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Letters, July 25

Fear-mongering on a rivers bill

A guest opinion July 18 by Nick Smith of Associated Forest Resource Council (AFRC) recycles some old arguments to use against a bill for Wild and Scenic River designation. Unfortunately, Smith uses fear-mongering about wildfire to attack the bill.

I’d like to share my perspective as a longtime former firefighter. First, fire managers will in fact be able to aggressively suppress wildfires in river corridors and do a variety of fuel treatments. It’s spelled out right in the bill itself.

These rivers offer tremendous value by providing clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities to all Oregonians. AFRC argues that thinning in these river corridors (and they mean commercial thinning, i.e. partial cut logging) will reduce fire rate of spread, resistance to control and severity. Partial cuts rarely fulfill all of those promises and often make the fuel situation worse. Conversely, the fire risk assessment and fire management provisions required by the rivers bill is a much more practical start on addressing the wildfire problem.

What we need is for AFRC to quit sniping at individual bills and get behind a surge in federal wildfire funding, so we can hire crews and get ready for a warmer, drier Oregon.

Rich Fairbanks, 20-year Forest Service firefighter and division supervisor


Get vaccinated

Stephen King’s novel, “The Stand,” although fiction, contains one scientific fact everyone should know: viruses mutate.

We have seen this with COVID-19: multiple variants developing from one original strain of virus. Each of these variants is more communicable than its predecessors.

In the book, the flu virus mutated until it could not be controlled and ended up killing most people on earth. That is why it is so important for people to get vaccinated while we still have vaccines that are effective.

This is the only way to stop the virus. As long as there are unvaccinated people for the virus to infect, the virus will continue to live and mutate.

Eventually, it could evolve into a form our current vaccines cannot control. Then we would all be as vulnerable as we were at the beginning of the current pandemic.

People who refuse to get vaccinated, for whatever reason, may not only be risking their own lives but might be contributing to a much worse pandemic down the road, which would affect all of us. So, if you don’t want to get vaccinated to protect yourself, do it for all the rest of us.

James Tobiason