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Ravalli Republic’s article on the Westside logging project (12-15-2017) ended with the usual USFS line about “using best available science.” Really? The culling of large trees from a mature forest does little to meet any “Wildfire Protection Plan,” and Bitterroot NF’s own maps showed no potential for crown fire in any of the commercial logging units. Non-commercial thinning of the understory could accomplish the same goal with less ecological damage.

Perhaps the USFS meant to say “best available economic science.” If so, best for whom? The project guarantees high profits to Pyramid Lumber due to the big pines easily available only a couple miles from Highway 93. But for the public, the $100,000 BNF claims they will make (Ravalli Republic 8/26/2017) does not seem like much in exchange for logging and road building in a pristine, non-motorized recreational area. And what about the costs to wildlife, soils, native plants, and the Coyote Coulee trail users shut out indefinitely?

Not everybody is as happy about this logging as the USFS and their corporate partners are. In fact, the majority of public comments on the Westside project opposed the heavy-handed methods being used here. Some balanced reporting might also reveal that many prominent scientists do not agree with the political-USFS dogma of “only logging can prevent forest fires.” Good reporting could likewise uncover data dispelling myths of environmental lawsuits preventing projects. I wonder: Do the press and USFS both serve the same political and industrial bosses, at the expense of the public good?

– Jeff Lonn, Hamilton

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