Article

Friction over forest

It's not easy to strike a balance, and that's where the friction arises. In Vermont, it is playing out as the U.S. Forest Service is faced with delivering a new management plan for the Green Mountain National Forest, a 400,000-acre parcel of public land in central and southern Vermont.

There are few places in this country where humans have limited their footprint on the land and left wildlife, forests, rivers and mountains alone in their natural state.

What does it say about us that we insist on making our presence heard, seen and felt almost everywhere in our nation, including the most remote and isolated corners?

When the decisions were made to protect certain lands as national parks and forests, it was wisely thought that there must be special places in America that are set apart from the daily clamoring -- natural refuges that are shielded today and passed on tomorrow to the next generation.

With national forests, it was acknowledged that there would be many demands, including recreational activities, a healthy wood supply, clean water and protected wildlife habitat.

It's not easy to strike a balance, and that's where the friction arises. In Vermont, it is playing out as the U.S. Forest Service is faced with delivering a new management plan for the Green Mountain National Forest, a 400,000-acre parcel of public land in central and southern Vermont.

It's important to get this plan right because it will determine how the national forest is managed for the next 10 to 15 years.

The Forest Service is receiving serious push-back, particularly from environmentalists, on a draft plan for the forest that was presented in April after about three... [truncated due to possible copyright]  

There are few places in this country where humans have limited their footprint on the land and left wildlife, forests, rivers and mountains alone in their natural state.

What does it say about us that we insist on making our presence heard, seen and felt almost everywhere in our nation, including the most remote and isolated corners?

When the decisions were made to protect certain lands as national parks and forests, it was wisely thought that there must be special places in America that are set apart from the daily clamoring -- natural refuges that are shielded today and passed on tomorrow to the next generation.

With national forests, it was acknowledged that there would be many demands, including recreational activities, a healthy wood supply, clean water and protected wildlife habitat.

It's not easy to strike a balance, and that's where the friction arises. In Vermont, it is playing out as the U.S. Forest Service is faced with delivering a new management plan for the Green Mountain National Forest, a 400,000-acre parcel of public land in central and southern Vermont.

It's important to get this plan right because it will determine how the national forest is managed for the next 10 to 15 years.

The Forest Service is receiving serious push-back, particularly from environmentalists, on a draft plan for the forest that was presented in April after about three years of public meetings and consultation.

One of the most contentious issues has to do with opening up the Green Mountain National Forest to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The Forest Service is considering allowing limited ATV use in areas of the forest that would link up with trails on nearby private lands.

ATVs don't belong in the Green Mountain National Forest. Noisy machines that rip up the forest floor and disturb animal habitat clash irreconcilably with the quiet of the woods where people and animals seek solitude. The Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail cut through this forest. These are too important to Vermont to be undermined.

Even the most conscientious ATV driver can't help but leave ruts behind -- and in an ecologically sensitive forest, that is needless trashing.

While ATVs can be a boon to farmers and fun for kids on the back-40, the harm they would do to the national forest far outweighs any public benefit.

When the Forest Service presents its final plan, expected in February or March, it should stay firm on its current ATV ban.

Apart from the forest management plan, the Forest Service is also considering a proposal to allow 20 to 30 industrial wind turbines on two mountain ridges in the Green Mountain National Forest. These whirling monoliths, 370 feet tall and higher, don't belong on Vermont's mountain tops and they have no place in the national forest.

The Forest Service should just say no. No ATVs on the forest floor, no wind towers on the ridge lines. It shouldn't open the door to these intrusions, not even a crack.

Instead of stomping heavily and leaving our mark on the Green Mountain National Forest, let us try to walk gently without a trace.


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AUG 21 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/286-friction-over-forest
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