Motorist encountered disturbing, haunting scene

I'd like this letter directed to the person driving Highway 395 at approximately 12:45 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the top of Ritter Butte.

You know who you are and what you left there. I am hoping you made it to whatever emergency you were speeding to and, at the very least, alerted proper authorities.

Luckily, I was driving at such a speed as to avoid the same problem you had. If you would like me to share the vision I've been haunted with since then, contact me.

I am curious as to why you were going so fast, especially on a night when there were so many hazards on the road.

Dixie Cassidy

  Long Creek

Contact legislators to urge harvest of burnt trees

Last chance to write your congressmen, both state and in Washington, D.C.

The money to balance the budget and money for schools is in the large commercial standing burnt trees in our forests. These trees need cut this fall and winter, now - not three or five years, or never.

Closed roads need to be opened; new roads built to harvest burnt trees and for rehabilitation.

"The Communist/Socialist, environmentalists are going to put you out of business," so said former legislator Charlie Lee of New Mexico.

If you still sit on your dead rear end, you certainly deserve what is coming and you have let all veterans down who served and died for our freedom.

Environmentalists write thousands of letters each day and make phone calls. Your few letters and phone calls can make a difference as you are a taxpayer.

Many who are working against you are on food stamps or paid by the Sierra Club, Ford Foundation and most large corporations, even our own government.

Only you who are doing nothing can make a difference. Do something.

Merle Brown

  Canyon City

Citizens must be alert to enforcement agencies

Mr. Dick Field apparently has a problem with the road used by the Department of Environmental Quality and a representative of the Soil and Water Conservation District.

In his Aug. 21 letter to the editor in the Blue Mountain Eagle, he suggests just recently that signs have been posted on boundaries of this property. Having done water monitoring on this specific stretch of river in the past two years at the request of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest, I can assure you that there has been more than ample "Private Property, No Trespassing" signs to alert the public they were on private property.

Mr. Field might enlighten the readers by explaining the statement, "There was no intent by DEQ or SWCD to put water monitoring devices on private land," when in fact, DEQ documented a GPS location while parked in full view of one of the three private property signs they had encountered since entering the property. They then walked nearly 100 feet over private property to place their monitoring devices.

Mr. Field's attempt to trivialize DEQ actions and refer to this as mere "egg on their face" travels far short of the truth. Credible monitoring procedures and results have not been a long suit by DEQ in the past and much of their science results were less than credible. This is the reason citizens must monitor, not only the very procedures, but also their end results. The TMDL process is the most important segment of the Clean Water Act that citizens will live with for years to come. Economic hardship will more likely result from the TMDL process and also will place landowners under the microscope of the "sue-happy" extreme environmentalists.

I hope it is clearer now to Mr. Field why our landowners see the necessity to oversee enforcement agencies that carry the environmental torch. I do take exception to Mr. Field's statement that I may not have been here long enough to notice the "on-ground conservation projects and accomplishments" of the SWCD. Through the mix of hardworking and dedicated efforts of our watershed members, they have made noticeable progress in our basin. However, after being involved in Senate Bill 1010 and the Oregon Trout proposal, I cannot give SWCD or Watershed high marks when it comes to landowner rights. I don't seem to recall your presence, Mr. Field, at any of these meetings that affect every landowner and businessman in this county.

Bob Hawthorne

  Kimberly

Management must include balanced thinning, logging

This letter is in regard to an Aug. 15 article in the Bend Bulletin referring to some confusion about Oregon Natural Resource Council policies on forest fires.

Let me qualify myself by saying I have been associated with the logging and lumbering industry since 1956 after the Korean War. I have worked in many different forests from Salem to Bandon, Klamath Falls to La Grande, and I also know Mr. Tim Lillebo from Grant County where he resided in the 1990s.

You will notice how they (Lillebo and Merrit) define their forest fire concerns and remedies by spending millions of dollars to handpile areas around communities and little or no timber sales to affect the cost of these efforts. To define just small trees to be cut is absurd. If you notice, in most cases thinning is used as a one-word description. Not so! It should include some small and some large-diameter trees. In doing so, this ensures a safe and low ground fire. We also have in place a screening process to cut up to 20-inch diameter trees. The most common practice of late is to log most of the material tree length to avoid ground damage and to have the limbs and tops in a concentrated area to be chipped or burned. If this process is followed through, this ensures an early successional forest that is healthy for the public to enjoy.

To have a forest of nothing but large trees is a fantasy some people visualize. They, including the O.N.R.C., are not in favor of good forest science practice. We hear how much the Forest Service loses in dollars from a timber sale. The O.N.R.C. and other groups are directly responsible for these losses because of lawsuits, injunctions and restrictions put on the U.S. Forest Service through the Endangered Species Act.

As far as common ground, there will not be any for commercial logging because if there were, the attorneys for these groups who sit in their plush offices writing injunctions on timber sales would lose hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.

