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Re "Seeing the Light in Grundy, Virginia," April issue feature:

"I am a protege of Professor Patrick Miller, FASLA. He has once again amazed me that he finds energy to both provide a creative service/outreach and write an informative article about it.

This is one example of a creative activity that places the name profession in the public eye and get recognition from the people who makes policies and laws. Way to go Patrick and Terry (Clements, ASLA)."

Sadik Artunc
Mississippi State

Re "Widespread Use of PVC Questioned" []:

"I find it interesting the major manufacturers of metal playground equipment operate internationally and, thus are obviously aware of the "potential" health hazards associated with PVC. How could they not be, thanks to Europe's more stringent codes/laws. And yet, here in the U.S. marketplace, do they voluntarily eliminate PVC from their play structures, just to be on the side of caution? No, they wait until its removal is required by law.

Granted, the jury is still out (to some) as to whether or not PVC really is harmful, but even so, when dealing with the health of children, why take any chances?

Is PVC harmful or not? There are people on both sides of that issue. But, being a playground manufacturer that is PVC-free, and always has been PVC-free, we feel the "potential" for "possible" harm is just too great to be ignored. And, frankly, we are amazed that some of the major playground manufacturers seem to be doing just that--ignoring the issue.

We have put together a brochure titled, "Hazards Associated With PVC" that highlights just some of the information we've collected on the topic."

Eric Torrey
Director of Marketing
Safeplay Systems

Editor's note: The PVC issue is also addressed in the news item "KOMPAN to Equip Twister-Torn Town Playgrounds" See also "PVC on the Playground" in the Dec. 2007 LASN.

Re "With Growth Comes Necessary Discomfort: S.H. 161 Mitigation--Mike Lewis & C.P. Waggoner Parks" feature in the March LASN:

I really liked this park and hoped my comment would reach the author (James Kindred, HNTB Corp.). HNTB did a fantastic job with things like blades of grass designs in the bridges and sign poles to recycled materials under the playground and exercise equipment.

Judy Slaughter
Contractor's spouse
Lodi, Wis.

Plenty of commentary re "Study: Damaged Land Can Repair Itself" []. A study by a Czech researcher in the journal Restoration Ecology concluded that severely-worn landscapes--like old gravel mines--can restore themselves without human help.

"I found this brief write up naive and lacking a basic understanding of the principles of restoration. Yes, it may be theoretically possible to have a disturbed site spontaneously "heal" itself. However, the conditions for this to happen--adjacent source of native seeds, lack of competition from weeds, etc.--are so rare that this scenario is the exception and not the rule. The impacts to hydrology, soils and other physical parameters are often significant enough to impair or preclude recovery in the absence of human intervention (restoration)."

Tim Pollowy
Hey and Associates, Inc.
Senior Landscape Architect
Geneva, Ill.

Also re "Study: Damaged Land Can Repair Itself"

Yes, it's true that plants will naturally revegetate any site where there's plenty of rainfall and there's some sort of soil for them to grow in. Now comes the "but." First, natural regeneration is very slow in arid climates. It would take not 25 years, but 200 years or more in some cases. Second, many soils are highly erosive and will wash away from slopes if not covered with vegetation in the first year or two, which in most cases means somebody needs to re-seed and/or replant. Third, disturbed sites are often left with highly unnatural contours that most people find aesthetically displeasing and discordant with surrounding landscapes. In these cases, recontouring should occur before revegetation.

Fourth, disturbed sites such as quarries are often left with nothing but exposed bedrock, upon which plants cannot grow until either imported soils are added or the process of time (often hundreds of years) degrades the rock surface enough that plants can find a place to sink their roots. Finally, invasive/noxious species are so prevalent and aggressive in some areas that if desirable species are not immediately established (which usually means seeding or planting), the revegetation will consist almost entirely of invasives. So, I hope those in the habit of creating highly disturbed landscapes don't use this article as an excuse to abandon their responsibility to restore the land, and that the article doesn't fool landowners and governments into believing that no restoration is required--cause it ain't gonna happen all by itself except in favorable circumstances.

Kathleen Snodgrass
Facilities Architect,
Forest Service
Missoula, Mont.

And finally, re "Study: Damaged Land Can Repair Itself"

I am disturbed to see this article showcased in your online publication. The findings may be appropriate in very limited circumstances that may or may not apply to anything that anyone in the U.S. will deal with. This article, as simply stated, essentially states it's OK to walk away from huge scale land, life and natural systems deformations, because within 25 years it will repair itself back to normal, anyway.

This, in fact, does not happen in the vast majority of restoration sites (natural or human assisted). Rather, perhaps a few (on scale of tens or so) of the thousands or tens of thousands of grossly disturbed natural habitats will ever "restore" themselves to "pre-project conditions," which is in of itself natural. The others will suffer varying degrees of permanent alteration where biodiversity, food web and ecological processes and connections will be reduced, compromised or precluded.

Even with much help and financial inputs (and energy), most projects will never be restored to pre-project conditions. We can, however, attempt to get close and get to a point where the restored habitat will start to approximate some of these "bigger picture" pre-project ecological interactions and processes.

There are decades of peer-reviewed scientific research and experience published that support ecological restoration in all its varying degrees of human involvement ( or its national parent, the Society of Ecological Restoration.

Daniel Wilson
WELDesign, Inc.
Santa Barbara, Calif.

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October 13, 2019, 7:17 pm PDT

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