Beidler lesson What’s the best way to get students interested in the environment? Take them to the Francis Beidler Forest near Harleyville.

Sixth graders at the School of the Arts recently spent a day exploring the cypress and tupelo swamp, studying snakes, birds and crawling insects at this magnificent Audubon sanctuary.

Upon returning to school, students spread out 60 topographic maps, laid them side by side, and quickly saw that the Lowcountry was an immense estuary of creeks and rivers winding through some of the most spectacular hardwood and pine forests in the United States.

The lessons stuck. Students are now committed to preserving these tens of thousands of acres for their generation and dozens of generations to come. They want to keep the waterways pristine and the air pure. They want to limit development and increase public access to beaches, hiking and cycling trails, and canoe and kayak rentals.

It’s amazing what a day outdoors can do. Seven hours completely changed the world view of 160 students. Just think what two or three days might accomplish.

William Smyth Casseque Province

Mount Pleasant Handgun violence

I see The Post and Courier finally took notice editorially of the handgun slaughter in our midst. Our depressing acceptance of this slaughter going on around us is too serious a threat to the overall health (mental and physical) of our community to ignore.

Our police, emblems of order, control and authority increasingly seem targets of this mayhem.

Does Charleston County, even the wider nation, have the desire, will and clout to ban handguns whose chief, if not only, purpose is to kill or maim and whose overall costs are large? Do we want to restore some civility to our lives? Let’s find out.

Alan Burrell Tradition Circle

Mount Pleasant ‘New school’ I find it odd that Sullivan’s Island Town Council can be so pro-active when it comes to an issue that it is overwhelmingly in favor of and so incredibly inactive on an issue it refuses to address.

Of course, the new elementary school will be a monument to council, and its members are therefore wont to act with all due haste to approve a land lease with the school district, and to approve plans for this behemoth building on the front beach. And I’m sure all the ancillary issues related to the school will be similarity addressed, such as bus traffic, pick-up and drop-off traffic, bridge schedules, narrow streets, parking, etc.

And has the issue of the total number of school attendees been addressed? In addition to 500 students, how many teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers, volunteers and interested parents will be there on any given day? The important thing is to get all council members’ names on the plaque.

Now comes the other side of council’s decision making: In over 15 years of negotiation, studies, committees, meetings, experts, tours, commissions, walk-throughs, consultants and talk, lots of talk, the council cannot reach a consensus on what to do about accreted land.

Meanwhile, those of us directly affected by this situation continue to be denied the use and comfort of our homes.

For example, if you were to visit our home you would see the front porch furniture arranged with its backs to the water. No one, including us and our visitors, wants to look at trash trees and deadfall, with ugly vines throughout.

And yet, the same speedy council doesn’t appear able or perhaps willing to make the decision necessary to acknowledge that a sizable portion of their constituents have seen their property’s value, both monetary and intrinsic, lowered.

But then, clearing this problem will not result in a lasting monument to a council decision.

David L. Fortiere Atlantic Avenue

Sullivan’s Island Obama’s stance

There was this man who was spending much more than he was making. So much more that he was going into debt year after year. Pretty soon, the interest on his debt would use up a lot of his income. He took the position that he would not cut his spending until his boss gave him a raise. Pretty silly, don’t you think? Yet that is what President Obama thinks about Republican calls to cut spending.

He says their plans are not “balanced” because they do not include a tax increase. His boss, the American people, doesn’t want to give him an increase in taxes. So he refuses to cut any spending, however wasteful or needless some of it is. A tax increase would reduce the money available for spending or investment without creating any private sector jobs.

He does not want to create private sector jobs. He wants to create more government jobs or government-funded jobs. Let’s face it. President Obama is not a liberal — I believe he is a socialist at heart.

E. H. Sparkman Whispering Marsh Drive

Charleston Synchronize lights I remember my father once saying to me, “You can either work hard or you can work smart.” I think that Mount Pleasant, along with most of the S.C. Highway Department, could learn from this.

Yes, our traffic is bad, but why is that? Is it just the number of lanes, or could it be something else? I have sat in the southbound lanes of Highway 17 at the Isle of Palms connector for 48 seconds after the light turned green for traffic to turn left in front of me into a small apartment complex (or doing a U-turn). I have never seen more than three cars turn there.

In that same stretch of 17, lights hold just long enough for about four cars to go through (and this being Mount Pleasant, the last car runs the red light). The lights are never timed to support natural traffic flow at any given time of day.

Mount Pleasant is not alone. Where I work, the left turn arrow allowing cars to turn onto North Rhett from Remount Road holds for about four or five cars at 5 p.m. rush hour. Not only that, many of these vehicles are trucks so the situation is compounded. Cars back up for two or three cycles. Ironically, at lunch time, the indicator holds about twice as long. Go figure.

These are just a few of the examples that I see every day. So let me ask, is it possible that we could save money and delay widening many area roads if traffic was managed better? Could we not invest a few dollars in traffic modeling instead? Is it too much to ask roads be linked into a remote- controlled smart monitoring system. Maybe I have been watching too many IBM commercials. You know — let’s build a smarter planet.

We need road expansion, but we could get much more out of our existing road system if we worked smarter rather than harder — or in this case, more expensively.

Tom Kirkpatrick Col. Vanderhorst Circle

Mount Pleasant No public outrage

A U.S. soldier suffering from a traumatic brain injury shot Afghan civilians, and our government can’t get him tried fast enough. Indictments are being prepared and talk of the death penalty has already been thrown out for public consumption.

Two and a half years ago, Maj. Nidal Milak Hasan, while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” allegedly killed 13 Americans and wounded another 29 at U.S. Army post Fort Hood. He still has not been brought to trial.

The poor major, it has been revealed, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after listening to horror stories of real warriors he was treating as an Army psychiatrist.

Our politically correct administration, not wishing to offend anyone except of course the majority of Americans, will ferret out an insanity plea from the overtly apparent truth that this killer was only interested in slaughtering as many infidels as possible.

Where’s the public outrage? No street demonstrations, no mass rallies and little if any media coverage.

Well, we still have football, basketball, baseball, Facebook, Twitter, American Idol and Ipods, so why worry?

Bill Reed III Bowfin Drive Moncks Corner