The annual day we have set aside for honoring and remembering veterans is fast approaching. This Memorial Day, here in the Rogue Valley, we have an opportunity to join as a community and honor veterans in a unique way.

A group of men and women veterans from Afghanistan, Iraq and other wars will participate in the Welcome Home Project, a time for healing. This nonpolitical project invites the public to attend a ceremony on Memorial Day.

By our presence, we will support and honor the experience of these returning soldiers. We will have the chance to make a powerful connection, civilians with veterans.

Tickets are necessary, available for the suggested donation of $15 (free admission for veterans) at Paddington Station in Ashland and Grocery Outlet in Medford. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for this 6 p.m. event on Monday, May 26 at the Angus Bowmer Theater in Ashland. I hope the Rogue Valley community will really turn out. — Mary Rexford, Ashland

Regarding "Property owners raise issues over riparian rules in Ashland", May 16: Riparian areas are found alongside bodies of fresh water and have distinct attributes and resulting vegetation and wildlife very different than upland areas.

Besides providing habitat, riparian areas also perform other critical functions. The plants found in natural riparian systems provide a filter for runoff and improve stream water quality.

Without vegetation, many more pollutants would enter the stream. Woody roots hold the stream bank intact during high water; without them, streams channels would change more frequently and more sediment would enter the stream which can kill fish eggs and have many negative impacts on the human-built environment.

Streamside vegetation assists in the slow return of groundwater to the stream, prolonging summer stream flows for fish and wildlife as well as irrigators. Trees in the riparian area shade water and keep temperatures cooler. Without streamside shade, water temperatures increase and fish die.

While residents along streams may have a desire to keep their "property looking neat," the overarching functions of riparian areas need to be enhanced and protected to benefit the community at large as well as the natural systems we live amongst. — Frances Oyung, Medford

Kudos to North Medford High School on their play "Fiddler on the Roof"! It was the best play that I have seen in a long time.

You could see the many hours that the students and directional staff put into this play. Which brings me to say what a wonderful job North Medford has done in its theater department, choir and band.

The teachers at North are great! The offices staff is always there to help. Its nice to live in a community where everyone pitches in and makes this all come together. — Stephanie Loeffler, Medford

This time of year many of us are getting ready to hike our local trails. Proud of our region, we leave our trails better than we found them. Usually this means picking up trash. It is actually hard to find a scrap on our trails.

The next step is bringing the shears, sometimes loppers, sometimes clippers. No, the federal government has not been able to afford trail maintenance since the days of President Reagan. And it shows.

Just cut way back. It could be years before another person with shears arrives again. And don't be afraid you'll get a ticket for poor pruning form. The feds can't afford enforcement either.

Some of us have adopted a trail or two. Others just clip when we have a chance to pause, maybe waiting for a slower companion. If we let up, the newcomers will be so afraid of the ticks, poison oak or the wet, drippy leaves that they won't learn to love our trails as we do. And yes, trails are disappearing into the brush. But that is another story. Write if your viewpoint is different. — Alan Frierson, Medford

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