Letters | TahoeDailyTribune.com


The national forest system contains 192 million acres. Of this, 42 million acres are currently withdrawn from productive use as wilderness or natural areas where road building and timber management are not allowed.

The Roadless Area Initiative would designate an additional 54 million acres as permanent roadless areas. In all, that would equal 96 million “roadless” acres, which is one-half of all national forest land in these entire United States.

Those 96 million acres of national forest will be withdrawn from multiple use, locking up natural resources needed by American citizens. Jobs that use timber, minerals and other forest products will be destroyed. Families will suffer. Rural towns will lose population and community income. Rural counties will lose revenue that pays for roads, bridges, schools and essential services.

The manner in which the Roadless Area Initiative is being implemented violates the National Forest Management Act and the Wilderness Act. The Roadless Area Initiative itself violates the Multiple Use Act, and is another unfunded mandate that Washington D.C. bureaucrats are attempting to force on rural citizens who live in, use, and depend on the forest.

Decisions that lead to the Roadless Initiative were not open and transparent. Only one group of forest users was consulted and the other side was clearly and intentionally locked out of the process. This is an example of politics at its worst. This is another attempt to create political gain by presidential decree, bypassing scientific investigation, congressional due process, and professional forestry.

If half of our national forest land is closed to resources production and recreation, that will put additional pressure on privately owned forest land to make up the shortfall. But environmental industry organizations are pressing for regulation of privately owned forest land and drastic cutback in production of natural resources from privately owned forest land.

Enforced, deliberate, and artificial, resources starvation will result and many people will suffer. Environmentally, there is no reason to do this.

Politically, this is driven by a corrupt federal administration and environmental industry illegally implementing provisions of the United Nations’ Agenda 21 program and the unratified Biodiversity Treaty in direct violation of our United States laws and Constitution.

Recent wildfires that burned hundreds of homes and tens of thousands of acres in Western states reached such enormous size and intensity by feeding upon vegetative fuel accumulated during decades of timber nonproduction. Had timber been regularly harvested in the burned areas, had professional forestry been used to manage the forests, had legitimate science been used to guide management planning, and had roads been built and maintained to allow logging, normal timber harvesting would have prevented buildup of fuel in the forest and would have prevented or greatly reduced wildfire damage.

The Roadless Initiative is an unworkable idea that should have been laid to rest 50 years ago. National forests are not the private preserve of environmental industry extremists, “wildlands” proponents, New World Order globalists and other extremists. National forests are my land. I demand access. I demand use. I demand roads.

Alvin D. Bartley

South Lake Tahoe

Something stinks about the airport

To the editor:

The problem is – it’s not funny! With the announcement that commercial air service (Allegiant Air) will once again return to the skies of South Lake Tahoe in August, I feel it is necessary to begin questioning the motives of our elected City Council. If history is our best teacher, haven’t we learned that commercial air service in South Lake Tahoe now is an expensive loser?

During the week of June 12, City Councilmember Hal Cole (Mayor Pro Tem) stated that it was time to reassess the direction and need of our airport. No kidding! Let’s review our city’s recent blunders:

n In January of 1998, the City Council approved a contract to develop and implement airport marketing and air service solicitation program – cost: $680,000. In addition, countless trips by then-Mayor Tom Davis and City Manager Kerry Miller to numerous cities across the country to recruit the now-defunct air carriers. Those trips were sponsored by city funds.

n Another, newly appointed airport director – salary: $70,000 per year.

n Cost to our city to run the airport per year (maintenance, services such as air control, administration – not including the above-mentioned salary) – approximately $300,000-plus per year.

n Money owed to the city by past purveyors who bought into the “Resurrection of Our Airport” idea (i.e. Tahoe Air, Oasis Aviation and other past-due vendors) cost a trail of endless debt.

These are just a few outlays of our city dollars that are associated with our airport. If we buy in to bringing back commercial air service once again, are we under the impression that the infrastructure of the interior/exterior of the airport is satisfactory in order to accommodate a first-class operation? Unless there haven’t been any improvements in the airport equipment such as ours dating back to the ’70s, I’m certain that we are due for some upgrades. Luggage facilities, reservation computers, control tower equipment – our airport as it stands resembles that of which you would expect to see on the old television sitcom “Green Acres.”

The total cost to our city over the years? Millions of dollars.

To what benefit?

