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Letter: Speakers at bird festival to speak on climate change

Think global warming is a bunch of baloney? Is the climate truly changing? Can we do something about it so the planet will right itself? For most situations in life, we make better decisions when we have more information. This year the 11th annual Festival of Birds offers our community days of great opportunities to learn from the experts. May 15-18 events are ripe with outstanding in-the-trenches scientists who can and will relay their perspectives on what is happening to Earth and what we can do about it.

Each evening a different scientist presents. Thursday, Lee Frelich, University of Minnesota, founder and director of the Center for Hardwood Ecology (the study of relationships between organisms and their environments), will address the effects of global warming on Minnesota's native trees. How will this impact bird habitat? Deer populations? Diseases and pests in our plants? Most important, what can we do about it?

Friday evening Clarence Lehman, also University of Minnesota, explains how native prairie grasses (e.g. switchgrass) and wildflowers can become a future fuel resource! Implementing that we get a win-win-win for a kind of land use that will also help provide wildlife habitat, lower the earth's thermostat, reduce erosion, and restore degraded farm lands. What a deal! Let's hear more!

Saturday evening is the festival's only out-of-state speaker. Author and field researcher, Scott Weidensaul will address what the Earth has gained and what it has lost in recent years as well as what the future holds for wildlife and wild lands. He'll take a look at the big picture: how cliffs of Newfoundland, cypress swamps of Florida, cloud forests in New Mexico and the Bering Sea's islands all dovetail and affect one another -- and us!

An afternoon activity on Thursday, Gregg Thompson, Metro Soil and Water, will hold us aghast as he tells the "gunk" in the nation's stormwater that is holding our waterways captive with its polluting influences. Then he will teach us about the positive impact raingardens can have in reversing that trend. After his presentation at the Community and Technical College, attendees will go to the Pavilion and plant some 1,000 native plants in the City's Flagship Raingarden. Once established, those plants and their deep intertwining roots will filter the polluted water of nearby parking lots.

A cadre of field trip leaders will make birding tours come alive as they identify migrating birds and other wildlife and relay their knowledge about our Earth in a state of flux and the changes living things must make to adapt to it.

If you are down on the idea of climate change, if you are bewildered by the claims, if you are in agreement, this year's Festival of Birds is for you! You don't have to use a lot of fossil fuel to hear the experts. All you have to do is call the Chamber of Commerce and ask for a registration booklet. Partake of this wonderful opportunity to hear experts talk about the health of the planet.

Thanks to the Chamber, to Cleone Stewart there and Tamarac's Kelly Blackledge for composing such a commanding local event with such well-trained cutting edge environmental leaders.

Come...come to the 11th annual Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds. You'll come away with a better understanding of the road ahead for all of us as individuals and nations as we pull together to restore the resilience of the Earth and, along the way, the respect of our grandchildren. -- Sally Hausken, Detroit Lakes