Kathy Reshetiloff’s column on the declining numbers of birds failed to mention the impact of the tree trimming and brush removal performed by many utility companies and highways departments during the spring nesting season. Roadside spraying in our area is usually undertaken in the early hours, and efficacy of their chemicals is evident within a day or so, indicating a higher level of toxicity than the norm. These actions, together with the major disturbance of surrounding areas, must delay and often destroy significant generations of birds.

I took this matter to the West Virginia Public Service Commission a couple of years ago, well in time for highway maintenance schedules to be delayed by two months and still achieve their annual target coverage. Fatuous allegations of the power company claimed customers would be subjected to major power outages if there were to be any disruption to their calendar commitments.  But the State of Maryland conducted a study of highway tree trimming programs, concluding that such were window dressing to avoid necessary investment in system upgrades. 

The inquiry was rendered moot by the WVPSC’s ruling that highway maintenance was governed by agreements reached with federal agencies and could not be changed by the state. The failure to defend or even promote the environmental interests of state residents is typical for a PSC that avoids confrontation with the entities it is charged with regulating.

This is an issue that should be challenged by an entity with appropriate resources, such as The Audubon Society. Too many of our donation-supported entities are engaged in superficial activities to avoid hard-hitting issues in which they could make a major impact.

As with so many environmental concerns, little action is being taken to effectively ‘fix’ the problem. The column’s concluding recommendations of passive observation are a further insult to the seriousness of the problem.  We need an uprising and refusal to continue accept avian destruction.

Dawn White

Berkeley Springs, WV

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