Thank you for the Summit Daily’s Saturday, June 14, article, headlined “In Summit, trees fall, sparks fly,” letting us know at least some of what the Forest Service is up to. Otherwise, we might not know until we encountered jagged stumps, slash dumps and mountains of chips across trails through what used to be beautiful forest. My inquiry about the status of planned cutting projects elicited a response of, “Any future requests for information will need to go through the Freedom of Information Act process.” Federal bureaucracy at its finest.
The article covered three amazingly, apparently separate events: (1) previously unreported May 30 USFS contractor initiation of clear-cutting near the three main trails from Iron Springs into the Ophir Mountain area; (2) a June 10 USFS announcement that a contractor had already initiated three additional clear-cuts; and (3) a May 29 meeting at which six USFS officials shockingly never once mentioned to 80 concerned citizens the new cuts to begin the next day.
The gall of a tax-funded public agency to hide imminent actions of such clear interest is almost inconceivable. Instead of openness, our USFS chose to obfuscate intentions by wasting citizens’ time that long evening trying to justify the horror of cuts which had already devastated Gold Hill and the Colorado Trail.
Admit that immensely unpopular clear-cutting of mostly healthy forest is wrong? Not our USFS district. The district ranger flatly informed one person after the meeting that she had no intention of changing clear-cutting plans. Instead of rethinking misguided plans, our USFS district is responding with deceit, hiding planned actions until after the bulldozers are already rolling. It is clearly time for our elected officials to step in and demand that the USFS rethink destructive clear-cutting plans.