Roadless plan a sop to the 'Greens'
I write this letter in regard to the U.S. Forest Service proposal for the establishment of a roadless area management program.
I have been around long enough to know that the establishment of wilderness areas, national parks, national monuments and roadless areas is often a political tool to ensure the support of the "Greens." I suspect that politics is what is behind this proposal; that and an attempt by the Forest Service to avoid some of its responsibilities. It is time that politicians realize that average people have recreational needs which are not satisfied by parks, monuments and wilderness areas. Nor are these needs satisfied by "roadless areas."
In actual practice, "roadless areas" and wilderness areas will be basically the same. They will have the same effect on the recreational activities of average people. Average people do not use areas which are in excess of one mile from road access.
At this time in history, we have a burgeoning population seeking outdoor recreation. Also at this time, we find that our recreation areas are continually shrinking. Access to private lands is becoming restricted to those with adequate wealth to buy access. Access to state and federal lands is constantly being reduced by government agencies due to their claim of increased fire hazards, increased road maintenance, increased vandalism, increased littering, etc., etc., ad nauseum.
These government agencies are attempting to solve their problems by eliminating public use of public lands.
I have personally been present at meetings on the Prescott, Kaibab and Coconimo national forests when their personnel have blamed the public for their "fire" problems. Wildlife biologists that I know have recognized for more than 40 years that their "fire" problems are based upon gross mismanagement, mainly by the "Smokey the Bear Syndrome" and their failure to recognize that "multiple use management" means something other than "timber, pulp wood and a few cows." Wildlife biologists have continually attempted to have the Forest Service thin the Ponderosa pine stands adequately in order to reduce the fuel loads. The Forest Service has continually refused. In recent years, many of these areas have suffered catastrophic fires. The Forest Service has said these areas should have been thinned to reduce fuel load, but the environmentalists protested. What rot! The environmentalists had nothing to do with that management program.
I have heard it said that these roadless areas would greatly benefit wildlife. I disagree. To my knowledge, there have been no research projects which indicate significant differences in wildlife populations between adjacent "roaded" areas and "roadless" areas.
Wesley M. Martin