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West's deluge

THROUGHOUT the United States, people extend support to the residents of northern California, deluged by a train of storms that have produced as much as 13 inches of rain. The extremities of weather are not new to Californians, who periodically deal with too much or too little water; they are dealing with the situation with good grace. When the storms abate and the waters recede, those in need should be aided. Beyond such short-term assistance, longer-range questions loom. For instance: Are areas being used for building which, in view of climatological history, are better left unimproved? What lessons of land development should be learned from these and other episodes of flooding and mud slides in various parts of the US?

Support across the country for environmental action has waned somewhat in recent years. Expenditures for environmental programs are likely to be further trimmed as part of the efforts by Congress and the Reagan administration to reduce spending to levels set forth in the Gramm-Rudman measure. Such reductions should be done with extreme care.

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Nationally, much remains to be learned, and put into practice, about effective land management and other areas of ecology. It is important to the nation's future that sufficient funding be provided to enable that learning to continue. ----30--{et

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