Letters and comments for April 3, 2012

By Observer Upload April 03, 2012 12:25 pm
Letters and comments for April 3, 2012

Closing forest roads 


To the Editor:

First a declaration about a conflict of interest. I worked for Forest Service Research for 26 years. I have an appreciation for the difficult decisions managers have to make in balancing competing interests.

That said, the reaction of the county commissioners to road closures on the Wallowa-Whitman was very predictable. 

That reaction only serves to highlight the glaring contradictions between rhetoric and reality in the rural West.

How much money are taxpayers supposed to shell out for maintenance of an over-extended and antiquated road system? The 9,000-plus miles that exists on the W-W is enough to take you through the center of the earth to the other side with plenty left over.

Erosion and the loss of soil resources, degraded water quality, security issues, air quality issues, disruption of wildlife and more are the inevitable result.

Assume 20 feet in width for the average road. Nine thousand miles of well maintained roads, the only kind that should make any sense, represent 34 square miles of compacted ground unavailable for growing timber or forage crops.

That’s before we talk about the costs of maintaining such an enormous system.

The huge deficits that started with Ronald Reagan and that were exacerbated by both the senior and junior Bush have put a tremendous squeeze on budgets. 

The inevitable result is a tightening of the belt and narrowed management options for all federal land management agencies.

What that means for Eastern Oregon is simple. The rest of the country is no longer willing to pay to keep all of the degraded old logging roads open for the near-exclusive use of locals.

Water supplies, wildlife habitat and reduced maintenance costs all factor into the equation that balances competing uses. The Umatilla National Forest bit the bullet years ago. The time has come for this corner of the state to do the same.

Norm Cimon

La Grande 



Forest belongs to us 


To the Editor:

Who owns the Wallowa-Whitman Forest or any forest for that matter?

Who gave the Forest Service the right to close the forest off to the public?

It is my belief that the forest belongs to “We the People” of this great country.

Don’t know about the rest of you, but I am getting sick and tired of someone telling me what I can and cannot do in my life.

Have the people who are making these changes ever spent a weekend out in the woods enjoying what nature has to offer?

I doubt it because they probably don’t live close enough to the forest to get a chance to enjoy it.

Big city bureaucrats are making these stupid rules for the rest of us.

When we camp out, our camp site is always cleaner when we leave than when we got there and we are teaching our grandchildren to do the same.

It amazes me that the big shots don’t realize what they will be doing to Union County and Wallowa County. It is going to cost these already-in-trouble counties.

Sharon Middleton




Forest plan opposed 


To the Editor:

A vast majority of people who live in Eastern Oregon are outraged at the USFS Travel Management Plan proposal.

It appears it does not matter if you live in Union County or Broward County, Fla., you are going to be denied access to our national forests.

I have enjoyed and loved the flora and fauna in these woods for almost 65 years.

I have enjoyed our national forests — doing everything from hunting, fishing, mushrooming, picking huckleberries, camping, cutting firewood and raising a productive, tax-paying family.

Now a few communistic technocrats (appointed, not elected) from our locale and abroad want to take it all away from me and all Americans who are either
ignorant, apathetic or physically incapable to avail themselves of the proposed restraints to our liberties. 

Not only will this plan be a great impedance of any American citizen’s
freedom of travel, it is also discrimination against seniors and the disabled.

Not everyone is physically capable of walking miles to their favorite camping site, huckleberry patch, hunting ground, etc. 

Our forests can provide jobs, fuel for homes and enjoyment by all if properly managed. Isn’t that the mandate of the USFS? 

This organization is infected with left-minded dreamers and leaches feeding off the sweat and blood of the middle class. It is inconceivable to me that a few appointed technocrats can negate
freedom from those who pay their bills.

We want the USFS to do their jobs. We want them to preserve our forests for all Americans but manage them productively. 

It appears those making these decisions are imposing their personal bias on the populous, counting on the ever-present apathetic American to bury their collective heads in the sand. 

Shame on Forest Service policy makers, bending to like-minded politicians and lobbyists who are pushing for these road closures. 

Will you lift your heads from the sand and write and call your elected officials and demand a call to action?

Ron VanDusen
Laura VanDusen



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