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August 2018

Bill Sherrod, Editor


Recent sticker shock at the gas pumps is yet another reminder of how important it is for America to work towards energy independence.

Tapping into all available resources is the only way to insulate ourselves from foreign markets and keep prices affordable while maintaining reliable sources of energy we depend on daily. It is for this reason I am proud to support the Department of Interior’s mission of opening up federal waters in the Atlantic to exploring for oil and gas deposits in the years to come.

Virginia is well suited to take part in this development. We already have significant port infrastructure along the coast that could take part in this new industry, and data from Interior suggests Virginia would enjoy long-term benefits if we were to move forward with developing offshore resources.

The BP incident from 2010 still lingers in the minds of some; but it is important to note that since then, over 100 new safety and operational regulations and procedures have been developed to help prevent and respond if any similar event were to occur today.

Additionally, drilling and exploration continue in much of the Gulf of Mexico to this day. Industry works side-by-side with tourism and fishing, providing good-paying jobs while boosting coastal and state economies. I am confident the offshore oil and gas industry can be a positive industry that contributes to a better Virginia and better way of life for thousands of people. I encourage others to learn more about the industry and the benefits it can have for our economy and national security.

— Elizabeth Woolsey
White Plains


The Feathered Friends article by Spike Knuth about the golden-winged warbler (Cooperative Living, July 2018) notes that this species favors early successional habitat that contains shrubs, saplings and other thicket growth. See: youngforest.org.

In our Appalachia, this type of habitat is getting harder to find for the golden-winged warbler and 270-plus other species dependent on early successional/young forest growth. Over the past 10 years we lost at least 40 square miles of young- forest habitat in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (GWJEFF).

This loss comes from reduced clear-cut and shelter-wood timber harvests, which create young-forest growth. Sustainable timber harvests and other active management as in approved GWJEFF forest plans create critical wildlife habitats and improve forest health. Our GWJEFF is old and offers little habitat variety. The closed canopy of crowded, older trees shades out undergrowth. However, with sustainable timber harvests sunlight can reach the forest floor and regenerate the forest.

Older growth is a part of the habitat mosaic. About 60 percent of the 1.8 million-acre GWJEFFis not eligible for timber harvests, thereby assuring older-growth habitats. Managing the remainder, the Forest Service can reach the desired (and healthy) condition of about 10 percent in a young- forest or early successional stage (0-20 years old). Right now less than 2 percent is zero-20.

To reach the desired level of young forest, the Forest Service must increase sustainable timber harvests. Harvests will benefit the forest, wildlife, local economies, and a variety of forest users. Each of us can help the Forest Service by supporting projects and forest plan implementation. fs.usda.gov/ detail/gwj/landmanagement/projects. We can contact our congressional delegation to let them know we want the Forest Service to have adequate support to reach forest plan habitat targets.

Regenerating young-forest habitat in our Appalachians serves a very similar wildlife and restoration function as estuarine seagrass beds do for the Chesapeake Bay.

— Wayne Thacker
Chair Virginia Wildlife Habitat Coalition
[email protected] Bumpass


This letter is in response to the July issue Mailbag letter titled “Please Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.”

The letter-writer seems to take offense because Margo Oxendine, beloved long-time contributor to the magazine, didn’t throw open her door to a complete stranger who was supposedly seeking employment. The letter writer opined that she found it “insensitive and inconsiderate” that a middle-aged, single woman, who obviously lives in a remote area of Virginia, was wary of a stranger appearing on her doorstep on the premise of seeking employment. News reports indicate that this sort of person and this sort of situation result in all types of scams and crimes perpetrated on citizens every day.

The letter also says that Ms. Oxendine’s column reads like an opinion column. Well, it is. It carries Margo’s byline and it is a column, with her opinions. And Margo can say whatever she likes, as long as it isn’t vulgar or libelous. It’s her column and it’s her opinion.

I have been reading this publication for 36 years, and Ms. Oxendine’s column has appeared in it for a great many of those years. Rare are criticisms of her writing, but I recall numerous readers who shared that her column is the first thing they read when they receive their magazine. Her sole purpose is to entertain readers, pure and simple. No politics here! Thanks for allowing me to share my opinion.

— Wendy S. Lankford
Red Oak, Virginia



Over the past few issues, three letters have been submitted to these pages to discuss popular vote vs. the electoral college.

The first letter (March/April 2018 issue), tried unconvincingly to help voters understand the nearsightedness of our founders in failing to understand the future growth of our country; thereby contending that the current modern generation of voters requires a system where every vote counts. Thus, a plug for the popular vote.

The second letter (May 2018 issue), a rebuttal, agreed as the founders did that every vote should count at least in a general election. The founders’ problem was how to make every vote heard, no matter the location. Their phrase: to avoid the tyranny of the commons, or mob rule. To put it in their words, “the majority should rule but the minority must be heard.” The Electoral College achieved both. The letter took a stab at humor for those who could care less, but the point was made clear with actual data from the 2016 general election. Trump won 95 percent of the U.S. counties (3,000 out of 3,141). What common sense person would consider that a losing proposition?

Bravo to our founders. George W. Bush won 2,500 out of 3,000 (in 2000) and still needed a Florida Supreme Court to win! Again, bravo.

The third letter (June 2018) attempted to support the writer’s position (popular vote, I think) emotionally. I didn’t appreciate the letter’s tone, or the facts presented. It ends by “helping” the editors to print only happy “hidden gems.” Referring to the second letter as “political propaganda” was blind to the crux of the discussion, which was Constitutional, and nowhere political. We all hope “teachers” get it right, otherwise the debate will continue ad nauseum.

At heart here we must understand that, “all have a right to an opinion but, none have a right to make up facts.”

Only relevance makes a good debate.

— Frank Sardina