Don’t mess with policy that works |

Don’t mess with policy that works

Tahoe Daily Tribune

Politics have no business in forest policy. Apparently President Bush disagrees.

What he wants to do with the Sierra Nevada Framework is preposterous.

His desire to rewrite the document that has been used since 2001 would remove the substance from the worthwhile policies that were implemented to protect our forests.

It took years for all sides to come up with a viable plan for 11 federal forests that everyone could embrace.

It should not come down to a fight between Republicans in Washington and in other parts of the West against the Democrats of California. Trees by nature are nonpartisan. The decisions affecting their future should be based on sound policy, not by lobbyists or fickle politicians, or for monetary gain.

We are talking about 11 million acres in the Sierra that would be affected. It is not just the trees, but habitat for animals would also be threatened if Bush gets his way. Air, water, energy, wetlands — they are all included in the framework.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is adamant the framework needs to remain as it is and not be weakened. We strongly support her in her efforts.

There needs to be responsible management of our forests. This past year we experienced one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. It is reasonable and prudent to thin forests to help prevent catastrophic forest fires.

But for anyone who has seen a swath of clear-cut land, logging of any sort sends shivers up the spine. Logging as a whole should not be condemned, after all the paper you are reading now is the byproduct of trees. We use wood in our homes and offices in ways that are often taken for granted. It is found in items we do not think of, like charcoal, toilet paper and linoleum.

The framework, as it stands today, allows for the bulk of tree cutting to be done closest to where people are living. Old-growth clusters cannot be touched, while smaller trees and vegetation can be removed to thwart the threat of fire.

What we are angry about is that with his signature Bush could abolish environmental practices that go back to Teddy Roosevelt. We do not need the federal government meddling with policy that works. We do not need this administration messing with what California wants in the Sierra.

We do not want larger trees to be cut down, habitat for spotted owls and other wildlife to be obliterated — all things that Bush’s proposals would do.

A draft of the revised document is expected to be made public on March 1. Jack Blackwell, the U.S. Forest Service’s regional forester for California, plans to make a decision about any changes in September. In those six months the public will have time to comment on the proposals. Make sure that you do.