Weíve gotten some good press coverage on the roadless protection issue in
VermontóRutland Herald, Burlington Free Press, Times Argus, Addison
Independent, Valley News, among others. Todayís Burlington Free Press
editorial is the latest coverage; it is good and it is pasted below.
We need to follow up quickly with letters to the editors supporting
protection of wild, roadless areas on our public land. You know the reasons.
Letís tell the world what they are.
Send your letters to the addresses below. Make them punchy and short (150 to
200 words). Donít try to make all the points in favor of wilderness, just
pick one or two and make them well. Other letter writers will make the
points you donít. Be sure to put your name, address and phone number (and
email if you send via email) or they wonít print it.
The Forestís Future
(Burlington Free Press Editorial, Thursday, 12/9/99, page 8A)
Any trapeeze artist will tell you: Balance does not come without effort.
The competing interests in the Green Mountain National Forest would
challenge an entire high wire act. But as Vermont debates the future of its
375,000-acre public wood, balance remains the proper goal.
It will not come without calm and compromise. It is a tribute to the forestí
s many virtues that its value is critical to countless Vermonters:
? People in the forest products industry, who seek prized timber species and
cutting at higher volumes;
? Wildlife and wilderness advocates, who seek enhanced protections for
? Hikers, back-country skiiers, hunters and others for whom the forest is a
place for recreation and enoying natural beauty;
? Taxpayers, who deserve cost-efficient management of property that
essentially belongs to them.
The stakes for all parties rose in October. President Clinton instructed the
federal Forest Service to enhance protections for national forest areas that
do not have roads. In other words, he ordered that the wilder portions of
the forest remain that way.
Taxpayers will be the first to gain. For years, the public has subsidized
road construction through national forests, to make logging possible. The
roads now measure 380,000 miles. Including the value of the harvested wood,
this policy has cost taxpayers about $500 per logged acre.
The Forest Service begins hearings in Vermont next week, to determine how
best to implement the presidentís decision here. A power struggle among the
vested interests is likely. Four factors may provide a useful context.
First, a poll found that Vermonters and New Englanders have clear priorities
for their national forests. A strong 89 percent rate protecting fish and
wildlife habitat as their highest priority. Whatís more, 94 percent support
preserving roadless areas. That clear consensus should outweigh any interest
Second, Vermontís overall timber supply is in excellent shape, largely
because of management by private forestland owners. The forest products
industry remains important in much of Vermont, and it is reassuring to know
that wise private stewardship promises a future for the forest economy.
Third, this region does not have a comparably strong supply of wilderness.
Officially protected areas make up 5 percent of the forestland nationally,
but only 1 percent of Vermontís forestland.
Fourth, this state struck a balance in the forests elsewhere, in the
Champion land deal earlier this year. Logging and related jobs are
sustained; recreational uses are maintained; and the most pristine or
important areas are protected.
Clintonís decision was overdue. Now Vermont needs to find a smarter
equilibrium for the woods.
Burlington Free Press
PO Box 10, Burlington, VT 05402
FAX: 802-660-1802 e-mail: [log in to unmask]
PO Box 668
Rutland, VT 05702
FAX: 802-775-2423 e-mail: from the Rutland Herald web site
(Paste your text into the comments box on the Letters to the Editor page)
FAX: 802-479-4032 e-mail: [log in to unmask]
FAX: 603-298-0212 e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Email a copy to me too, if you donít mind. Thanks. Our letters will make a
big impression on the delegation, other political leaders and the agency.
Please take 5 minutes and send one out today.