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Letters to the Editor August 4

Forest collaboration remains to be seen

John Owen predicted that the U.S. Forest Service will implement the city's fuel reduction plan for the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project in a spirit of collaboration (see July 28 letter to the editor "Forest Resiliency Project comes from collaboration").

That remains to be seen. The federal agency that manages the municipal watershed is required by Congress to consider the community alternative, which I co-wrote with the city forester and fire chief in four months of 2004. Owen errantly credits Eric Navickas with authorship and alleges that the process lasted for "a year or more."

I see big gaps dividing our good-faith agreements from what federal foresters are poised to do in the Ashland watershed. For example, the forest supervisor resists transparency in large tree removal. The impact statement discloses that tens of thousands of trees providing old-growth forest structure, critical habitat and natural fire resilience may be logged under a hybrid of the Forest Service's proposed action and our alternative that comprises the "preferred" plan.

We agreed not to bind foresters' hands with upper size limits on tree removal. Instead, we requested clear and site-specific justification for cutting the largest trees. The deciding official instructed his staff to reject this confidence-building measure, without which consensus is not possible. Other agreements also may not be honored.

The Forest Service imposed tight deadlines on our collaboration, and then sat on the project for five years as it prioritized salvage logging of the Biscuit fire and a failed ski area expansion on Mt. Ashland.

Jay Lininger

Center for Biological Diversity

Flagstaff, Arizona

Editor's note: Jay Liniger, a 1993 graduate of Ashland High School, co-wrote the Ashland Community Wildfire Protection Plan in 2004.

Consider gains and risks before approving ODOT welcome center

I understand that the county planning commission ruled that ODOT's rest area and welcome center could go through if the city of Ashland states that residents are willing to provide all the water necessary to maintain it! I am greatly concerned by this. Earlier this year, I read about (I think the mayor's) concern about our ability to effectively respond to area forest fires. I have lived with water limitation and rationing.

And also all the rest stop's sewage would pass through our system. I've heard that our sewer system already gets overburdened by just us, and that sometimes it is barely up to code.

As a self-employment coach for 25 years, I urge my clients to make sure that they have the requisite resource backup to risk going into business, to make sure that they have enough capital to carry them through the start-up phase — the annual low-income period for the industry of their service/product. I ask you to consider this principle as you consider the potential gains and risks of this rest stop. What are the statistics on the percentage of travelers who stop at a rest stop and then drive into the town near the rest stop? What are the statistics on the percentage of those travelers who buy products and services in that town?

I ask that the city consider the gains and risks in this economy and in a possibly even more challenged economy with unpredictable weather and climate. And to remember that with projections, be conservative with possible gain, liberal with possible loss, and realistic with the risk.

Politically I am an Independent, beholding to no established agenda. This allows me to review the offices and candidates, issues and pros and cons, from which I can make as informed a choice as possible. It is my hope that you each will do this with this rest stop. In this, I must trust that the information I read and hear is correct, realistic and sound, especially with regard to the complex issues of the times. For the final determination of critical issues, I simply must trust the prudence and wisdom of those who represent me.

Marianne Weidlein

Ashland

Thanks to Lions for guilt-free ice cream

This past winter, even in these trying economic times, the Lions Club of Ashland contacted me, the Ashland Middle School band director. They were looking for a new group to sponsor, and I was more than happy to oblige them! After meeting with them and trading e-mails back and forth regarding different ideas, I suddenly left work to have a baby (a month premature). But my absence did not stop this terrific group of people from organizing a fundraiser for our band program.

Imagine my delight and surprise when, while attending the Ashland City Band concert last week, I heard the director announce the Lions Club ice cream sales — with all proceeds (plus matching funds from the Lions Club) going to support the Ashland Middle and High School band programs.

Now that is what I call guilt-free ice cream!

Thank you to everyone who has indulged themselves during the concerts this summer and, especially, thank you to the Lions Club and to Mark Haneberg for spearheading this fundraiser.

If you haven't had a chance to enjoy guilt-free ice cream yet this summer, there are still two more City Band concerts — Thursday nights in Lithia Park at 7:15 p.m., with pre-concert music starting at 6:30 p.m. Bring a picnic dinner and leave the dessert at home!

Jenifer Carstensen

Ashland Middle School band director