Hopkins: Time to rethink clearcutting – save Summit County’s forests
Your January 16 front page headline, “Logging projects renew clear-cut debate,” seemed to suggest the possibility of reconsidering the project, but then the article itself made the reiteration of the previous US Forest Service news release about planned clearcutting projects sound like a fait accompli. The debate about clearcutting Summit County’s beautiful forests must be renewed. Yes, the Ophir Mountain and other “fuels reduction and forest health” projects did go through an official bureaucratic process and that process did allow for public comment. But that process took place during hysteria over fire danger from beetle-killed lodgepole pines – hysteria that turns out to be totally unwarranted. Because dead needles are drier than live ones, dead trees are indeed more flammable for the first 2-3 years. But once those dead needles fall off, as they all have here in Summit County, a dead lodgepole is actually far less of a fire hazard than a live tree. It now has little to burn and no crown for crown fires. Additonally, the big, disastrous, Front Range foothill fires were all in lower, drier areas and were largely in ponderosa rather than lodgepole forests and all happened in the spring, when Summit County was still snow-covered.
Many Summit County residents, either did not hear about these logging projects when they were decided upon or did not realize the terrible destruction they held for our forests and trails. With the sad exception of places like Gold Hill, however, it is not too late to correct this. Plans can always be revised and updated. Now is the time to rethink these projects and keep Summit County the wonderful wooded place that it is.
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