“The moral consequences of totalitarian propaganda are profound. They are destructive of all morals because they undermine one of the foundations of all morals; the sense of and respect for the truth.” 

—“The Road to Serfdom,” 

by F. A. Hayek

 

The task of propaganda is frequently such that espousing moral and social values, say of returning south Willapa Bay to its original state, is not sufficient. The nature of such a herculean task requires that questions of fact be put forth. In the case of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (henceforth referred to as the CCP), certain key “facts” have been put forth. These are so key that the plans for options 2 and 3 could not be justified without them: 

1. Build a new brackish water estuary and nearby chum salmon runs will flourish. The flagship for this is the refuge headquarters stream restoration project, complete with public funded art, a salmon trail-boardwalk, and a “self sustaining” chum salmon run according to the pamphlet available to the public at refuge headquarters. No salmon were observed spawning there last year! 

2. The tens of thousands of ducks visiting freshwater behind the dike last year — the dike to be destroyed in the preferred option  will be better off in the bay and they can visit beaver ponds for fresh water. This is not credible — so would you believe the alternative “fact” given to me personally by refuge management — that “since spartina was removed from the bay a few years back, the ducks stay in the bay and do not use the freshwater anymore.” These two items are known to be untrue. 

3. The geese foraging in the short grass pastures to be flooded will be OK in the bay. A study by a Ph.D. says so — this is the same Ph.D. who told the county Marine Resource Committee that widgeon do not eat dwarf eel grass last summer. Both of these contentions are discredited. 

4. Federal funds designed to make up for loss of property tax revenue will keep the county economically whole for private property taken off the tax roles and timber no longer taxed forever by the preferred option. Our county commissioners know better and have said so in writing! 

We could go on but do not need to. 

There are two outcomes left at this point:

A. Our comments on the “facts” put forth in the CCP will, if scientifically and otherwise valid, determine the outcome. It’s about the facts. Only Option 1, no change, will be acceptable. 

B. As some of us have been told, the project to breach the dike has already been approved via a different path and will go forward regardless of comments or factual errors in the CCP. It has already been funded and the design is essentially complete. 

So which will it be, facts or the end of truth?    

ROSS BARKHURST

Peninsula


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