Volunteers have done great work at nature preserves
Recently a letter writer identified the need for greater invasive species control in Lexington's Parks, especially Raven Run and McConnell Springs.
These plants are problems all over Fayette County, but they do not define either park. There are hundreds of species of wildflowers along with wild turkey, whitetail deer, bobcats and avian species that are thriving in these two parks.
Since 2008 the Division of Parks and Recreation has been fortunate to have had over 1,300 dedicated volunteers work 4,500 hours treating 205 acres of bush honeysuckle along with 40 acres of winter creeper, garlic mustard, stilt grass, English ivy and Chinese yam. While much remains to be done, much has been accomplished.
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With only three full-time staff for over 750 acres, we rely heavily on summer employees and volunteers to help us battle the invasive plants.
They also assist us in building and trail maintenance, educational programming, and helping our more than 60,000 visitors each year.
We are committed to managing invasive species, and work diligently with the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Division of Forestry on this issue.
We welcome, and frankly rely on, volunteers to assist us in the many adopt-a-trail and flower bed programs, litter control, fence-line restoration and, of course, invasive species management programs throughout the year.
We invite the community to help us continue this ongoing effort by calling Parks and Recreation. If you're interested, get a group together and help us preserve the beauty of our nature sanctuaries.
Director, Division of Parks & Recreation
Ditch Mitch time
Regarding Mitch McConnell and Ashley Judd, if we're lucky, good will come to the state of Kentucky.
Laughing at Judd's past depression? Just another wacko session.
Bugging McConnell's office? Ain't that a stitch?
Now we've got a conspiracy drama because he couldn't beat Barack Obama.
Conspiracy theory? Ain't that a pitch?
McConnell's good at slinging mud. Whack-a-mole? Ain't that rich?
2014: Let's ditch Mitch.
Richard G. Stone
Lee hides reason for law
In an op-ed piece April 8, state Rep. Stan Lee begins with: "According to the paper, the Religious Freedom Bill, House Bill 279 passed because of political cowardice and pandering."
Then, in a pure act of political cowardice and pandering, Lee went on to give all sorts of pseudo religious reasons (the Amish and their horse-drawn carriages, for one) why HB 279 was enacted into law without mentioning the real target of HB 279 which, I suggest, is to effectively "repeal" fairness ordinances in Louisville, Lexington, Covington and Vicco.
Gov. Steve Beshear, in vetoing HB 279, did the courageous thing and certainly the right thing.
Lawmaker's weak case
Rep. Stan Lee apparently is sensitive to being criticized for pandering to religious conservatives by pushing HB 279, the so-called "Religious Freedom Act," past a well-reasoned gubernatorial veto.
Lee argued that the law was necessary because of some perceived "war on Christianity." So what evidence does he offer to support this proposition? None. But he does offer a lot of fearmongering, falsehoods and half-truths.
Yes, public school teachers and coaches are prohibited from organizing a prayer. That's because freedom of religion means that those who do not share the educator's faith should not have it imposed on them in a captive setting. But nothing in the law prevents an individual from praying in school as long as it's not disruptive. Lee's statement to the contrary is false.
Lee takes a shot at the ACLU, which does fight to keep church and state separate under the Establishment Clause. But it also is often the only group to stand up and protect churches, religious organizations and individuals from state interference. Consider the Amish case Lee mentions. Was it Lee, an attorney, who stood up to offer his services for free to represent the Amish? No, that would be the ACLU of Kentucky.
Lee's misguided statements show he's not really about religious freedom but instead desires to push our state toward greater theocratic oversight. It's not equality for all views he seeks. It is preference for a conservative Christian view.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum recently warned the Republican Party that it should maintain an opposition to same-sex marriage or risk political suicide. He stated, "Just because some of those things happen to be popular right now doesn't mean the Republican Party should follow suit."
Does Santorum really think that fighting for marriage equality is some kind of fad? This is not the United States of Straight America and we shouldn't allow legislation that operates as such.
There is nothing wrong with a political party evolving to meet the needs of the people it represents.
The Defense of Marriage Act restricts federal marriage benefits for same-sex couples. In addition, DOMA does not require every state to recognize same-sex marriages, even if it occurs in a state that allows it. Legally married couples in certain states are not recognized in the majority of the United States.
This becomes problematic when one partner, or both, works for a company based in another state that does not recognize their union. They are not allowed to share their benefits with their spouses.
Write to Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell and Rep. Andy Barr and ask them to repeal DOMA. Visit Freedomtomarry.org/page/speakout/repealdoma. Tell Congress how DOMA hurts same-sex couples and their families.
A trend toward love
Marriage has been redefined before.
Fiddler on the Roof depicts a father who struggles to combine traditions and arranged marriage on one hand, and his daughter's desire to marry for love on the other. His daughter keeps pleading and slowly gets him to step further away from tradition. Finally, she is able to assuage his fears.
This might reflect America's struggle to come to terms with same-sex marriage, but some are not ready to fully cross that line yet. According to the 2011 Public Religion Research Institute Survey, 62 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support same-sex marriage. For those 65 and above, 31 percent support same-sex marriage.
Times are changing and young people are challenging what has been considered taboo. They also challenge the notion that we can be loving and at the same time deny fellow human beings the right to legally marry the one they love.
Given current divorce rates and the changing landscape of popular opinion on marriage, perhaps as a democracy we should stop fighting what seems to be taking place — an attempt to re-center the focus of marriage on love and commitment for the sake of love and commitment.
Instead of negative conjecture on the topic, let's support the facts. Let your congressman know, the time has come to move beyond fear.
Jessica Pilcher and Timothy Hurtak