In National Forests, What Use Is 'Wise Use'?

Readers are denied some very important information in the article "Land-Use Advocates Make Gains," Oct. 3. The new "coalition" the author describes is actually a slick, industry-funded public relations campaign designed to gut the nation's environmental protection laws. The central claim is to protect rights of the "little guy." In truth, big industry wants to plunder the nation's resources and is using the little guy to cover up its own agenda.The examples offered about "private property rights" aren't so compelling if you know the whole story - such as the Hungarian immigrant who went to jail for illegally destroying a wetland. Could this be the same Hungarian immigrant who was told when he purchased the land that it could not be developed, used that fact to negotiate a lower price, and was issued several warnings from federal and state agencies before filling in the wetland? And what about the neighbors whose homes were flooded because of th e severe drainage problems he caused by breaking the law? The goal of these groups is to allow unfettered industry use of public lands. This does not preserve natural resources for man. To the contrary, it ensures there will be little left for man to use or enjoy once today's shortsighted and greedy industries make their profits and move on. The most dangerous aspect of this throwback to the James Watt-era Sagebrush Rebellion is that many innocent people are being conned into believing the hype. Conservation does not prohibit the use of resources. It calls for reasonable use first, and absolute preservation only when necessary to prevent absolute destruction. Stephanie C. Sklar, Washington, National Wildlife Federation

I was delighted to see this article on the "wise use" groups' successful challenge of the "environmentalist" stance of obstructionism. When all the smoke has cleared, it will be recognized that the people who provide raw materials for industry are the true environmentalists. It is only those people that can know and understand just what balance is needed to provide the goods people demand and at the same time husband resources for the future. This is particularly true of the lumber industry. These people are working with a self-renewing resource, a miracle in itself. Donald Bradley, Plainfield, N.H.

Could this be the great American talent for compromise at work? A cooperative effort of industry and environmental interests can develop a reasonable plan for resource management. Extremism and inflexibility are the biggest stumbling blocks. The small town I live in is completely dependent on the lumber mill. If the mill closes so does the town. It is hard to blame people for not caring much about an owl when their homes and jobs are at stake. However, the timber association in town considers its strength to be as "strong and silent as its clear cuts." The environmentalists definitely have valid concerns. The challenge is to develop a plan which will be valid 100 years from now. Logging, cattle, and mining are not going away. Neither is concern over waste, greed, and destruction of the land. Responsible compromise should be possible. What other choice is there? W. Baxter Vestal, Hayfork, Calif.

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