Speak Up!

SPEAK UP!

Hang on to your wallets, taxpayers! U.S. Forest Service officials are chasing tax dollars to the detriment of the public and the Shawnee National Forest. The return of unpopular industrial logging on the forest violates the public trust. Notorious money losers, the only beneficiaries from Shawnee timber projects are the subsidized logging companies.

Due to an ancient law, rangers are encouraged to sell timber, regardless of the cost. Funds from timber sales get to be retained by local Shawnee officials. All other forest revenues go directly to D.C., resulting in the agency prioritizing timber extraction to help pad its ever-diminishing budgets.

Even though Shawnee wildfires are not realistically a management concern, Forest Service staff now pursue additional taxpayer monies designated by congress for artificial burning of forest land, under the guise of wildfire prevention. Extreme western fires driven more by climate change, have motivated lawmakers to take this misguided action. Logging operations leave behind stumps and unnatural amounts of woody debris or slash. Coupled with artificial burning, the Shawnee is opened up to increased heat and sun. This provides a new fuel load and dries the forest, conversely making it susceptible to fire.

Meanwhile, foresters spout terms like "fuels reduction" and "forest health," to help justify these disingenuous pursuits of federal money. Rest assured, burning the Shawnee will not reduce wildfire threats and no forest has ever been logged back to health. This waste and deception is unacceptable as budget constraints dictate the ever-diminishing recreation facilities and public services on the Shawnee. Forest users and fiscal conservatives must speak out before more tax dollars are thrown at logging corporations or frankly just go up in smoke.

John Wallace

Simpson, IL