Letters and comments for May 18, 2012

By Observer Upload May 19, 2012 10:19 am
Letters and comments for May 18, 2012

Forest Service to blame


To the Editor:

I need to respond to a letter written by Norm Cimon concerning reasons for closing 4,000 miles of roads on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. He blames users for erosion and loss of soil resources and degrading water quality. I own a small parcel of land in the Catherine Creek area and have witnessed how the USFS manages this area.

Sometime in the 1980s, I believe, we had a big influx of so-called educated people with forestry degrees in hand who decided to start clear-cutting large tracks of timber land in the Catherine Creek area as well as closing off lots of roads. 

Well, how did that work out? When you look at these designated areas now, pretty much all you see is millions of Canadian thistles along with other noxious weeds and chaparral brush.

I was told by the local ranger at that time that these roads were closed off because vehicles were causing erosion that runs off into Catherine Creek. The road I used on Collins Creek was closed.

The Forest Service proceeded to do a large clear-cut just across the creek with nothing left to stop the silt and erosion from ending up in South Catherine Creek for years to come. Well, no doubt whoever made those clear-cut decisions has transferred, leaving the Catherine Creek area scarred for decades.  

Another example of poor management and cost was the decision to install 96 (I counted them) tank traps and water bars that ran directly into South Catherine Creek, dumping all the freshly carved out road dirt into critical fish habitat.

Well, if that wasn’t enough to make anyone cringe, the very next year, they came back and dozed in all the tank traps and water bars except one on each end, which is the way it was before they started.

Now you tell me who is responsible for the erosion and water pollution of this pristine area?

The ATV riders using unmaintained roads or are they being blamed as a reason to close off 4,000 miles of roads? I think we know the answer.

Mr. Cimon blames everyone else for tight budgets that restrains the USFS from maintaining all the roads. The majority of people that live here don’t want all of them maintained.

The Forest Service just doesn’t get it. Leave the roads alone. Mother Nature will take care of the road far better than the Forest Service ever could.

The Forest Service drives by my property in their four-wheel vehicles with only the driver and an ATV in the back. When I worked for the Forest Service, we had no four-wheel drives. I used my own four-wheel drive and was paid for mileage. 

We used unmaintained roads to get to the work area. Those roads were plenty good enough then. Now the Forest Service wants to close off these unmaintained roads.

They were good enough then. Why not now?

Dick McClellan

La Grande