In your front-page story on Sunday, I was quoted criticizing the excessive shutdown of logging in the Tongass under a recent court order. Some readers misinterpreted the story as criticism of the court's order.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The court's order is clear, reasonable and appropriate. It stops logging in roadless areas until the Forest Service complies with its legal obligations to consider whether any of these areas should be designated wilderness.
My criticism was directed at the Forest Service, which has applied the court order in an arbitrary manner, unnecessarily blocking logging in areas that are no longer roadless. Forest Service officials are relying on a 5-year-old map of roadless areas, even though they freely admit it is no longer accurate.
The Forest Service has let down the public three times in this matter: First, by planning so many timber sales in roadless areas, contrary to overwhelming public sentiment; second, by failing to comply with legal requirements to consider new wilderness designations in roadless areas, which is what led to the court order; and third, by fanning the flames through an overly broad interpretation of the court order that unnecessarily disrupts timber sales on existing roads.
The public has a right to expect much better from the Forest Service.
Thomas S. Waldo
Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund