterized the Truckee River Watershed Council and its efforts to enhance the middle Truckee River watershed in his letter (“Protecting Truckee River from destruction is all hype” Sierra Sun June 10).

I have participated in several meetings of the TRWC over the last three years. This organization is certainly not “playing politics,” is not “partisan,” and is not seeking “to create a new regulatory agency.” This group has sought to educate the community about watershed issues, it has sought to understand the watershed through such efforts as snapshot day and aquatic monitoring, and it has worked to clean up the river at it annual Truckee River Day.

Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board was proposing to continue Clean Water Act 303(d) listing of the middle Truckee River as impaired due to sediment. TRWC collaboratively convened a meeting to review the basis for the listing. Lahontan found their data wanting and is collecting further bioassessment data to see if listing is warranted.

Truckee River tributaries Bear, Squaw, Gray, and Bronco Creeks continue to be listed as impaired due to sediment. Squaw Creek’s TMDL will be presented as a public draft later this month.

TRWC is co-sponsoring Squaw Creek Day on June 25 where local residents will pull the invasive weed ” tall whitetop ” from the meadow.

I have nothing but the greatest respect for the efforts of the TRWC and nothing but the greatest disrespect for uninformed slandering by misinformed critics.

Ed Heneveld

Olympic Valley

I think the recent letter to the editor (“Flying safe” Sierra Sun June 8) touting the safety of General Aviation demands a rebuttal. Using statistics from the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the industry group that promotes General Aviation and opposes any reduction in taxpayer subsidies and noise reduction efforts other than “voluntary” measures), the letter writer claims that GA “has never been safer.” He uses the percentage decrease in accidents over the years to make his point. As my college statistics professor taught me, be wary of percentages.

Here are some statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board, which tracks aviation accidents and incidents. According to their data, which is easily available on the NTSB Website, there have been a total of 109 fatal General Aviation accidents in the US so far this year resulting in 201 deaths. And there have been several times as many accidents that result in serious injury.

Some other statistics: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, aircraft pilots and engineers in 2003 had the third highest rate of work-related fatalities in 2003 (behind only logging workers and commercial fishermen), at 97.4 per 100,000 workers. Given the commercial carriers’ proven safety record, it is easy to conclude that even professional operators of small aircraft are engaging in a relatively dangerous occupation.

The ease with which virtually anyone can obtain a private pilot certificate is a national disgrace, as is the FAA’s willful disregard of national security and community noise concerns. I too live in an area that is highly affected by GA noise and pilot apathy. While no one on the ground has been killed or injured (yet), one of our local community airports (Leominster, Mass.) has experienced a rash of recent crashes that have damaged private property and created community havoc.

Of course, the local GA community touts the supposed economic benefits of the airport while downplaying any noise or safety concerns by non-aviators. This is straight from the standard AOPA playbook. Concerned citizens should write their state and federal representatives to reign in this highly subsidized and unaccountable industry before there is a major catastrophe.

Ditmar Kopf

Hollis, New Hampshire

The adage “No good deed goes unpunished” collected another example in Friday’s Sierra Sun when one of Truckee’s resident aviation haters rained on our parade (“Is flying really safe” Sierra Sun June 10).

It started when a letter writer reported some improving safety stats for general aviation (“Flying safe” Sierra Sun June 8). Hey, folks, that’s good news! Whether you love airplanes or hate them, it is certainly worth noting that safety is improving.

But our implacable “Aviator Terrorizor” twists the good news into bad with statistical machinations and then has the gall to object to the letter on the grounds that it wasn’t “balanced.” To be politically correct in Truckee, he implies, any good news about aviation must include some offsetting bad news?

Of course there are dangers in aviation. There are dangers in driving, motorcycling, swimming, skiing ” even walking down the street in Kings Beach. General aviation is one of the most safety-conscious activities on the planet and a vital part of the national transportation infrastructure. Proudly reporting good news is the least aviation users can do to defend themselves against determined enemies who would see them outlawed or severely restricted.

As the great fly fisher (and pilot) Lee Wulff wrote, “Life’s full of hazards but if you can’t believe in your own judgment, you miss out on a lot of living.” The world is sadly full of small people who would limit others’ lives based on what they themselves do not enjoy.

Rick Tavan


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