Owls Not at Fault for High Lumber Prices

Regarding the article ``US Home Buyers Get Hit With `Tree Tax,' '' April 29: It is convenient for the housing industry to blame any cost increases on the spotted owl, but it is a bum rap. We were disappointed that the Monitor ran such an uncritical account of the industry's claims.

Current lumber prices, adjusted for inflation, are lower than they were in 1980. Also, demand for housing is a major factor in the price of lumber, and housing starts are now significantly higher than they were over the past three years. A February report by the Congressional Research Service documented that this year's increase in lumber prices was due primarily to demand for housing, seasonal factors, and, to a lesser extent, natural disasters such as earthquakes.

If home buyers are unhappy about the supply of lumber, they should contact the large timber companies, which are exporting 25 percent of the Pacific Northwest's output.

Also, the owl is but one citizen of the Northwest's ancient forests. Pacific salmon and more than 1,000 other species depend on this ecosystem, 90 percent of which has been liquidated. The ancient forests provide critical habitat for a $1 billion commercial fishing industry employing 60,000 workers.

People, too, depend on the health of these forests, which harbor the watersheds that provide most of the region's drinking water, serve as the linchpin of the tourism and recreation industry, and are fundamental to the high quality of life in the Northwest. G. Jon Roush, Washington President, The Wilderness Society

Owls Not at Fault for high Lumber Prices

A few years ago, I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time. I drove into the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon's Coastal Range. Imagine my shock and dismay when on entering the forest I found nothing but stumps stretching as far as the eye could see.

In a pathetic attempt to disguise this, a thin screen of trees had been left standing along the roads, but the devastation beyond was obvious. I exited the national forest without ever having seen anything living up to the name. I cannot understand how such a disaster could befall this treasure we all own.

The author does us a tremendous disservice in blaming the recent rise in lumber prices on attempts to save the spotted owl. The culprit is the unsustainable level of forest cutting in our national forests during the Reagan years. Sure, we could lower lumber costs by cutting more lumber in Northwest forests for five or 10 more years. Then every national forest would look like the Siuslaw; just a sea of stumps. Martin Fuchs, Uxbridge, Mass.

The great multiethnic experiment

The front-page article ``Most-Segregated US Cities Line the Great Lakes Basin,'' April 11, states: ``Residential segregation has long been the foundation for racial inequality, exacting a high cost in lost opportunity, racial strife, and human suffering.'' The writer left no doubt that he felt segregation was bad. I agree. But the article did not discuss how segregation continues because enough people - white, black, Hispanic - want it.

As the Caucasian father of a multiracial adoptive family, I believe that integration is the only way for this country to go; though one cannot compel integration any more than one can compel affection. One can persuade, argue, and lead by example.

The current fashion is to deride integration as a liberal con game. Careers have been made in academia and politics by clever manipulators who say that whites will never give blacks a fair chance. This, despite massive growth of a sizable black middle class.

The dream of people from every place, of every race, working together to build a better life for themselves and their children is still the newest idea in world history. That's what America can mean; must mean. Elia Michael Larocca, Bismarck, Md.

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