Tonawanda News

Opinion

March 23, 2013

Hitting against a federal wall

Tonawanda News — Let’s start off with Freedom of Speech.

Each spring, the New York Forest Owners Association hosts a brunch for members, the topics of which are varied. This year, it was decided to once again have the event at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve & Environmental Education Center in Depew. (If you’ve never been there, take the family and visit this remarkable nature preserve.) The site chosen, the committee asked Kim Sherwood, a foremost authority on shale gas drilling (called fracking) to come and talk about the major differences between traditional vertical drilling that has occurred in WNY for a long time, and high volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Because Kim is a hydrologist and watershed planner whose career included work for the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and a person with degrees in forest hydrology, it seemed a great way to hear both sides of the question from a foremost authority.

So my sister, chairman of the local NYFOA group, asked Reinstein if we could again use its facilities. The answer initially was, “of course.” But when the director heard the word “fracking,” she apologized and said NYFOA could not use the site as it is run now by the DEC, which will not allow fracking discussions at its sites. This talk, my sister tried to explained, is not to instigate anyone to form protests — it’s simply informational. To no avail.

So another place for our event has been chosen. However, if anyone has any idea that the government is in control, reread this again — Freedom of Speech, my foot.

•••

Last week, Ken Diegelman from Tonawanda, a very knowledgeable arborist and horticulturist, called to say the daffodils in the median on Clinton Street were up about six or so inches. Each year, Ken, who watches out for the thousands of daffodils planted in the median, requests a photographer to come and take a photo when they bloom. I explained that it is difficult to arrange a photo of the flowers on a certain day due to weather, etc., however, it he’d like to take a photo, the News would be glad to print it. We chatted awhile about plants, trees and flowers (a most enjoyable conversation) and then he asked if I had any “salix discolor,” to which I pled dumb. He laughed “It’s the Latin name for pussy willows,” he said. No, sad to say I no longer have a pussy willow shrub and had no branches here. He assured me he would drop off some branches for me (which he did) and also would take some daffodil photos and bring over the negatives. When I told him we don’t use negatives only the photo, he quipped: “Well some people say I have a phone, but I really just have two cans and a string.”

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