Opinion

Thumbs up for cooperation and safety

Business and butterflies

To the cooperation that led to planting more vineyards on Red Mountain while also protecting the needs of animals and butterflies in the area.

It’s refreshing when commercial interests find a way to help the environment.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife recently purchased 2,900 acres of shrub-steppe land for a protected migration route for butterflies and elk. This was to offset the 1,000 acres on Red Mountain that will now be used for growing grapes.

Red Mountain land owners and the Department of Ecology each paid a third of the $1.6 million cost to balance the loss of habitat. The Kennewick Irrigation District is also involved, as it will be supplying water from the Yakima River to the area. With money received from the project, KID officials are creating a new conservation fund for the future.

At one time, shrub-steppe covered about 10 million acres in Eastern Washington, but about 60 percent of that is now being used for other purposes.

Efforts are being made to protect as much shrub-steppe as possible for animals that depend on the habitat, such as black-tailed jackrabbits, burrowing owls and side-blotched lizards.

The arrangement on Red Mountain is a good example of how private property owners and government officials can encourage new business opportunities without completely wiping out wildlife.

Safe Clearwater

To the Kennewick City Council for making safety improvement plans on one of Kennewick’s busiest streets.

Clearwater Avenue runs from Highway 395 to Leslie Road, and in the past three years has had 356 collisions and some fatal accidents.

Anyone who has been on Clearwater when Kamiakin High School students are either arriving at school or leaving the campus knows that the Arthur Street intersection is a frightening situation. Inexperienced teen drivers merge at the same time student pedestrians dart through traffic to get across the street.

Tentative plans are for adding a crosswalk at the Arthur Street intersection and creating a pull-out area for buses.

For more details on this particular issue and other possible safety improvements on Clearwater, go to our previous news story online at http://tinyurl.com/pcn5997.

Money for the street improvements comes from a federal grant. Spending it on one of the most unsafe streets in Kennewick is a wise decision.

Stalled tax refunds

To Congress which has not yet passed a tax package. If one is not approved by the end of November, tax refunds likely will be delayed for millions of Americans.

IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen warned Congress that passing tax legislation that revives expired tax breaks needs to be done soon. If it is done in December or later, refunds could be delayed. If it is approved retroactively in 2015, people will have to ammend their tax returns.

Neither outcome is acceptable. Congress needs to get its act together and approve a tax package as soon as possible.

The gridlock is ridiculous.

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