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Know the West

Let's stop blaming

  Dear HCN,

I read with interest Sam Hitt's "Green Hate" opinion (HCN, 2/3/97) regarding New Mexico forests. Until he, the environmental special interests who invoke his name, the timber interests and the poor families burning nine cords of wood per year stop pointing fingers at each other, we're doomed to this seemingly unsolvable war.

As a Forest Service employee trying to "do the right thing," whatever that is, I see the death spiral these people have us in as the primary reason we cannot reach agreement. Until the poor people living at 8,000 feet bury the past and come to terms with the concepts of resource limitations and national interests, and until the environmental groups ditch their tunnel vision, including the unwillingness to discuss true natural forest conditions, and until the timber interests can come to the table as objective partners, we, as a region and a nation, are in a pretty tough spot.

Hitt's essay does nothing but continue a discussion of blame, and serves no purpose other than widening the chasm. As I sit here over my Saturday morning coffee, I'm reflecting back on the roads I helped build into primitive forest areas years ago, and how I wish that hadn't happened. And I'm thinking of the role I played surveying the I-15 route through the Virgin River Gorge in the 1960s, and how I wish that hadn't happened.

It's too late - it's all history - the past. It's not too late, though, for Hitt, the loggers, the ranchers, and others to come to the table in a selfless way, in the interest of everyone, and help solve problems. I never met a timber beast, a cowboy, a Hispanic fuelwood cutter, environmentalist, or fed that didn't enjoy the sounds of the songbirds in the woods. It sure beats the noise these special interests are putting up.

John Nelson

Flagstaff, Arizona