Trees should be cut, wilderness should be scrutinized
Your editorial last week about the Four Mile/Baylor Park timber sale takes a position on timber harvest that trees should only be harvested if they are dead or down.
This area is infested with Engelmann spruce bark beetles that have probably spread to live trees. There are also mature trees in the area that are not infested but are available to harvest.
National forests are managed under a multitude of laws, and one management tool they authorize is the harvest of mature trees to provide wood-fiber products. This area is not a wilderness, not being considered for one, and should not have management restricted by rules that apply to wilderness and wilderness study areas.
The new wildernesses proposed by local wilderness advocates include two areas that, in my opinion, degrade the wilderness concept. These are Basalt Mountain and Red Table Mountain. They have numerous roads, timber harvest areas and other evidence of non-wilderness activities.
Further, they are not particularly unique. It reminds me of an area in the Eagles Nest Wilderness that includes a timbered area where a road intrudes in the wilderness. The only difference in and out of the wilderness is a sign proclaiming the area behind the sign is wilderness.
Wilderness should not be designated just to avoid being managed for other uses. These designations should be for areas that are truly pristine, unique and not degraded by human activities. Deep Creek above Dotsero and the Deep Creek/Elk Creek areas are deserving of wilderness protection, but Basalt Mountain and Red Table Mountain are not.
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