Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Out-of-state visitors say thanks for the hospitality

As occasional visitors to Soldotna from the Lower 48, we would like to express our appreciation and praise to the students, businesses and whomever else made improvements for the fishermen along the Kenai River in different spots. Of course, we were a little shocked at the doubling of the non-resident fishing license from four years ago when we were here. Hopefully some of that has gone and will continue to be used for improvements in other areas.

Now, if all fishermen would learn not to litter, that would be a real improvement. We have tried to do our share of picking up after others, as well as ourselves.

Thank you, Soldotna, for your hospitality.

Al and Virginia Smart

Cascade, Idaho

Wildfire shows Forest Service not acting in interest of Alaskans

I would like to inform the people of the untold story of the Kenai Lake fire, the one the media will not look into.

The Kenai Lake fire was started as a result of a change in practices by the United States Forest Service, (I'd prefer to use the word DisService). The forests which the Kenai Lake fire burned were intended for timber sales a few short years ago. Some of these had sold, but due to the environmentalist actions of money and litigation the sales were stopped and withdrawn.

The DisService would like to state that the timber has no value and, therefore, should be burned. This is simply a bold-faced lie. There have been many people in the area who wished to get wood-cutting permits for house construction and are continuously turned down or told there are no roads from which to get house logs. Moreover, the mill in Seward was shut due to the inability to get wood from the DisService.

The DisService will also state that the timber values will not pay for the roads which would be necessary for harvest. In some situations, this may be true, though those roads are used by us who would like to take our families for a leisurely drive or camping trip.

I would venture to say that the Kenai Lake fire will cost us taxpayers more than $2 million dollars. This would have paid for more than 100 miles of road.

It would be interesting to see a benefit-cost ratio done on the fire like the DisService would like to do on harvest operations. The DisService will list the cost incurred on the fire as a cost for suppression of a wildfire, not the cost of suppressing a prescribed burn, just to make their books look good.

It is obvious the DisService would rather destroy our forest through burning or locking it up for the environmentalist then helping us who would like to see our forests used to support our economy and construction of roads for fire suppression and enjoyment of our forests in a leisurely fashion. The DisService is full of employees who never had to worry about making a living from using our natural resources. They simply would like to get a playground for themselves and have their butts flown around in helicopters or providing all the benefits of our national treasures to their environmentalist friends. All in a supposed days work at our taxpayers' expense.

We need to come forth and inform our congressional delegates and the Bush Administration that the DisService is dishonest and is actively corrupted for environmentalists who have money and legal staffs. We no longer wish to see our forests being destroyed or locked up. It is time for the DisService to once again become the Service and support the utilization and management of our resources.

It is quite ironic when the destruction of our resources through burning is good, and the utilization of our forest by management such as harvesting is bad. More ironic is the fact that we are killing the very wildlife in fires which we are supposed to be helping. When we manage our land through harvesting we are able to retain the smaller residual trees, protect eagle nests, provide for age diversity, have stream buffers and provide hiding areas for wildlife.

For those who enjoy fishing as sport or business should consider the fact that fires can burn deep into the soil, destroying the root network of trees and atomizing nitrogen, the very life blood of our terrestrial plants. Such burning is likely to lead to major landslides choking our streams with sediment, thus affecting our state's fishery resources.

Harvesting timber takes the weight off the hillsides and keeps the root systems intact, thereby avoiding large landslides and allowing for rapid revegetation. When we burn, we have no control on these beneficial practices and can burn the buffers along our streams (like Schilter Creek) within the Kenai Lake fire.

Had it not been for the wise use of our state's forested resources in the Moose Pass area that removed the fuels and developed a gravel road, the Kenai Lake fire would have grown in proportion, probably destroying the quaint community of Moose Pass.

This fire was a wake-up call for our state's citizens to come forth and object to our congressional delegates that we no longer trust the USFS and that a total revamping of philosophies is long overdue. The time is critical, for the DisService is looking at banning road construction in our National Forest, and we will no longer be able to go for a sunny leisurely drive and will face more and more traffic congestion from us on our supposed days of relaxation. In addition, the Chugach National Forest is writing its management plan now that is attempting to disregard our state's rights under ANILCA and ANCSA.

The environmentalists have the money for litigation and bullying tactics, we have the numbers. Speak up now before it is too late.

Mike Lawson


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