Letter: Stand up for our forests | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Stand up for our forests

I am writing in response to Molly Pitts’ Aug. 8 letter about the Forest Service’s proposal, under the Trump administration, to undermine our nation’s bedrock environmental law: The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). While Pitts is right that wildfire, disease and drought are immense challenges facing our National Forests, curtailing citizens’ voice and opening the door to clear-cutting, mining and drilling is hardly a solution.

NEPA is one of our most successful environmental policies. It ensures that federal actions are informed by science and that the public has a right to comment on how our lands and resources are managed. If this proposal, pushed by political appointees overseeing the Forest Service, is approved, the public will essentially be cut out of the decision-making process and no longer have a say in forest management. It would also deprive on-the-ground agency staff of a critical planning tool, and as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

There are countless examples of NEPA improving federal projects. For example, NEPA helped protect the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests from clear-cutting following an outcry of opposition from citizens, businesses and local officials. Thanks to NEPA, the voice of the people who depend on our forests was recognized, and the spectacular scenery, wildlife and water resources in these forests avoided permanent damage.

One forest management issue that strikes close to home for Coloradans is wildfire. If this proposal moves forward, it would increase wildfire risk by promoting large-scale deregulated logging operations, which dry out remaining vegetation and destabilize ecosystems. It would also harm Colorado’s multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy. Surely anyone who enjoys hunting, fishing and hiking in Colorado wants to do so in our pristine forests, not one that has been clear-cut.

Stand up for our forests while you still can. Visit westernresourceadvocates.org/usfs before Aug. 26 to tell the Forest Service you want a say in how our forests are managed.

Rachael Hamby,

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