My Turn: National forests must be managed locally

Posted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Thanks for reprinting the Ketchikan Daily News editorial on the roadless conservation rule fiat. The rule is biologically, morally, and economically wrong for health of the forests and the nation.

I am one of those elected officials who voted to invest a significant portion of the Ketchikan Borough's economic development funds in Gateway Forest Products and Ward Cove. It is unfortunate for the community (but to the glee of the anti-development groups) that Gateway failed. Many of us believe the property will be worth twice what Erik Lie-Nielsen claims has been "poured down a rat hole." Mr. Lie-Nielsen apparently believes and is spreading the lies and half-truths of the local and national anti-development groups. I do not refer to these anti-development people as environmentalists or conservationists, because they are neither.

I have to assume that most of Ketchikan's citizens do take their elected leaders seriously, in that, those Assembly members running for re-election last October who were against the Gateway Forest Products were defeated.

The only people still trying to roll back the clock in this nation are again the anti-development groups supporting the rewilding of America through the Wildlands Project. The Wildlands Project goal is for 50 percent of America to be wilderness. They want the landscape of and life in America to be as it was 500 years ago.

I know as a professional forester that a managed forest is a healthy forest. Forests that are managed locally for multiple uses based on science, experience and local knowledge provide for timber, grazing, recreation, water, wildlife and fish habitat and wilderness. The lack of active management for the last couple decades has been a disaster for the health of the national forests and the renewable goods and services these lands are capable of providing on a sustained base. The large destructive fires this past summer simply helped focus the truth about the agenda of anti-development groups and how badly their propaganda has misled American citizens.

As to the "taxpayer subsidized assault on timber," Mr. Lie-Nielsen being so knowledgeable must know all activities on the national forests are taxpayer-subsidized today and have been for nearly two decades. So, if one is opposed to subsidies for the national forest lands, then we should stop all subsidies and lockup the land and kick all activities and people off the national forests, this would save taxpayer dollars. And it would also implement the Wildlands Project. Clearly there are two direct causes of this total subsidy, first has been the implementation of the National Forest Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and numerous other so called environmental laws. Second, the resulting study it to death, paperwork, junk science and lawsuits have wasted huge amounts of time and dollars with virtually no improvement to the management or health of the forest lands.

This management by lawsuits and judges who insert their own value prejudice into the cases, and do not have a clue about how forests grow or respond to management activities has delayed or stopped multiple use of national forests at a cost of billions of dollars in loss and cost to government treasuries, loss of jobs, and destruction of families, businesses and communities.

Thanks to the Juneau Empire for publishing the truth and for looking forward to a future of managed healthy forests that can benefit all Americans locally and nationally.

• Dick Coose is a member of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly and is a retired professional forester with 40 years of multiple-use management experience.

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