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Program had hidden agenda

Re: “Forest Talk” (Jan. 28), like many other people in the Sierra region who care deeply about the future of John Muir’s Range of Light, I attended the forest conversation program in Grass Valley expecting something very different from what was actually presented.

Out of nine speakers, only two adhered to the rules (ecologists Michael Barbour and Joanne Fites), which was to provide information, not to proselytize. Yet, no one with an opposing view was given equal time or an opportunity to refute the many false claims and half-truths tilted in favor of the timber industry.



The smooth rhetoric of Texas industry apologist Tom Bonnickson was particularly calculated. Bonnickson’s call for large increases of clearcutting our biggest trees in our national forests (now termed “group selection,” or “openings”), in order to prevent wildfire and to increase species diversity, is not supported by the facts. Bonnickson also failed to mention that following clearcuts, our forests are plowed, drenched in herbicides, and rapidly planted to row tree crops, thereby exacerbating fire hazard (nature abhors uniformity) and depleting species diversity.




He also failed to mention Sierra Pacific Industry’s program to clearcut some 50 to 70 percent of its timberland over this century. It is thus no surprise that the California spotted owl is declining at a rate of 7 to 11 percent per year across the mountain range (also not mentioned).

It is unfortunate that the public was so misled by the hidden agenda of this program. The timber industry and their political apologists want the Forest Service to release more of our big trees to their chain saws for one reason, and that is in order to increase their profits. There are no more old-growth forests left in the industrial timberlands. This too was hidden behind the smokescreen obscuring this decidedly one-way “Forest Conversation.”

Vivian Parker, biologist

Sierran Forests coordinator

California Native Plant Society

Kelsey


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