Give Species Act Credit Where Due

I read the opinion-page article ``Who Gets Credit for Recovering Species,'' June 30, with increasing unease and sadness. Unease, because it was full of quarter-truth below the belt hits about the Endangered Species Act. Sadness, because it was printed without rebuttal, particularly when its author is an associate of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an entity favoring extractive industries.

The Endangered Species Act is under heavy fire from those members of Congress whose principal support and allegiance is from and to ranching, timber, mining, and real estate. They will stop at little to discredit the act in efforts to weaken support for it.

Reasonable environmentalists recognize that the act needs some adjusting. But often it has been the last resort in stopping or modifying developments that would otherwise have had extremely harmful effects on land and water areas earmarked for short-term profit. As an example, how many more golf courses would we have in wetlands areas today were it not for the ESA? (By the way, this is written by a 12 handicap golfer.) Keith Oswald, Sedona, Ariz.

Don't knock Gump's optimism

Watching ``Forrest Gump'' requires Samuel Taylor Coleridge's ``willing suspension of disbelief,'' which the author of the review `` `Gump' Takes Optimism Too Far,'' July 7, was clearly unable to execute. Unlike the author, I had no problem whatsoever ``overlooking many hard realities of the historical period [encompassed by the movie].''

I was more than happy that hot afternoon to retreat to the movies and let myself float - much like the little white feather that establishes the movie's theme. ``Forrest Gump'' seems to say that life derives its meaning from the contradictory process of random selection. Events that seem meaningless can, in fact, serve an important purpose: The little white feather that floated aimlessly landed at Forrest's feet.

I think it is a mistake to take ``Gump'' too seriously or to write it off as fantasy. The message for me was, ``Do the best with what you have, and sometimes something wonderful - even magic - might happen.'' I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Forrest squarely set in old news clips, challenging my sense of reality and unreality.

Like the author, I appreciated the ``attractive camera work'' and the outstanding performances. I guess I don't think it's possible to take optimism too far. Carol Cummings, Rockville, Md.

Charge on with UN fire brigade

I am harboring a perhaps not-futile hope that movers and shakers, or perhaps just enough decent people, will respond to the opinion-page article ``The UN Needs a `Fire Brigade' to Douse Regional Conflicts,'' July 5, to make their United Nations brigade a reality. The authors' well-thought-out idea is to form a ``quick response force to stop a low-intensity conflict before it rages out of control.'' It would comprise 5,000 volunteer UN troops, free from national bickering and from the almost-impossible process of collecting international contributions to pay for emergencies, which in Rwanda's case would be too late to for the nearly 500,000 individuals slaughtered while the rest of the world debated what to do.

If we don't heed thinkers like the authors of this article and start turning our words into actions, we are no better than cattle staring at a passing train, oblivious as their ranks are depleted by the butchers right behind them. David Green, Evergreen, Colo.

Activists jam logging industry

The opinion-page article ``Logging Roads Lead to Loss of Forest Frontiers,'' July 5, is awful. The author claims that the United States Forest Service loses money when in fact it is the only agency other than the Internal Revenue Service that has brought in substantial funds to the Treasury. The income is exceedingly good when one considers income taxes paid by workers employed because of government timber sales. Loss of money on government forest lands is approaching because our ``lands of many uses,'' which were intended to provide ``a continuous supply of raw materials,'' are being shut down to timber harvesting by environmental zealots. Y. Leon Favreau Multiple Use Associaton, Shelburne, N.H.

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