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We need more wilderness areas

To the Editor:

Here are three reasons why we should designate more federal land as wilderness to protect it from logging.

The first reason is obvious: there are animals and plants in this area that need undisturbed forest to thrive, wood thrushes and timber rattlers are two that still survive in these parts, red-cockaded woodpeckers and cougars are two that don’t. It’s not like the survivors have anywhere else to go, Western North Carolina is one of the last places with any chance of staying wild. It would be a shame if our great-great-grandchildren never see wild animals and wildflowers. Loggers have a long history of over-exploitation of woodlands, and there is no reason to think they will change their practices. 

The second reason is libertarian. Federal land is owned by the citizens, not by businesses. It is not the responsibility of citizens to provide loggers, truckers, and businessmen with incomes. There are plenty of trees on private land, and the owners of these trees do not need taxpayer-supported competition.

The third reason is that it is just bad business. The coming logging boom will be for wood pellets to export to Europe. This is a commodity, not a value-added product, (like furniture or musical instruments), which would produce wealth for this region. We already have a stable and growing tourist industry, people literally come here to see pretty trees, not to mention to fish, gamble, dine, camp, and otherwise vacation. Logging would not support this sector of the economy.

Private owners have a good conservation record. They do not support practices that damage topsoil simply because they own the topsoil and would rather it not wash into the watershed. They want to maximize their profits; which means they are selective about which areas and trees are cut. They are not about to allow healthy woodlots to be butchered for firewood, pallets or pulp. Current tax laws, written with input from the logging industry, demand revenue for standing timber; forcing landowners to part with their wealth or open their lands to cutting. These laws are a violation of their liberty and are environmentally hurtful. The conservative thing to do would be to change these laws and let markets decide the price and availability of timber, not the government and big business.

Do you remember the building boom of the 1990s? The people running the show back then kept talking about all the jobs that were being created, but it seems that any wealth from that boom is long gone. The logging interests are using the same lingo, but imagine the situation in 40 years: scraggly forests, ruined trout streams, and wealth in the hands of out-of-state interests and a few local sharpies.

Chris Bogardus

Cullowhee

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