Letters to the Editor: Nov. 13, 2013

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The dirt on soil

I commend you for The Sentinel-News’ exclusive on the Shelby Conservation District (“Spending Your Tax Dollars: Investing in dirt and water,” Sept. 25). I also salute Lisa King for her excellent reporting on what the conservation district does and what it means to all the citizens of the county.

I have worked closely with conservation districts, statewide and nationally, for more than 30 years. Their value and service, although often overlooked, have been and continue to be very significant. Hugh Hammond Bennett, generally recognized as the "father of soil conservation" and the major driving force in the establishment of conservation districts, stated: "I consider the soil conservation districts movement one of the most important developments in the whole history of agriculture. It has proved even more effective, I am convinced, than we had dared to expect." Although he made that statement in 1960, and agriculture has changed a lot since then, I think the central truth of the statement still applies.

The title of the article on the front page, though, struck a raw nerve within me. The investment is not in “dirt;” it is in soil. The title is misleading to your readers.

Who wants their tax money invested in “dirt”? I am a taxpayer in Shelby County, and I don't want my money spent that way. But I am very happy to have my tax money invested in wise land use, and soil conservation is an important element of judicious land management.

There are very distinct differences between soil and “dirt.” Soil is alive, e.g., generally over 1 billion microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil. Dirt is inert. The soil is a dynamic, three-dimensional piece of landscape that supports plant growth and provides a physical, chemical and biological environment for the exchange of water, nutrients, energy and air. Dirt does not do any of those things.

Maurice G. Cook, Ph.D.

Raleigh, N.C.


Summer at the library

My grandson and I had a wonderful time at the library this summer. He took part in the summer reading program as well as the shows. We saw a clown show, a magic show, an animal show and a historian from the local historical society. All these people told us about their careers and gave encouragement about staying in school and lessons for daily life. We also took part in a slip n slide with bubbles, which the children went crazy over, and wrapped it up with a free swim party at the local pool.

My grandson loved going to the library and checking out books and enjoyed the programs, crafts and refreshments that followed each event.

Sarabeth Farabee made each child and their caretaker welcome, whether they were signed up or not. She is a very gracious lady and promotes the public library in every possible way.

Thank you Commonwealth Bank for the promotion of these programs and all the other programs at the Shelby County Public Library. What a wonderful way to support the children and adults of this county.

Eula Masters

Braden Masters