I have been somewhat remiss in posting my weekly "Lassen County Times In Review" section, largely because there really hasn't been all that much in the paper to catch my eye. The week before last (Feb 27 edition) there were, however, two Letters To The Editor that caught my eye.
First a good buddy of mine, Phil Nemir wrote in regarding Congressman Doolittle's recent visit to Susanville and the subsequent "town hall meeting", where residents are supposed to get the opportunity to ask questions of their local representative. For those of you unfamiliar with northeastern California, Doolittle is one of those professional politicians who conservatives absolutely despise when the politician happens to be Democrat, but absolutely love when they happen to be a Republican.
Phil notes, however, that the congressman's effort to meet his brochure marketing ploy (...your views are important - please share them with the congressman and his staff at one of the following listening sessions) fell flat on its face. As Phil notes, after a paltry half hour of questions,
One of his aides stopped the questions before everyone had a chance to speak because the Congressman had other stops, at the Lassen County Times, and an "invitation only" luncheon.
I'm not really surprised at the Lassen County Times stop...perhaps a chance to discuss the Book of Revelations and the Iraq war? Phil wanted to ask how the Congressman could still talk about tax cuts while we are waging an apparent "war on terrorism" - a good question and one that I'd like to know. Apparently, the congressman wasn't interested in answering questions.
In a second letter, Diane Baxley whines that "Our Forest Service needs help!" and complains that salvage timber hasn't been cut in several areas after several catastrophic wildfires in recent years (this is one of those Forest Service issues I want to start commenting on, hence my previous "disclaimer" post). She specifically refers to the Antelope (actually the Boulder Complex) fires that occurred last summer and wonders why the burnt trees are still standing, the wood is rotting and they pose a hazard. My issue is not that Diane is wrong about needing to salvage - I wholeheartedly agree that salvaging timber is necessary, for a variety of reasons, after a fire. But her information on Antelope is at least a couple of months old! The acreage around Antelope lake was salvaged recently and efforts are still under way to rehab the area - I should know, I signed the Decision Memo to conduct the operations while detailing as a District Ranger. The fire occurred in July and harvesting operations, as I understand it, ended a week or so ago (about 7 months later). Diane and others may bemoan the time it takes, but Forest Service management goes through an open, public process, that gives the agency the time to make the best science-based decisions possible. The district personnel (me included) spent a lot of time talking to people, understanding the environmental issues and making the decision to salvage and re-plant. The decision was appealed by an environmental group, but the decision was backed by solid science, was upheld on appeal, and now the work is being done to regain the forest.
Contrary to Diane's comments, the Antelope effort was US Forest Service policies and public input working perfectly to come to the most defensible decision. And not just because I signed the memo authorizing the project - the district folks had most of the hard work ahead of them after my detail ended and they saw it through...
The Lassen County Times really ought to do a major story on the Boulder Complex fire, its aftermath, why the environmental group (Earth Island Institute) was wrong in its appeal, and how active management is going to get most of the Antelope basin back to healthy forest conditions.