Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Jim Martin

The Forest Service is happy now, they have lots of fires. Let's look at their policy and laws and see why they are so pleased with fire and at the same time uncover the reason they want to shut down the roads and deny the people access to the forests.

"Fuel load" is their term for dead, dying trees, brush and combustible litter that greatly accelerates and intensifies a forest fire. They used to have programs to reduce fuel load, and local wood cutters played a large part. Most programs were cut and severe restrictions were implemented over the years limiting the wood cutters' ability to remove dead wood. There are way too many restrictions to list but here are a fewthat show their intent.

Some areas, so thick with dead trees and good wood, that are impossible to walk through have been posted "No Woodcutting - Old Growth Forest." Each year it gets worse, just waiting for a spark.

Wood cutting is prohibited Dec. 1 through April 30. Why? Because our pickups caused erosion? Yet some logging contracts call for snow to prevent damage to soil and small trees.

Whyw is it illegal to cut dead, down or standing, ponderosa pine? It is a most volatile wood and makes great forest fires. There are tons of it out there. What good is it to the woodpecker when it all burns?

Look at the restrictions on cutting down snags. Yet they are the first thing cut on the fire line to protect workers and prevent flying burning embers. Remember, all of these restrictions carry severe penalties and fines.

There are pages of laws restricting anyone wanting to remove dead wood from the forest. Any thinking person can only conclude that the U. S. Forest Service does not want the fuel load reduced on the forest. And that is why they want to close thousands of miles of roads. It prevents the removal of dead wood. Each yearthe fuel load gets deeper and inevitably it will burn. A few big fires each year throughout the West is what they want.

Look at all the dollars they can demand from Congress at their budget hearings. All those hundreds of homes and thousands of acres of forest burned this summer will reap them millions. That means more and bigger offices, higher wages, more planes and equipment, more people to boss and more bosses. Plus more armed wood cops to force their will on the people.

Why can't this road closure issue be put on the ballot this fall and let, "We the People" voice our desires, instead of some bureaucratic arm of the federal government?

I agree with Mike Ragsdale, we cannot let them shut down one mile, not even an inch of our roads. Let's demand that they reopen closed roads so the fuel load can be reduced. Let's get back to preventing fire, instead of fomenting it.

Also, let's elect people that will reverse the insane policies of our government.

Jim Martin of Baker City is a retired Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee.