LETTER: Is Forest Service misleading the public?

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The Forest Service is using collaboration as the latest scam to convince the public its forests are broken and that logging is the cure. The Forest Service is paying collaborative partners that support this lie so it can hand more public trees over to private industry.

Through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, the Forest Service pays collaborative partners up to four times their own investment in time to participate in logging and other “restoration” projects. In Montana, one partner provided no cash to the program but walked away with $2.5 million in federal funds.

While some of this money may get used for non-logging restoration work, numerous recipients have asked Congress to support logging as “restoration,” to reduce delays due to litigation, and to work with them, not those that oppose collaboration. In other words, they want more money from Congress to help them perpetuate the lie that public forests are sick and they want Congress to ignore those that disagree so the logging “cure” can be expedited.

The Forest Service does not want you to know that scientific research shows public forests are not sick and that logging creates more problems than it pretends to solve. The Forest Service has repeatedly attempted to stop such research from being reported in scientific publications.

Every good lie needs a villain, so the Forest Service paints trees and the people who defend them as villains. Though critical as wildlife habitat, both when alive and dead, trees are instead vilified as wildfire fuel and useless biomass. And those that respect research showing the logging cure will do more harm than good are labeled as misfits that refuse to collaborate.

The issue isn’t collaboration. It’s about your tax dollars funding lies that turn vital public wildlife habitat into private stacks of boards. —Keith Hammer, Kalispell, Swan View Coalition

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