Clear-cutting article an outrage
Your Feb. 20 article “Ophir Mountain forest clear-cutting underway near Summit High School” is an outrage, both for poor journalism and for the nerve of the U.S. Forest Service to think that a few disclaimers will appease an angry public. The article was written totally from USFS silviculturist Brett Crary’s statements and those of the Hotchkiss-based contractor. This sort of one-sided coverage would not pass any Journalism 101 class. With half a dozen letters to the Daily in the last month decrying the clear-cutting, you wouldn’t have had to look far to find a balancing voice.
The Forest Service is doing itself and the public a great disservice if it thinks this article will pass for response to public outcry. With no one to benefit from the planned cuts (mostly too far from homes for tangible fire mitigation, no lucrative timber sales, maybe themselves for meeting some sort of internal quota), they turned to you instead of responding to citizen concerns. I, myself, have repeatedly offered to hike or ski the Peaks and other threatened trails with Crary and his supervisors to see what is at stake (and how healthy the forests would be if left alone), but they were never able to find the time.
Citizens presented a very simple compromise — leave a corridor of trees intact along recreational trails to protect from winter winds and summer storms and provide at least an illusion of being in a natural area. This would minimally reduce the USFS’s goal — however misguided — of reducing the acreage of forest with trees. But the only response from the USFS has been, “I feel your concerns have been addressed within the EA and decision notice,” and your article carrying the torch, or should I say chainsaw, for them.