Studies prove telescope carefully planned

Editor:

Ms. Bodner ("Squirrel one part of endangered ecosystem," Oct. 19) recites most of the usual unsupported myths about Mt. Graham.

Does she seriously believe that mountain tops are stable refuges in times of global warming? Are they not the inevitable places of the next extinction regardless of any human efforts to change the situation? What is the evidence for a "high level of endemism" on Mt. Graham? Is it not the case that the number of endemics is small and none of them are located predominantly neat the observatory? As for the rare ecosystem, is Ms. Bodner not aware that large areas around High Peak and Emerald Peak and much of the western slopes were logged or otherwise cleared earlier this century? And is she not aware that this nation already has means of protecting unique and pristine areas by placing them in Wilderness Areas and that over 62,000 acres of the lower slopes of the Pinalenos have been designated as Wilderness Study Area? Incidentally, this was achieved with support from the astronomers.

Bodner also resurrects a tired old chestnut from the mid-80s with her emotional concern about the watershed impact of the new LBT site. This was studied for telescopes on that site in the first environmental impact study of 1985, the 1986 draft and 1988 final impact studies by the Forest Service. A reading of those documents should allay her concerns about watersheds and cienegas. Incidentally, Emerald Spring cienega was subject to tree cutting and actually already had an existing road above it on that watershed long before the observatory was even proposed.

Finally, I suggest Ms. Bodner pay a visit to the site of the two existing telescopes. I am sure either the observatory or Discovery Park in Safford would be delighted to host her. She might then perceive how carefully the two-telescope observatory has been built following 15 years of study. How much more study does she want? Or could it be Ms. Bodner is only concerned with stopping the observatory?

Chris Walker

Astronomy Assistant Professor

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