Can we re-assess forest policies?
I was surprised to see multiple letters to the editor in the Inter Lake this week complaining about poor forest and fire management resulting in our current horrendous fire situation in the Flathead and the loss of Sperry Chalet.
Though I don’t care for Monday morning quarterbacks, it seems to me we have had enough experience with really bad fire seasons to doubt the current management strategy. For decades we put out all fires and have progressively restricted logging in our forests to “protect” old growth trees and critters, resulting in overgrown forests with both too many trees and too much undergrowth. We have even allowed millions of acres of trees killed by beetles to provide even more fuel rather than be harvested in a timely fashion and put to good use.
And what have we reaped for this environmentally friendly policy ... huge wildfires virtually every summer. Partially as a result of lawsuits by environmental groups every time a thoughtful logging project is proposed by Forest Service personnel, virtually all logging on our forests has been stopped and the loggers and mills dependent on those trees have been shut down.
Instead of production we are rewarded with the following:
1. The smoke is a serious health hazard, especially for the young and old.
2. Heat from forest fires degrades the soil, and the lack of vegetation promotes runoff.
3. A recent study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of California showed that recent fire seasons produced 290 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year or roughly 5 percent of the total CO2 released from all fossil fuel burning in the entire country.
4. For every mature tree lost, we lose the capacity to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 and the release of enough oxygen to support two human beings.
5. The loss of homes and other structures, such as historic Sperry Chalet.
6. The loss of tourist dollars.
6. Loss of life of (and at least the temporary loss of habitat for) the very animals environmentalists supposedly want to protect.
And I’m sure more thoughtful people than myself can come up with other negative impacts of forest fires, including the millions of dollars spent fighting them.
So, what to do? For starters, I suggest a sensible logging program to thin our forests. Having put up with a thinning project on the Flathead Forest adjacent to my home, I am not impressed with the performance of the Forest Service or the logger. Surely there is a compromise between clear cutting and no logging at all that can make our forests healthier and still be economically profitable. Or is a healthy forest and a decrease in catastrophic fires too much to ask? —P. David Myerowitz, Columbia Falls
Country in peril
It so hard for me to put into words this morning as to my worries for this country, I just watched TV news as it covered the fires not only in Montana but so many other parts of the West caused by nature and humans,
What a waste as they could most have been more easily contained if we had only harvested nature’s bounty, not clear cutting but selective thinning. But powers beyond my understanding have deemed it better to let them burn and to spend amounts of money beyond my ability to understand fighting them.
Really folks, just where is the rationale behind this? Included in the news of course was the terrible loss and devastation the people in Texas and Louisiana are going through. How can you pick yourself up and go on after losing everything but your life, and of course the loss of loved ones in some cases. How could anyone forget that little girl holding on to her dead mother?
And yet as bad as this all is, it’s a drop in the ocean if North Korea lets loose with a nuclear attack anywhere in the world as they have said they will in fact do. Our pacifist attitude has led the world to just this point in time. Of course we have all listened to what we may or may not do if in fact they do use the bomb, but what have we done so far to curtail their development and ability. Yes, we threaten sanctions and more sanctions, which mostly falls on deaf ears.
Is this really any different than Obama’s line in the sand and can’t we all just get along attitude and policy? I wonder how many politicians in Washington remember the photos that followed our bombing of Japan and the horror that followed? Hitler and Japan had to be forced to stop their dreams of world domination. What would make anyone think that crazy guy in N. Korea is any different?
What really bothers me is all I hear from the White House and the military is we have options if they do attack us or our allies. It will be way too late by then. Believe me I am not in favor of any kind of war, and if this letter offends any peaceniks out there, it’s just too damn bad. Every male in my family has served in the military and my grand father even lied about having dependents so he could serve, so I feel I have the right to speak my piece when it comes to defending this country. —Glen Hook, Kalispell
Mitchell made mistake but is a good man
Phil Mitchell is a good man who made a boneheaded decision. There is no excuse for intentionally killing the county cottonwoods. He acknowledges the fact and has offered penance for it.
What you should know is that Phil has donated hundreds and hundreds of man hours and machinery to the Whitefish community.
He was instrumental in the construction of his church and the soccer fields on the southeast side of Whitefish. He personally oversaw and worked on the entire transformation of the empty field into a multifield soccer mecca. Phil is the guy who moved the watering systems around the fields daily to grow the turf and maintain it. He did this while running his own construction business and donating hundreds of hours to the city as a councilman. When the Whitefish Community Center needed contractor support on a project, Phil volunteered the tools and did the work himself.
He has done all of this and never asked for anything in return. So people who have never made a bad decision can continue to criticize Phil, but for the rest of us it is time to accept his apology and thank him for his selfless contributions to the Whitefish community. —Rick Kinonen, Whitefish
A plea for aid from the nation’s privileged few
This has been a season of nationwide weather-related disasters.
Kudos to all of those volunteers risking their own lives trying to aid the victims.
My question is, where are the much needed donations from the Clinton Foundation, the Hollywood snowflakes and the over-paid athletes that refuse to stand for our flag?
Perhaps they are unaware that donations are tax-deductible ... if nothing else, that should be a great incentive for donating some of their wealth to those that certainly can use the help. —Ann Egerter, Bigfork