To the Editor:
With recent news stories of elk doing damage to farms and the surprising number of bear living in Asheville, why, with millions of acres of national forest land, is wildlife not living in the woods? Over the past 20 to 30 years, wildlife has largely been forgotten in favor of tourism and environmental interests. Almost all timber harvests and controlled burns have been eliminated. Yes, the views are beautiful, but otherwise a wasteland for many species of wildlife.
Ideally, our forest would be managed to have everything from early successional habitat to old growth with maintained food plots scattered throughout the forest and at all elevations. If this was how our forests were managed, it would benefit everything — monarch butterflies, songbirds and all kinds of other wildlife.
Some environmental groups are now pushing for more and more of our forests to be placed in wilderness or national recreational areas where no land management for wildlife is allowed. Having lived beside the Shining Rock Wilderness all my life, I remember what it was like before it was placed into wilderness compared to what it is now — trails that have eroded waist- deep and parking lots that look like Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Do we really need more of that?
If we want to have large animals like elk and bear, we must change the way the forests are being managed now or these animals will become even more of a nuisance in the future due to lack of food sources in our national forests. We must educate the public that harvesting timber, using controlled burns, and planting food plots helps all wildlife. After all, I like wildlife in my views.
Mark B. Rogers