Fed up with the feds

Posted: Monday, June 26, 2000

Much of the Empire's June 20, 2000, article on the meeting on the national forest roadless policy focused on comments from a person who was not even there, which calls into question the Empire's fairness and open-mindedness on this subject. I am speaking of Jack Phelps of the misnamed Alaska Forest Association, which is paid to toady for the big players in the timber industry. Their idea of ``development'' is a 1000 acre clear-cut a raven must carry a lunch to cross. It still puzzles me how you ``develop'' a stump.

Phelps' comment about wacky environmentalists brings to mind my grandfather's words that people who resort to name calling either are intellectually challenged, have a limited vocabulary, have little of substance to say or some combination of the above. It's a good thing there are some wacky environmentalists around to fault or Phelps would have to invent them.

The fact is that over-emphasis of any economic facet is always to the detriment of others. This is true of mining, farming, steelmaking and, yes, even fishing and tourism. Many political leaders, ever clamoring for more ``development'' and jobs seem to miss this point. The big boys of the timber industry proved this on the Tongass, and many other places too, for that matter. They shoved the little guys aside, trashed the neighborhood and screwed things up for others. When the economics got tough, they folded their tents and left. The American taxpayer was called on to subsidize this shell game. We're still paying.

But, they want more. They want the American taxpayer to foot the bill for more roads, to add to the thousands of miles we can't now afford to maintain, so they can ``develop'' more wilderness.

I must ask the United States Forest Service how they ``manage'' stumps.

Erik Lie-Nielsen


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