Uncut wild forests benefit local economies

When debating forest policy, it's always good to take anything the logging industry says with a grain of salt. For instance, industry executives are fond of saying how logging reduces the risk of wildfires. But, as your article on President Clinton's forest protection plan ("A road rage over future of US forests," July 19) states, scientific studies have shown this is untrue. In fact, because of the disturbances it creates and the debris it leaves behind, logging actually causes more wildfires than it prevents.

The logging industry is also twisting the truth when it says that protecting our wild forests will harm local economies and cause job losses. In reality, one of the biggest reasons that there have been job losses in the timber industry is that corporations have chosen to automate much of the logging process. If our wild forests are protected, local economies will actually benefit, because recreation and tourism bring 40 times as much revenue as logging to national-forest-dependent communities.

After all, nobody wants to take a vacation to look at clear-cuts, but there are many reasons to visit a pristine forest, from camping and hiking to hunting and fishing. The vast majority of Americans, all over the country and of every political view, support full protection for the wild areas in their national forests.

The Forest Service should give the people what they want, by protecting roadless areas from road-building as well as other destructive activities, including the roadless areas in the Tongass National Forest.

Nathan Wyeth Chevy Chase, Md.

Meeting the energy demand

Regarding your July 17 article "Natural-gas prices double, but where's the furor?": Too much dependence on any single fuel is dangerous, and natural gas is such a case. The recent sharp increases in gas prices highlight this danger. Natural gas has become the darling of the electricity community as it is relatively easy to buy gas turbines to produce power.

But, the vulnerability to near-term shortages and long-term major price escalation in natural gas make it risky to put a lot of eggs in this basket. No one is projecting that we have enough cheap gas to fuel a major fraction of our electricity needs.

Electricity producers must, eventually, move from small plants that help meet peak load on hot summer days to base-load plants. It is doubtful that such large gas-fueled power plants can compete with rival large coal and nuclear units. And the lurking issue of global warming may trigger severe restrictions in the use of any kind of fossil-fuel burning.

It certainly makes sense to use gas for peaking plants, but for the long haul, the nation must construct and operate base-load nuclear units that generate no pollution or greenhouse gases. Natural gas is a valuable fuel that should be conserved for the right applications.

Nicholas Tsoulfanidis Rolla, Mo.

Where are the women musicians?

I thought your July 14 article "Not just kids' stuff" about children's music really captured what's going on in the industry, as well as its growing appeal among boomer parents. But where are the women artists? P.J. Swift and Kathy O'Connell are great musical experts, but you ignore a whole host of musicians performing great music for families: Cathy & Marcy, Jessica Harper, etc.

And, as for world music, where's a mention of the bestseller "World Playground," a landmark new release from Putumayo World Music? There's also a great new source for buying children's music online: bestchildrensmusic.com. Perhaps a follow-up story is in order?

Beth Blenz-Clucas Portland, Ore.

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