Letters to the Editor for Sept. 19, 2012

By Baker City Herald readers September 19, 2012 08:41 am

Base your vote on reality,  not a debunked movie

In response to Robert Heriza’s recent letter, the bust of Winston Churchill remains on display in the White House despite the movie’s claim that Obama had it removed. I encourage everyone to take what the narrator in “2016: Obama’s America” says with a grain of salt as fact-checkers have consistently debunked most of the movie’s assertions as false and not supported by actual events.

Vote for who you want but please do so for reasons based in reality.

Loran Joseph

Baker City

Why close forest roads when visitors are satisfied?

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has released its Travel Use Study (TUS). The study shows households of 0 to $25,000 /year at only 7.1 percent of total visits to sites in the WWNF. If the WWNF staff only questioned people that self-identified as “recreating” on the national forest they would have inherently skewed the data to identify higher income households as they would have the disposable incomes to “recreate” with. While we are being told of a mass buildup of OHV use on the forest, OHV use only equates to 1.5 percent of “main use” on the forest or 18 to 24 OHVs on any given day on the entire WWNF or .005 to .006 OHVs per square mile, hardly a reason to implement a “closed forest system” or to conduct a mass road closure implementation.

The total for all site visits (estimated) is 502,000 visits per year, + or - 75,300 people or 15 percent. Giving a range of 1,169 to 1,581 people/day that visit the WWNF giving a use rate of .32 to .45 people/sq. mile/day or .0005 to .0007 people/ac/day. There has been discussion to “user group conflicts” and how that is taking away from the satisfaction of the public on the WWNF. But when you look at the TUS you find little to no dissatisfaction, in fact, you find quite the opposite.

Satisfaction of people surveyed in regards to “Condition of Environment” was 89.5 percent to 100 percent satisfaction rating. Respondents gave a 93 percent to 99 percent favorable rating with a 78 percent favorable rating in the wilderness area to “Road Condition.” Again, we’ve been told repeatedly how dissatisfied the public is, when the survey does not bear that out.

Why are we moving to create a closed forest system to the public on the WWNF when there is such overwhelming support for the current management scheme (minus some obvious lawsuits that severely curtail vegetative management abilities)? The WWNF is a great place and the key to its greatness is how the people access the landscape I am hopeful we will be able to facilitate keeping an open forest policy that is tied directly to our history/culture and how we interact with the landscape.

John D. George

Bates

Turn forest management over to local officials

As a seasoned senior citizen, I have observed the gradual disarray of the U.S. Forest Service over the last 30 years. The forest has gone from a “land of many uses” to an ecological disaster.

We have the USFS violating the Multiple Use Sustained-Yield Act by protecting a single species at the expense of a whole ecosystem, as well as communities and counties. Instead of healthy forest projects, protecting resources and providing jobs to rural counties, now due to catastrophic fires we have total devastation to hundreds of thousands of acres.

This year alone, over 8 million acres of insect-ridden, overcrowded and mismanaged USFS and BLM public land has been destroyed by fire.

Have they managed the forest? Absolutely not! There has been no serious forest maintenance for about 20 years. What is the condition and health of the forest? Rep. Greg Walden showed us maps of Eastern Oregon that showed extreme susceptibility to fire. In other words, the forest hasn’t been thinned, logged, grazed or generally managed as it was in the distant past.

Has fire become a bigger cash cow to the USFS than using available resources? Are the counties and communities paying the price for the inept mismanagement of public lands? Statistics show the loss of 30,000 forest-related jobs from 1990-2010. For every 1 million board-feet of timber harvested, 18 jobs are created. Our rural communities could thrive and our Secure Rural School payments could be relied on.

In Eastern Oregon, Baker Grant, Union and Wallowa counties have violently protested the Travel Management Plan on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and sent the plan back to the USFS for revision.

Is the USFS broken? Could the lands that they are supposed to be managing be better managed by local officials? Certainly the locals have much more interest and concern in regard to the state of the forest than appointed career officials who come and go at the whim of their superiors. Is it time to take back management of OUR public lands? You be the judge.

Martin Stroy

Baker City