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Yes & no on cutting.

I really enjoyed and agree wholeheartedly with your April-issue articles "Clear-Cut Benefits" ("The Outfitter") and "Political Extremism" ("Base Camp"), which address serious issues. I live in the most highly forested county in Montana, where timber harvest in the Kootenai National Forest has declined to around 10 percent of what it was in the late '80s due to litigation by extreme environmentalists whose goal is to stop all logging in national forests. This has left the forest very unhealthy and created a very serious fire hazard that threatens local communities. Since annual growth in this forest far exceeds harvest levels, there are far too many trees per acre in most cases than annual rainfall can sustain.

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Some blame does fall on the U.S. Forest Service, as it needs to get timber harvest back in its strategic plans and its individual performance plans, from the Forest Chief down to the district level, and they each need to be held accountable annually.

Sadly. when inevitable huge wildfires burn this area the politicians and extremists will call it a natural disaster that was totally unpreventible.

Political choices in 2008 will be critical for the future of timber harvest, hunting and the overall welfare and management of national forests. If we are going to eventually increase timber harvests for wildlife and lumber production, we will need to increase public support. We need to start with a change in our school curriculum that would move us from teaching "environmentalism" to more all-inclusive topics such as conservation of resources and proper resource management. Many people are ignorant on these important issues and, as a result, have been duped into believing our national forests have been depleted of trees when in many cases the exact opposite is true.

GREG LARSON

Troy, MT

Congratulations on taking the politically incorrect road with "Clear-Cut Benefits." The author hits the bullseye with his reporting on the lack of timber harvesting on our nation's public lands and the resulting loss of quality habitat for many game and nongame animals, especially ruffed grouse. Grouse hunters and credible wildlife biologists, led by the Ruffed Grouse Society, have been warning for years of the consequences of environmental extremists hammering the "no timber cutting" mantra down our throats. Now many other wildlife/hunting organizations are beginning to take notice of the plummeting wildlife populations on these lands. It ain't rocket science. If you want healthy wildlife populations on public lands, you must provide a diversity of habitats, and timber harvesting is the best tool managers have for providing this needed diversity.

Sadly, extremists have used the "it will hurt wildlife populations" excuse for stopping timber harvesting, and we have let them get away with it. I hope Hart's article and more like it will motivate hunters to actively support wildlife/timber management on our public lands and challenge the rhetoric of extremists.

STEVE HENSON

NC Registered Forester #496

Clyde, NC

"Clear-Cut Benefits" is the kind of short-sighted analysis that will eventually prove detrimental for long-term hunting as well as the fate of our planet. The author states that clear-cut timber harvests increase wildlife, but to what effect? Increasing the numbers of a few select species that he has deemed huntable while decreasing the numbers of every single other species? If it is numbers of game the author is looking for, he might as well camp out on a game farm and hunt human-raised birds.

I have no idea how he hunts where he lives, but where I live in Minnesota, we do things quite differently. We actually have respect for the environment in which we hunt. We in Minnesota look at the hunt as an important experience as a whole. We realize the connection with old forests and game harvest. We in Minnesota have some of the strictest timber harvest protocols and yet boast the highest annual grouse harvest in the entire country. Old forests provide more cover for grouse than Hart would admit, with fallen trees providing perfect drumming areas as well as summer relief for moose and hunting ground for the pine martin (two huntable species in my area).

The numbers that Hart alludes to do not show the overall decline in hunters as well as the hunters' ability. Yes, you actually have to hit the grouse to harvest it. We can hit them in Minnesota. Maybe they just aren't quick enough out East.

MATTHEW MEIER

Duluth, MN
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Larson, Greg; Henson, Steve; Meier, Matthew
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:736
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