Postfire logging harms forests' natural ability to recover

Regarding the Jan. 10 article, "New rumbling over salvage logging": Those of us who have visited Yellowstone can testify to the wisdom of letting nature call the shots after a major wildfire. Instead of seeing destruction, today Yellowstone's visitors witness a park that has recovered well on its own. Within a year after the fires, thousands of seedlings sprouted out of the ash. Today, just 17 years later, we have a healthy, vibrant forest that supports many wildlife species.

For most forests, fire is as natural as sun and rain. These forests evolved with fire and easily restore themselves. The recent Oregon State University study cited in the article concludes that postfire logging harms the forest; this should be a red flag for any government official inclined to approve such clearing.

The growing scientific evidence that broad postfire logging creates ecological risks deserves a hard look on Capitol Hill. A bill introduced recently by Rep. Greg Walden (R) of Oregon would rush postfire logging that slows forest regeneration and recovery. Future generations will inherit our forests, and we owe them responsible stewardship.
Michele Crist
Boise, Idaho Forest ecologist, The Wilderness Society

Remember the good of your homeland

The most pervasive feature of Cristian Lupsa's Jan. 9 Opinion piece, "Romania needs to kick its habits" is his passionate disappointment with his (and my) motherland. I have seen this in many emigrants, including myself.

During the first years away from home, people do not spend much time thinking about their homeland, as they are busy adapting. Then, they start remembering the good things about home and begin to believe that they can improve the bad things.

When these emigrants return home, they suffer disappointment to a much higher degree than the situation on the ground warrants. This gives them a great rationalization that they did the right thing by leaving.

Things that a foreign visitor might perceive more objectively as being part of the local culture are seen as vile by the returning emigrant.

For example, Lupsa is appalled that in some hospitals there is more than one patient per bed and that some doctors accept gifts from patients. I would like to ask him: (1) Were he a hospital manager with more patients than beds, would he throw sick people in the street? (2) Were he a young doctor whose pay did not cover both rent and food, would he choose to starve? Or, given that patients know about this situation, would he accept gifts from those who could afford it?

This summer Romania had the biggest floods in 500 years. But the number of deaths was minimal due to an efficient emergency response by the government. Lupsa doesn't seem to know of or remember such facts. I am certainly disappointed in the emotional, subjective tone of the piece.
Ioan Vlad
Katy, Texas

No jury duty for the president

Regarding the Jan. 10 article, "Jury duty is for Everyman - and some presidents": While President Bush's willingness to report to jury duty may provide a symbolic gesture to promote the importance of this civic duty, it is nonetheless foolish. It is ridiculous to imagine a US president sequestered while a national emergency arises. My guess is that in this scenario President Bush would abandon his jury duty to attend to his constitutional duties. But, obviously, this would disrupt the trial. It is best to defer the president's service until after his term expires.
Erik D. Randolph
Linglestown, Pa.

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