Letters to the Editor, October 13 issue

Congress can do betterfor our communities
Dear Editor,
I read a recent article in the Seattle Times, authored byKyung M. Song concerning the push in Congress by the GOP to reauthorize thecentury-old law that gives revenue to states to pay local schools and roadsfrom the logging on Forests lands. (See article published 10/3/2001 “GOPPushing for more Logging in National Forests”)
Washington’s elderLegislator from Pasco, Rep. Doc Hastings, is chairman of the Natural ResourcesCommittee. He along with other Republicans are leading an effort to get morefunds from logging and mining on Federal lands.
To clarify a mistake inthe article, mining does not return revenue to the federal government. Thereare no royalties for the billions worth of gold extracted unless you count thefive dollars per acre it cost to patent a mining claim.
Our NationalForest lands have been so over harvested in the timber hay-day, that Hastingsand the GOP would like to go back to, that even if they clear cut every tree,they would not get the revenue they seek.
With more timber receipts forthe federal Treasury, it’s not at all clear whether our own Congress woman,Rep. Cathy Mc Morris Rogers, would ensure that our water and wildlife areprotected at the same time. Due to past harvesting of the largest trees,National Forests are overstocked with smaller trees. These need to be thinnedto reduce fire danger and provide room for a healthy forest to grow. Loggingcan be sustainable and actually benefit the forest, but pressure on the ForestService to simply “get the cut out” makes finding such a balance verydifficult
Congress would better serve our local economy if it supportedand enhanced forest products markets for restoration-based forestry, while atthe same time enabling the Forest Service to guarantee more sales over longerperiods of time, following careful planning at the project level. At the veryleast, enabling our forest managers could involve a moratorium on budgetcutbacks for these relatively small federal and state agencies. Combined withcareful planning to develop sustainable, restoration-based projects, a vigorousforest products market brings both jobs and funds to our communities. Thesemarkets can be developed through both investment (spending) at the state andfederal level, in partnership with private industry. An example of this is therecent Forest Biomass Initiative championed by Public Lands Commissioner PeterGoldmark.
I am not too optimistic that our own Rep. Cathy Mc Morris Rogerswill veer from the path of her party and look out for the natural resources inour area. Her unquestioning support for mineral development on Okanogan Countyhas resulted in millions of dollars windfall profit for the mining company andpolluted water for the public lands.
Perhaps most of all, Rep. Rogerscould help our communities and forest industries by enabling agencies such asthe Forest Service to guarantee dependable, long-term supplies over the decadesto come — currently something they cannot easily do. It’s not about loggingmore — just more consistently over longer periods of time, thereby allowinginvestment to flow into our communities and forest products markets.
Weneed to contact Rep. Mc Morris Rogers and let her know that more simplisticRepublican proposals to simply roll back anti-pollution regulations would domore harm than good.  We need to protectour federal lands, enhance our forest products industries in smarter ways, andfind a balanced approach to the getting the funds we so desperately need tobuild our roads and build our schools.

Exclude politicians, path will beeasier
Dear Editor,
The behavior of the Executive and Legislative branches ofthe government during the recent debate on raising the nations debit limit is aclear example of complete dysfunction in two of our nation’s highestgovernmental entities. It is abundantly clear that the vast majority of federaland state politicians work to further their own perceived benefit at theexpense of the hard working middle-class men and women of this great nation.The retired, the disabled, the poor (working or not) and the children of todaywere and are given little priority in the halls of Congress.
We, thepeople who are not elected to or work for the government must begin to care farless about politicians and instead focus our attention on ourselves, our lovedones, our neighbors, our communities, and last but not least, our great nation.In doing so we need to accept as fact that elected federal and state representativeswill not and/or don’t know how to restore "hope for the future" toour culture, so desperately needed during our current social, political andeconomic decline.
So, we must assume this great task ourselves, personallyand collectively. But by excluding all politicians from this endeavor, the pathwill be easier than it appears.
Let us remember what the late PhilosopherRalph Waldo Emerson once wrote: "Genuis can inspire others to recast ourinstitutions, remould our manners and regenerate faith in ourselves."
Aubourn, Wash.