Forest thinning bill needs cutting down to size |

Forest thinning bill needs cutting down to size

Summit County is due for a forest fire. It’s been 125 years since the last wildfire for a county in a 100-year wildfire cycle, according to Lt. Kim O’Brien of the Red, White and Blue Fire Department in the Upper Blue.

Anybody who has wandered into the forests on the Tenmile Range can see how sick the tree stand is. Clearly, this forest is a candidate for thinning and creation of biodiversity.

We believe nature can be enhanced, at times, by cutting down trees.

But we don’t think the forest-thinning legislation the Republicans are ram-rodding through Congress, with action expected this week, is good policy.

We side with Rep. Mark Udall, a believer in forest thinning, who believes the GOP anti-environmental agenda has taken a good piece of legislation and made it bad.

Udall, Summit County’s Democratic representative, started as an ally of Rep. Scott McInnis, our former Republican representative, who is pushing streamlining of forest thinning reviews. Today, Udall opposes McInnis’ bill, calling it hijacked by the Republican agenda to get large-scale logging back on the National Forest with little review. What’s worse, Udall says McInnis bill does not focus on work needed in the red zones.

For more on how Udall thinks the legislation went awry, see page A11.

Many Republicans cannot wait to repeal many of the environmental protections created over the years. Think drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park and more roads in the National Forest and Utah Canyonlands.

Surely, environmental laws can be improved and streamlined, but the real radical GOP agenda is to gut them.

This is not the way to become the majority party, and the real intention stands in the way of a common-sense discussion of legitimate reforms.

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