Timber controversy brewing


The Issue:

The state is clear cutting about eight acres of the Mohican Forest.

Our Opinion:

Those who truly want to protect the forest should focus their energies on creating a guarantee that the forest will remain protected in the future.

On one hand, you don't have much room to complain about the state cutting down trees when you accepted the state plan that identified this location for timbering.

But on the other hand, the state shouldn't be shocked by complaints against cutting down 175-year-old oak trees, no matter how much planning was done.

Controversy was stirred again in the Mohican Forest last week when the state clear cut about eight acres of the forest and did additional work in about three other acres. The timbering was part of a plan put together over the last decade by an ad hoc committee of state officials and citizens.

The plan is aimed at protecting huge tracts of the forest from any timbering in the future, but it set aside some sections of the forest for a variety of forestry management techniques. These techniques are to be exhibition plots to educate the public on the issues involved with forestry management.

The ad hoc committee was formed after citizens bitterly protested more widespread logging in the forest during the early 1990s. Some of those who led the protests were appointed to the committee. The eight acres cut last week were identified for that purpose in the plan.

The state responded to the complaints last week by saving it did only what was called for within the plan. State officials questioned how some committee members could complain when they helped develop the plan.

These are good questions. But the state obviously miscalculated if it actually believed it could cut down trees that have been there since the time of the Civil War without any negative reactions.

One wonders why another area couldn't have been selected for clear cutting that was just as accessible for the public education programs, but didn't contain such ancient specimens.

The state created a credibility problem for itself with its arrogant behavior during the early'90s. But it has worked to be more inclusive and responsive as it relates to those who cherish this forest.

Cutting down 175-year-old trees won't help that credibility, no matter what the circumstances.

The real issue in Mohican isn't this area that is such a small part of the forest. It is guaranteeing that vast reaches of the forest the state has promised to protect actually remain untouched.

Although the state has agreed to the plan that provides this protection, there has been no action taken or document created to guarantee this protection survives future elections and political shifts.

Those who truly want to protect the forest should focus their energies on creating this guarantee.

Originally published Sunday, July 25, 2004

Copyright ©2004 News Journal. All rights reserved.


Informant: Deane T. Rimerman


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Juli 2004

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