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The Gnatcatcher's Disappearing Habitat and Related 'Non-Issues'

March 21, 1993

So the gnatcatcher is a non-issue ("A Worthy Project Gets Off the Ground," editorial, March 3). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has pulled the same tricks it used for the dusky seaside sparrow of Florida. Its fate was sealed when plans to build a road, between Orlando's Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center through the center of the last remaining dusky habitat in the St. John's River marshes, were announced. The road itself didn't drive the dusky to extinction, but the development fueled by the road did. The dusky is now a non-issue. The last one on earth died on June 16, 1987.

Evidently, the fact that the San Joaquin Hills toll road will bisect Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, created by the folks of Laguna Beach by willingly taxing themselves, is also a non-issue.

There are other non-issues, of course. The fact that a legitimate market survey for potential users of the road has never been taken is also evidently a non-issue. The financial and environmental cost and effectiveness of the toll road versus mass transit is another non-issue. As any commuter will tell you, the freeway system was a great public transportation idea--we need lots more of them.

Evidently, the only actual issue considered by any of the permitting agencies is 1,500 temporary pork-barrel construction jobs. In three years, those jobs will be gone, but our devastating white elephant will still be lying there.

DAVID PERLMAN

Laguna Beach

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