July 13, 2003 11:00 pm

Maintain canopy, layer of soil

To the Editor:

I would like to enlarge on a concern expressed in the June 13 Observer, "New logging rules."

The concern is that some Forest Service cut-and-burn projects might increase rather than decrease fire danger. How can this be?

I wish everyone could take a walk in the forest on a hot afternoon. When you cross a cleared slope facing south or west the heat generated by the sun on stripped, rock-hard soil is equal to that of any paved, unshaded area. This holds true for the almost cleared slopes which abound in our mountains as well. The super-heated air moves through the forest, drying out all nearby vegetation much earlier in the year than normal. The hardened soil cannot absorb rainfall and much of it runs off.

During a droughty spring, like that of 2002, this man-made desertification creates super-dry areas as early as April at lower elevations.

Dry ground has no moisture to supply thunderstorms and they produce only dry lightning.

Compare this to a forest area of deep shade where the canopy keeps the ground cool, rain is absorbed by a layer of duff and hot air evaporates the moisture into a big, heavy thunderhead which pour down water when it is much needed.

I walked through such patches of old growth in search of morels this spring. There was no dead-fall and no ladder fuels. Old wood on the ground was absorbing moisture and rotting into new soil.

The goal of fuels reduction and timber harvest should be to mimic this type of forest as much as possible.

Maintaining the canopy and a layer of organic soil should be top priorities. If these two go, the forest goes.

Mary Cooke


Cartoon bold-face lie

To the Editor:

The Observer on June 18 had a cartoon on the opinion page showing two GIs, presumably in Iraq, one reading a newspaper with the other looking on. The headline in the paper said "16,000 U.S. murders last year" and then under that headline another one reads: "NRA pleased."

I don't know where you get this kind of garbage to print, but you are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. The National Rifle Association is not, never has been and never will be happy about anyone being murdered. To suggest such a thing is nothing more than a bold-faced lie.

The NRA has done more to promote the safe and legal use of firearms than any other organization in the country.

The NRA sponsors many different programs, like police firearms training classes just for law enforcement officers, the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe program for young children and crime prevention seminars, just to name a few. Is it so difficult to do a little background checking on the things you print to make sure that what they point to is correct?

I respect a person's right to his opinion but when that opinion is nothing more than fabricated lies it reflects badly on the character and integrity of The Observer and its editors.

Joel Hinshaw


You're invited

To the Editor:

Residents of Northeast Oregon truly have much to be thankful for. Our fertile soils nourish bountiful crops and strong timber that help feed and house the world.

Rich grasses have built sizable herds that provide beef to a protein-craving society. All this ripples into a substantial economic stimulus to other aspects of our business endeavors.

Certainly, another asset to this area's well-being is our plentiful wildlife resources. Our strength lies in our economic diversity and, believe it or not, wildlife do indeed provide hard cash benefits to our local communities.

This Saturday (June 28) would be a good time to show your support for our wildlife heritage. You might even learn a few things in the process. In cooperation with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited, a special ceremony is scheduled to dedicate and celebrate the Tule Lake Restoration Project on Ladd Marsh.

Many activities are planned during guided birdwatching tours and van tours of the project site, hands-on bird banding opportunities and a barbecue at noon. The dedication will be at 11 a.m. and will include several guest speakers. The site for the dedication will be set up on Peach Road — the first road going north on the east end of the Hot Lake bridge.

I'm very grateful that admidst a vast sea of vital agriculture, livestock and timber assets, our society saw fit to provide a small island of needed sanctuary for wildlife in the Grande Ronde Valley.

Ladd Marsh is fast-becoming a place on the map for wildlife and wildlife interests. Consider this an invitation to come celebrate, enjoy a visit to the marsh and show your appreciation to all those who've helped Ladd become the special place it is.

For information call 963-4954 or 963-6977.

James D. Ward, director

Friends of Ladd Marsh

La Grande

Show of support

To the Editor:

We are grateful to the Joseph community for its recent approval of the Joseph School District levy.

