Mission Project is proposed for wrong reasons

What do the The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society, Conservation Northwest and the Methow Valley Citizens’ Council have in common? They would have us believe that the U.S. Forest Service’s Mission Project is a good idea.

But if it is implemented, it will leave behind a sad and irrevocable legacy. By excusing the Forest Service from doing an Environmental Impact Statement, these groups will further weaken what little environmental protection remains from the NEPA legislation that is under attack by the Trump administration.

These odd bedfellows are disseminating false narratives about wildfire and aiding the destruction of habitat for ESA listed fish and other wildlife.

The Mission Project boils down to logging 8.5 million board feet from units over a 50,000 acre analysis area in the name of “restoration.” It utilizes a computer-generated “cutting design” that is untested on a landscape level and is based on questionable data.

Primarily, the project claims to make the forest “resilient” to wildfire. Importantly, however, there are volumes of research to show that this approach is not economical and is rarely effective in reducing the type of fire damage we should be concerned about. So, why are these “environmental” groups promoting this?

Because they will receive kickbacks from the wealthy who will profit from logging our public lands.

Instead of supporting the destructive Mission Project, we could proceed with many beneficial forest-related projects, such as reforming grazing practices, developing low cost road closure systems, protecting wildlife habitat and corridors, rethinking public land management of wildfire (e.g. allow more natural ignitions to burn, and prioritizing Fire Wise preparedness), protecting the 18,000 acres of potential wilderness adjacent to the project area, and focusing on promoting the recreational activities possible in this area.

Which makes sense to you? Give the green light to organizations and governmental bodies who wish to please the timber industry and promote hysteria around wildfire, or engage in proven ways to save homes and in sustainable forest practices that will allow future generations to enjoy healthy creeks, lakes, wildlife and woodlands?

Pema Donna Bresnahan

Carlton

Congressman Newhouse is wrong on restarting school

Dan Newhouse’s recent column admonishing educators to get back in the classroom was unhelpful and hurtful and I wish I hadn’t read it. Dan is months late offering an opinion and he’s been pretty MIA on COVID for WA04, which remains a hotspot since blowing up in May and June.

What does Dan think teachers have been doing since March? Daydreaming and watching soaps? Teaching remotely is exhausting and time-intensive. Every educator I know wants back into the classroom ASAP. We have long been working on that. We did not need Newhouse to tell us that’s the goal. It was quite a slap in the face.

Dan’s column is riddled with out of date CDC data and cherry picked AAP “guidance.” Yes, AAP wants kids back in school, but they also note that’s not possible in places like with high community spread (like Dan’s district) and that such places need increased resources “to support the additional staffing needs, alternative learning sites, hybrid educational models, and child care.”

Dan claims CDC says “the risk of students transmitting the disease to teachers or to each other is low.” More cherry picked data. CDC actually says this: “Recent data suggest children older than 10 years may spread SARS-CoV-2 as efficiently as adults, and this information should be part of … determining how to safely and effectively open schools.”

Weird how Dan didn’t mention that.

Dan claims only 7% of cases occur in people under 18. Wow. Not according to local public health tracking.

In central WA, kids under 10 make up 5% of cases, youth 10–17 make up 11%, and let’s pull the college crowd in: 20-29 year-olds account for 23% of cases. That’s a “student case load” representing nearly 40% of central WA’s COVID cases.

Bending the curve of community spread is STILL the key to opening schools, and that is what Mr. Newhouse should concern himself with: Get schools more resources, support instead of thwart prevention rules under the state’s reopening plan. Best thing for Dan to do is his own job. Educators and administrators are already doing theirs.

Rochelle Riling

Okanogan

Remember: Pick up the poop and pass ‘on the left’

As more residents search for outdoor athletic activities, the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail has seen an increase in morning walkers, runners and bikers.

This creates additional pressure for those dedicated PUD Parks workers to adequately and efficiently maintain the trails and bathroom facilities. Unfortunately, what I am witnessing are actions by some trail users who are not equally dedicated to this goal.

Many dog walkers are not picking up their animals “poop piles,” leaving them in the grass and even on the asphalt trail. After a busy weekend of trail use, I find myself filling numerous bags with their dogs’ poop.

As I walk with my husband and accompanying dog, we are constantly faced with bikers who are not alerting us with a simple “passing on the left” notification. They quickly ride past us with no courteous alert and as we call out to them to remind them of the need, many share less than kind verbal responses or finger displays.

We do thank the bikers who warn us when passing. There are few postings of this “passing on left” alert and I have submitted a request to the PUD Parks Department asking for more, hoping visual reminders mind bring about a change in careless bikers’ actions.

Finally, the PUD park system is truly a gift to our community and we all need to do a better job of picking up our trash. This will ensure future park users will benefit from what the trails and waterfront areas offer.

Marjie Brown

Wenatchee