Orville Casey

  John Day

President's forest proposal fails to protect large trees

The president's new forest management policy does some of the right things, but for all the wrong reasons, and fails to do the one really important thing needed to reduce fire risk. It also reverses policy on citizen involvement, demonstrating his belief that only those people should be heard who favor exploitation of the public lands, and it attempts to set up a federal welfare system for mill owners, all under the guise of fire protection.

The president stated Thursday that "the forest policy of our government is misguided policy - it doesn't work." The truth is, the policy works fine - it just hasn't been adequately funded by Congress. As anyone with eyes can see, the Forest Service has been pursuing a policy of forest thinning by prescribed burning and hand and mechanical thinning of overstocked trees and brush. Considering the budget constraints, they've accomplished a lot, but much obviously remains to be done.

Likewise, the president's charge that "endless litigation" is responsible for holding up thinning projects is off base. A report by the General Accounting Office, a non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, found that only about 1 percent of actual thinning projects had been challenged. Logging projects, which involve the cutting and removal of commercially valuable large trees, some of them old growth, have been litigated, but logging isn't the same thing as thinning.

As Jerry Franklin, professor of ecosystem analysis in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington, stated in the Aug. 23 edition of the Oregonian: "You achieve no ecological or fuel hazard goal by cutting old, large trees. If you're really trying to carry this out and pay for it with timber, you're going to do bad things to the forest and reduce the resiliency of the system." This point is expanded in the following quotation from a publication by Dr. Franklin and others:

"The variety of forest types, environmental conditions and approaches to logging precludes a simple yes-or-no answer to the question of whether or not logging older stands reduces fire hazard. In the Douglas fir region and upper-slope true fire (Grand fir, etc.) stands of the Interior West [which includes Grant County], logging is much more likely to increase rather than decrease fire hazard for two reasons. First, old-growth stages are generally the most fire-resistant structural stages a forest can attain. Any activity that replaces fire-resistant old trees with fire-susceptible young trees, or that fragments the old-growth forest, increases hazard to the entire stand and surrounding landscape. Second, logging generates slash that increases fire hazard, and methods to reduce slash carry risks in themselves [which is, I presume, the reason that a Forest Service engine and fire crew were standing by at the mechanical fuels reduction demonstration near Parrish Cabin Campground this spring]. The same arguments hold for the dry forest types of the West, but the incursion of young trees and livestock grazing introduce a complication not found in more mesic [moist] old-growth forests (or at least not in the same degree). In forests with a dense growth of understory trees, the probability of crown fires has almost certainly increased over what it was under natural conditions. Using logging to reduce this hazard must be carefully assessed because logging may exacerbate other environmental problems or create new ones. Any logging that reduces average tree size, at either the stand or landscape scale, including clearcutting, shelterwoods, seed tree cuts, selective cutting of larger trees, or thinning that lowers average stand diameter, will increase the risk of stand replacement fires rather than decrease it. Thinning only small and intermediate trees less than 100 years old could decrease fire risk, depending on how much new risk is introduced by logging slash (or its disposal). Under-thinning done carefully can be a useful tool to reduce fire risk in dry forest types. Logging that compacts soils, creates roads or depletes nutrient stocks simply trades one kind of problem for others. The challenge is to alleviate one problem without exacerbating others or creating new ones (Perry, 1995). Therefore, each project requires careful thought and analysis."

The above quotation was taken from "Simplified Forest Management to Achieve Watershed and Forest Health: A Critique," by Franklin; David Perry, professor emeritus of ecosystem studies and ecosystem management in the Department of Forest Science at Oregon State University; Reed Noss, president of the Society for Conservation Biology and editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Conservation Biology; David Montgomery, associate professor at the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Washington; and Christopher Frissel, research associate professor at the Flathead Lake Biological Station and the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana.

The science-based solution to the buildup of fuels caused by logging, grazing and fire suppression is thus to thin the dense stands of unhealthy young trees which have infested our forests in the open areas left by logging. Logging of older, larger trees is clearly not an effective way to reduce fire risk.

President Bush is therefore mistaken in his proposal to allow logging in order to make fuel reduction profitable, and in his proposal to turn over management of the public lands to private companies in long-term stewardship contracts. The national forests are public land. The government should take responsibility for their management and health, not turn them into a grab bag for industry. In the long run, and if properly done, as many jobs can be created in genuine thinning projects managed, overseen and contracted for with private firms by the Forest Service as in the proposed large-tree logging plan. Trees logged now are trees that won't be available to future generations. Logging should be done so as to provide a steady, even flow of wood to the mills over time. This is the only way that employment can be stabilized; and the goal of steady employment should not be sacrificed for immediate gain that impoverishes the future, all under the false banner of fire prevention.

It is now up to Congress to take the crucial step and provide the funding to accomplish fuel reduction thinning without logging, without short-circuiting environmental protections and without eliminating citizen involvement and comment. To do less will be only a sham.

John Shafer

  Dallas

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