Their show of confidence in the district and its mission will enrich each community member in various ways and will help keep both our school and our community strong and vibrant.

Rich Graham, our superintendent, has shown strong, positive leadership and a commitment to education and to our children. We'd also like to recognize the work of campaign chairwoman Cindy Bailey, the committee chairs and all their hard-working members.

Joseph School Board — Carol Baynes, Mallie Bothum, Greg Brink, Lori Butterfield, Dan DeBoie, Randy Garnett and Jerry Kiesecker.


Bush's wishful thinking

To the Editor:

The solution to the weapons of mass destruction puzzle is to put together several known facts and to consider basic human weaknesses.

It is a known fact that Saddam Hussein had the bad weapons because he used them on his enemies: the Iranians and the Kurds. It is probable the program backfired and some Iraqis were killed. That was an indication the stuff was too dangerous to use, even for the user.

Next, the message was clear to Saddam following the first Bush war that he and his country would be obliterated if he used those weapons. He and every knowledgeable person in the world knew what the United States had done to two Japanese cities.

As a result of these facts, it is reasonable to conclude that Saddam decided to and did destroy his weapons of mass destruction.

So how did the United States get the information that Saddam had these weapons at the beginning of the current war. An exiled group of Iraqis in England knew Saddam had the bad weapons when he used them on the Iranians and Kurds. But they were out of touch with what happened later. They did not know or ignored the fact that he destroyed or disposed of them.

Our intelligence services relied upon those exiles in London. And then we must add to the mix that our president and others in our government had wishful thinking developed to a high degree.

Charles Cater

La Grande

Foundation lends hand

To the Editor:

On June 21 our family attended a memorial service in La Grande honoring our son and four other young wildland firefighters who were killed in a van accident on the way to fight the Hayman Fire in Colorado last June.

This has been a very difficult year for all the families and crews involved, but as we reflected on all that has happened, we realized that one of the steady rocks of support amid all the chaos was the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This is a non-profit agency whose purpose is to assist the families of fallen and injured wildland firefighters in their time of greatest need.

We had not heard of this organization before, but the Foundation people were one of the first contacts we had on the day following the accident, lending information and both emotional and monetary support. This support continued throughout the year and they were in attendance at the memorial service this past weekend.

This year's wildland fire season has begun, with fires in Arizona and New Mexico making the headlines. There already has been at least one firefighter casualty. If you enjoy the wildlands of our country, if you watch the news and think of the men and women who risk their lives to keep the rest of us safe, if you were or are a firefighter, if you know a firefighter, if you wonder about what can be done to help, we would like to suggest you consider a contribution to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This group works tirelessly to help those most directly affected by wildfire tragedy. They are worthy of your support.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is at 1310 Vista Ave., No. 22, Boise, ID 83705. For information visit the Web site: www. wffoundation.org.

Dave and Judy Rama

Baker City

Funds falling short

To the Editor:

The Eastern Oregon Chapter of the Red Cross has a financial dilemma. Donations have been down. In order for our chapter to be a viable force in Union and Baker counties, we must have consistent donors.

At present we can count on a small percentage of donors who give the same amounts. We are dependent on local donations to maintain our presence. Certain grants must be applied for annually and cannot be considered a certainty.

We have a high profile in the community for classes in CPR, first aid, babysitting and disaster preparedness.

We assist people who have had house fires, and we provide assistance in natural disasters. We help the public when there are floods or blizzards, we open warming shelters when the freeway is closed and we provide service to active-duty military families.

During the summer, please continue to donate monetarily to the chapter, as we are not able to meet this month's financial obligations.

The chapter will need to reduce personnel as its next step. I and other members of our board of directors believe the chapter needs to keep the present staffing in order to provide the same level of community service.

I urge everyone to donate generously. Send a check to: Red Cross, P.O. Box 1024, Baker City 97814, or visit the office at the La Grande Fire Department on Cove Avenue.

Roberta Morin