Why should a college rate a cabin in a national forest?

  Dear HCN,

There is a healthy dose of irony in the Dec. 26 article regarding the battle between Arizona's Prescott College and Tonto National Forest over a 60-year-old cabin. This otherwise unnoteworthy controversy serves to expose the major shortcoming, and in my mind, insincerity, of the organized environmental movement.

Reporter Peter McBride neglects to consider that there is as little (or as much) reason for granting an extended special-use permit a priori for the cabin as for conferring the same privilege to, for example, a geothermal company seeking to drill an exploratory well on the Tonto National Forest.

Where is a call for EIS review to analyze the degree of site disturbance and soil erosion, the potential for invasion by non-native and noxious plants, the impact of increased motor vehicle traffic on wildlife and air quality, and the result of diverting water from existing hydrological system? The answer: Prescott College and supporters seek the permit to maintain a private Shangri-La for the enjoyment, and perhaps education, of an elite few at public expense.

John Gold

Mt. Vernon, Washington