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Politicians just don’t understand forests

To the editor: One of the last acts of President Clinton prohibited timber harvest and access by motorized vehicles to an additional 60 million acres of National Forest land all over the United States. President Clinton bypassed Congress and created a regulation closing the 60 million acres of land to attempt to satisfy the preservationists’ desire to have more wilderness. Now the controversy is about locking up so much additional public land. The reason this has created a problem is because we have put natural fires out for over 80 years. Now that land has an unnaturally high amount of trees, brush, and debris. So the forest service needs to harvest the trees that fire would have eliminated to make a more natural ecosystem. Therefore, by closing access to that forest land, the Forest Service doesn’t have the chance to manage the land and harvest some of the trees and keep the forest healthy. The politicians should understand that forests are not static systems. They are dynamic ecosystems that are always changing. By closing off this land to any management, they don’t account for the fact that the forest land is going to change. By not allowing frequent small disturbances, they will end up with a catastrophic disturbance that could take out the whole forest and cause it to have to start over. Megan Schmidt Prineville