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A new environmental movement is needed

Steve Tohari

Dear Editor,

As fires rage in Colorado, forest thinning projects are being put on hold by environmentalists’ legal challenges.

We need a new environmental movement.

We as citizens need to regain control of our National Forests from the dictates of extremist environmental groups. We need to support our forest rangers and free them from frivolous legal constraints preventing them from going forward with well-thought-out projects to protect our forests from cataclysmic fires.

The Real Environmentalists in this country are the highly educated, dedicated forest rangers who are the custodians of our forests.

I propose a new environmental organization, “Save Our Forests Now,” a grass-roots advocacy group that aims to:

1. Change laws to allow immediate thinning of Western National Forests to alleviate imminent fire danger.

2. Increase funding for the grossly underfunded US Forest Service, so that it can better fulfill its many mandates.

3. Mediate conflicts between various users of the forests.

4. Foster a spirit of cooperation between citizens and the government custodians of public lands.

The National Forests are our gardens; the US Forest Service is our gardener.

Let’s respect our gardeners and give them the tools and our trust in their expertise to take care of our gardens. Our dry forests are in imminent danger, the time for confrontation and delay is over, and only a cooperative effort between citizens and a government agency staffed with scientists and professionals will avert further losses of our forests to cataclysmic fires.

What we need is a new environmental movement, a new interventionist approach toward protecting our environment.

The old approach seeks to preserve an ecosystem as it is whether or not it has been altered in any way by human activity. This approach would let an overgrown forest, the result of over 70 years of fire suppression, burn in an unnatural conflagration.

A new approach would seek to restore a human-altered ecosystem by intervening and altering that system back to a more natural state. This approach would involve thinning the overgrown forest to allow for less intense “natural” fires more like those that have been the historical norm.

The old approach is to “leave it alone.” The new one, a “neo-environmentalist” approach, is to “intervene” in the interest of restoring an ecosystem.

The consequences of a “leave it alone” approach are obvious – the Hayman Fire of June 2002 in Colorado’s Pike National Forest resulted in almost total destruction of trees, vegetation, soils, and entire watersheds.

To save our forests now, we must intervene. Thinning is imperative. Legal challenges from extremists driven by emotion must be swept aside. Citizen involvement to create a new environmental organization is vital.

Sincerely,

Steve Tohari,

nature photographer

Breckenridge


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