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It seems to us: One big rubber ducky, puzzling weather and happy 100th birthday to our parks

Calling children of all ages to the Buffalo waterfront: There’s a rubber ducky there for you to visit. Yes, it’s somewhat larger than most bathtub toys, rising six stories above water level. This is a rubber duck that will mess with you, if you get in its way.

The duck is making its appearance as part of the Buffalo Maritime Festival, and it’s a puzzle to some.

“I have to admit, I don’t completely understand it, but people are so excited about this big yellow duck,” said Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development Corp.

Fair enough. Giant rubber ducks may demand more of a Zen-like/transcendentalist/holistic perception of reality than the average development guy can muster.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just fun. Check it out this weekend and see.

Talk about being whipsawed. Mother Nature can’t make up her mind lately, giving Buffalo it’s coldest month on record in February of last year and now poised to make this the hottest August on record and possibly the hottest month, period. What gives?

And not just hot, but dry – or soaking, depending on where in Western New York you happen to be. Parts of the area, including Buffalo and areas to the north, are far behind in rainfall since early April.

Consider: The average rainfall for the region between April 1 and Aug. 18 is 15.33 inches. Yet since April 1, only 7.5 inches of rain has fallen at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Meanwhile, in Colden – a few miles southeast of Hamburg – 7.38 inches fell within the first three weeks of this month.

We have no explanation, though we wonder about a possible connection to the giant rubber duck.

America celebrated the centennial of the National Parks Service on Thursday, a milestone that represents both a moment of pride and one of warning.

When Yellowstone National Park was created in Wyoming in 1872, it was almost an afterthought. It had no funding and no real management. But it was historic. America’s – and the world’s – first national park was a place of special beauty set aside by the federal government for the benefit of generations to come. It took decades more for Washington to create the National Parks Service. That, too, was a signal moment.

That the parks have become enormously popular is plain, but they remain under continuing threat of encroachment and disinvestment. Americans who love these parks must remain vigilant.

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