When criticizing others, one should use factual information so the public is not misinformed. I'm referring to Bob Rhodes' letter, "Environmental Laws, Forest Go Hand in Hand" (Payson Roundup, Feb. 25).
The Forest Service has designated a portion of the Rodeo-Chediski burn as hazardous to the public because burned stems (with roots burned off) may suddenly fall into high-use zones around homes, roads, trails and recreation areas.
With this potential danger, federal regulation allows these areas to be "categorically excluded" from the environmental review process. "Environmental studies" have not been "set aside" because the fallen dead stems may "re-burn," as Mr. Rhodes states.
The area of burned timber not closed to public-use zones is undergoing an environmental survey by the Forest Service. Its purpose is to determine the impacts or effects of salvage logging on soils, plants, animals and water of the burned forest. The information will be published as an "environmental impact statement" for governmental and public review. This environmental assessment may be delayed by the lawsuit from the Santa Fe-based Forest Conservation Counsel.
Rhodes is right: "Burned trees after falling create jack-straw patterns."
In forest fire language, this produces a continuous, high volume layer of heavy fuels which, if ignited under extreme fire danger, could result in a surface fire conflagration that would be very difficult to control. A "re-burn" of these down stems is not "hokum".
Rhodes seems to be against any and all logging. Without it, how can we produce lumber for homes and other structures and pulpwood for paper products? Logging also helps to keep our forests healthy through proper thinning of forest stands, lowering the fire hazard and leaving the best trees to grow bigger, faster and healthier.
Harvesting trees (logging) can leave the forest site with adequate soil nutrients for growing and sustaining future trees, can improve the site for some species of wildlife and plants (while temporarily displacing other species), and can keep sediment movement on slopes and into streams to low levels (within water quality control guidelines or regulations).
These are facts that have been established by research, and there are many examples of properly logged forests throughout the country. Sure, logging impacts the forest site, but it can be controlled to perpetuate the plant and animal species the public desires while sustaining the wood and paper products it demands.
Wes Suhr, Pine