What Would Walter Cronkite Say?

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During WRAL's Save Our Sounds campaign I had the pleasure of spending a Saturday with legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite. He offered many pearls of wisdom that day as we flew by plane and helicopter across the coastal estuaries of NC. When asked what North Carolinians could do to help bring about needed changes to the environment Cronkite said the old fashioned approach is still best: write your senators and representatives in Congress. I asked Walter "but do they really read those letters?" He answered: "They may not read those letters but they COUNT them." In other words if you can muster a major letter writing campaign volume really does matter.

If opponents of the Navy's plan to build a landing strip next to the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge want to get their way they had better start writing letters. Governor Easley has written the Navy asking that it reconsider its plan to build in Washington and Beaufort counties and consider alternative sites. But US Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr are uncommitted on the issue despite years of study. The feeling is that if Dole, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, were to tell the Navy she is against the Pocosin Lakes site then the Navy would look elsewhere. Burr has disappointed many eastern NC residents by stating that he doesn't feel it is his position to tell the Navy what to do.

Having seen the beauty and grandeur of the Pocosin Lakes area with its majestic snowgeese and trumpeting tundra swans I am amazed that the Navy continues to push forward. Pocosin site opponents view this as a lose-lose situation now. The birds will create a danger for the Navy planes and their pilots. An environmental treasure could be destroyed. Why not put that landing strip on a safer and more desirable alternative site? That's what a lot of people are asking.

I haven't talked with Walter Cronkite lately but I am sure he would have some straightforward advice on this issue: Write Senators Dole and Burr and get your friends and neighbors to write. Write until the right decision is made.

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