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The Observer, Wallowa 8/9/07

Letters regarding the "war" in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

How much public land has to close to make hikers and bikers happy? The 9,000 miles of roads in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is less than 1 percent of 2.3 million total acres. The forests are 99 percent roadless. More than 1 percent of the users of the forest use a motorized vehicle. We should be allowed a fair share of land.

Hikers have wilderness and road-closed areas but think they need more. Mountain bikers seem to be able to bike anywhere without trail permits or user fees. OHV operators must buy trail permits and pay gas tax.

All users of motorized vehicles in national forests should take a serious look at these no-travel management plans the Forest Service intends to implement. Less than 1 percent (9,000 miles of roads) we now have will be reduced to 3,500 miles of roads (less than 1 percent of total land in our national forest). We have just as much right to our share of the national forests. Motorized vehicles are already restricted to less than 1 percent of the forest. How much more do we have to give up to make the minority of non-paying forest users happy?

How are people who cannot hike or bike (older, handicapped, etc.) able to enjoy their forests when access is closed because people want to hike without hearing or seeing anybody else? What are woodcutters, mushroom and huckleberry pickers supposed to do if all access is closed to forest land? Would hikers and mountain bikers be for these road closures if the roads were shut to them too? Why should a road be closed to motorized vehicles and left open to mountain bikes?

Call your district rangers, county commissioners, representatives or anyone involved in taking away our national forests and tell them how you feel.

Chris Hedden

La Grande


ATVs make our work easier and leisure time more enjoyable. If a million ATVs ran through the same place for a month they would not do as much damage as one hot burning summer wildfire.

Each year thousands of these fires burn millions of acres, consuming billions of trees, animals, birds and whatever else are in their paths.

As you walk through the areas that burned the hottest, usually where the growth was most prolific and wild life most abundant, there is nothing left. Even the organic material is burned out of the soil. When you walk that area, it is silent, bleak and barren, and you sometimes sink up to your ankles in the gray-white powder that was once a forest floor.

Where the fire burned cooler, there are a few scarred trees and maybe a few green plants, and you discover it is a merciful thing if the larger animals die quickly. Many of the remaining animals have seared lungs and large patches of exposed flesh where hair and hide have been burned away. Due to lack of water and food they die a slow, painful, agonizing death. The smell of their decaying flesh permeates the air throughout the burn.

This is the problem we all should focusing our attention on.

John Petersen

La Grande


This letter is in regards to the Wallowa Whitman National Forest Travel Plan proposed by the Forest Service. I prefer to call this the W-W Lock-up. I am a native Oregonian born in 1945. I have lived in Northeast Oregon most of my life and raised my family in La Grande.

We have used the W-W forest like our own backyard, for camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, ATV riding, woodcutting, etc. I owned a log truck for seven years and made my living from the W-W forest until the Forest Service took that away. I consider the W-W forest part of my family's culture and tradition. Now, they are trying to take that away.

My son Travis joined the 101st Airborne Infantry after graduating from high school. He wanted to spend some time serving his country, and also wanted to advance his education. After basic training, Sept. 11 happened and he was shipped to Iraq. He spent two years fighting a war for the purpose of preserving our culture and way of life in America. Folks, how can this be true when our own government is taking away this very purpose that my son has been risking his life for?

Travis called home about three weeks ago asking what was new at home. I explained that we were in a war here at home, with our own government. The Forest Service has proposed a new travel plan for the W-W forest, and if they get their way, the forest will be a lock-up. Travis responded, "What am I fighting this war for in Iraq?'' I said it was a very good question.

Folks, if this travel plan goes through, the W-W forest will be lost forever as we know it. The Forest Service will exploit this great resource of wealth for their own agenda. Look what they did in the Sedona National Forest in Arizona. Read more about Sedona at www.AZnofee.org.

Folks, I appeal to all users of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to support, in any way, a stop to this action. Write your senators and representatives.

David Wegner

La Grande

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