I had read that a person affiliated with the marketing of our airport “guess-timated” that each passenger contributed so many thousands of dollars to our economy. I doubt if the handful of passengers who flew Allegiant Air or Tahoe Air in the summer of 1999 contributed more than 1 percent of our local economy. Besides, the benefits are based on assumptions of spending patterns. Economic data such as this are merely speculative: The real costs are tangible and accounted for – the city has spent the money.

How long will we as tax-paying citizens withstand this financial quagmire? Our city will vote on the STAR agenda this fall. The supporters are asking to raise our property taxes to fund much-needed recreational fields, ice skating rinks, bike paths, etc. Hooray! I’m for the cause 100 percent, but can we legitimize raising funds through a special bond district with tax increases when our city continues to squander money on our airport?

I personally realize the need for tourism dollars in our economy for the financial viability of our entire town. I am a native of South Lake Tahoe (born at Barton) and I have been in business for 10 years. I employ 20 people and I am conscientious of our business and ecological environments. History and trends have now dictated that commercial air service into the basin is no longer feasible or necessary. Dramatic improvements to the highways surrounding the basin have cut trip times dramatically. The Bay Area (including the new-age millionaires of the Silicon Valley), the Sacramento valley, the greater Reno area, are now burgeoning with people who have enormous spending power due to our prosperous high-tech economy.

We now have millions of people with millions of dollars within a three-hour scenic drive. Secondly, the Reno Tahoe Airport is easily accessible with state-of-the-art facilities that could never be replicated here at the lake. Drive time: Approximately one hour. Concerned about the traffic due to all the cars as a consequence? Unfortunately, it is a byproduct that will have to be handled with city planning that would ease the need for vehicle use once the visitor is in the basin (trolleys, electric trains, etc.). But the love of their vehicles by Californians is undeniable.

Airplanes themselves are very polluting. Noise by the DC-9s that were used by the air carriers last summer apparently fudged our noise standards for the basin. If the city and local airport neighbors shut down a locally owned club at the airport due to noise, have those same people become deaf to the roaring DC-9s? What about jet fuel fall-out? Certainly more polluting than a two-stroke engine. And the planning blunders of the good ol’ days of putting our airport in one of the largest stream environment zones in the basin? It has got to have more negative impacts than a few cows and a lumber yard that have drawn appropriate scrutiny.

Have the wants and needs of our so-called targeted visitors changed? You bet! In addition to the outcropping of gambling facilities in California and across the country, the manner in which people choose to spend their free time has evolved. Because of the intensity, growth and modernization of the new city lifestyle where everybody is “linked,” “netted” and “dot-commed,” more than ever there is a need for escape. As other markets try to capture the dollars of the visitor by building attractions, Lake Tahoe is arguably the most beautiful playground in the world. Remember our visit by President Clinton regarding our environment? If our redevelopment goals are to create a “mountain-esque” and “quaint” environment, isn’t that contradictory to a 20-flight-a-day program envisioned by the same planners?

A person doesn’t have to be a student of the famed economist Alan Keyes to realize the direction of the new consumption pattern of Americans: Huge chain sporting goods stores (specifically R.E.I.), crowded Desolation Wilderness trails, “rush hour” traffic on the biking trails, packed ski hills with boarders and skiers everywhere, fly-fishermen on every stretch of river. What does this mean? The new era consumer of the millennium, sporting their Banana Republic clothes, driving the newest $50,000 sports utility vehicle with the $2,000 full-suspension bike strapped to the top, wants a place to test the latest high-tech fibers in their North Face garments. Does this mean that flying the Dean Martins and the “Rat Pack” of the ’50s and ’60s in to gamble no longer controls the economic success of this town? That’s right. I will oblige to the casinos and say they still offer an attraction in our town that adds to the overall drawing power of Lake Tahoe, though their importance may soon be wavering.

In summary, the new up-and-coming destinations have not only stolen many of our visitors, but they have done so by not having commercial air service in their resorts. Whistler, Telluride and Park City are just a few examples. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a cross country ski center in that location during the winter months and a wilderness interpretation center with hiking, biking and possibly kayaking during the summer? God forbid we should develop catch-and-release fishing regulations on some of our waters to draw the ever-growing and lucrative fly-fishing enthusiast. I am not anti-growth or a staunch environmentalist, but I am for planning and foresight with an environmental vision that will create a unique destination that will hopefully, once again, make Tahoe the envy of all resorts around the world.

Tyler Cannon

South Lake Tahoe

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