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Letters to the editor: Legion Auxiliary thanks you; Scenic, yes. Natural? No

Scenic, yes. Natural? No


The Sunday Pioneer Press that arrived on June 3 had a lovely article on the 50th anniversary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

"The river is special because it's been preserved in a near-pristine state," documentary filmmaker John Kaul is quoted as saying.

However, "among the threats" to the river, Kaul goes on to state, is the threat of "invasive species."

Similar to everything else written and said about the St. Croix River, the most important piece of information about the river is not contained in this article.

Along the south wall, inside the dining hall at the YMCA's Camp St. Croix in Hudson, you will find a large photograph. The photograph was taken almost a century ago at the camp's beach. In the picture are a group of boys who have formed a human pyramid. In the background is the steeply sloping riverbank.

Worthy of note is the boy at the top of the pyramid. With his arms raised in the traditional muscleman pose, I am given to understand that this young man from Minnesota would one day become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The most important piece of information contained in the photograph is actually what is not seen in the picture. Trees.

The trees, lovingly admired by such people in the Pioneer Press article as John Kaul and Walter Mondale, are not indigenous to the St. Croix River Valley.

These trees are invasive species.

Prior to Europeans coming to the St. Croix, the river valley was covered in prairie grasses.

The new Stillwater Bridge is not an eyesore, it's an opportunity. Plant prairie grasses on all of the open spaces adjacent to the bridge.

We will then have returned that part of the land to a more "natural" appearance.

James Anderson

River Falls

Whose side are you on, Mr. President?


America is at risk because of the unpatriotic man who is our president. Mr. Trump talks a good game but his disrespect for the heroes behind our flag is appalling. He's ridiculed a Gold Star family and flaunted contempt for John McCain—alleging he is not a hero because he was captured and tolerating jokes about McCain's cancer. My father-in law, Joe, was a decorated Battle of the Bulge veteran. When we visited him at the VA, he often expressed anger about politicians who engage in dangerous behavior under the guise of patriotism. 400,000 Americans died in WWII, over half of them fighting Nazis. I'm glad Joe was not alive to hear Trump call the Nazis at Charlottesville good people. Mr. Trump's supporters shrug off this hideous behavior asking people to look at what he does, not what he says. His actions are no better than his words. Normalizing his behavior inures us to the damage done when his words become consequences.

The president has championed an unprecedented shift in world alliances. For the first time in our lives, America has pulled away from its democratic allies and courted favor with totalitarian states. His infatuation with Putin is documented. It puts our elections at risk. He has yet to speak about the urgency of safeguarding our electoral system from Russian meddling. Can you imagine John Kennedy or Dwight Eisenhower turning a blind eye? He's imposed harmful tariffs on Mexico, Canada, France and other allies while relaxing sanctions and saving China's rogue tech giant ZTE. He's granted a summit to Kim, an erratic leader, guilty of atrocious human rights violations, without demanding, in advance, something in return. Russia, China, and North Korea get a pass on their behavior while he betrays long time allies on issues like NAFTA, TPT, the Paris Treaty, Iran pact and tariffs. We are losing our friends and moving toward the waiting arms of what George W. Bush would call an axis of evil.

What's behind this? It's clear from Mr. Trump's wanton use of presidential pardons that he chafes under the American system of justice and oversight. His attacks on the FBI, CIA and Department of Justice undercut the founding precept of our country—no one is above the law. That covenant used to set us apart but Mr. Trump has made a joke of it.

Mr. Trump was an autocrat before he became president. He's a bigger one now, hoping to join the world society of autocratic leaders, freeing himself from accountability to all Americans, especially, the "little guy." It's a cold hard fact. When was the last time you saw America criticized by Canada, Mexico, France and the other NATO countries while Russia, China and North Korea curry favor? Never. This will not end well unless we elect representatives who will demand, "Whose side are you on Mr. President?"

Dan Woll

River Falls

Legion Auxiliary thanks you


The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 121 of River Falls wants to thank Dick's IGA, Family Fresh Foods and Shopko the space provided us for our Poppy Day. We also want to thank everyone who donated for poppies for the month of May.

Each year American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of red crepe paper poppies in exchange for contributions to assist veterans and their families.

The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and it is worn by Americans to honor those who served and died for their country.

Donations received by Auxiliary volunteers for the poppies are used exclusively for veterans and their families.

Jeanne Williams

Unit 121 Poppy Chairman


Better described as 'global weirding'


Traditionally May is a temperate month, a more or less gentle easing into warmer weather. We enjoy the return of beloved bird species and the world turns green. Forsythia, lilac, bridal veil and honeysuckle spill their fragrances in the breeze, and we accommodate the gradual transition from extremes of winter to extremes of summer.

This May the familiar patterns do not hold. Not long after mid-month, brutally hot and humid weather of the kind we associate with July moved in.

On Memorial Day Twin Cities temperatures climbed to 100 degrees, the earliest date to reach three digits on record.

A look back at this past spring reveals other disruptions of the usual patterns.

NASA lists March 2018 as one of the six warmest Marches on record.

At the other extreme, this past April, according to Minnesota Public Radio, was one of the five coldest Aprils in state history. At 1.6 inches, April 2018 broke the previous daily average April snow depth of 1.3 inches.

MPR weatherman Mark Seeley noted that April gave farmers the latest start to the planting season since 1979.

Some have suggested that what's happening now is better described as "global weirding" rather than "global warming." With eight of the last ten years among the ten hottest years on record worldwide, the earth is surely warming, but our local experience of the change may be more of unpredictable extremes and intense stalled weather systems than of heat.

We may experience a sense of disorientation as the familiar, deeply ingrained seasonal patterns weaken. We are right to worry about the unpredictability of these violent shifts and their implications for public health and safety. We will pay in more than uncertainty if we fail to meet the challenge of climate change together.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls