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Not convinced

Mail Tribune editorials

The administration has yet to make the case for going to war against Iraq

Count us among those who are not yet convinced of the wisdom of going to war against Iraq.

President Bush and his advisers are now touting something called anticipatory self-defense as justification for making war against a country that may or may not harbor weapons of mass destruction that may or may not threaten the United States.

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? .? .? . — — If either of those maybes were certainties, we would be less skeptical. But we have yet to see proof that Saddam Hussein poses quite the threat our leaders say he does.

Some things are clear.

Hussein is a monster. There is no doubt of that. He is a brutal dictator who oppresses his own people.

He is also a masterful politician who manipulates world opinion to suit his own ends.

But the world is full of such despots. Is the United States obligated to take them all out?

Regardless of the threat he poses, two very large obstacles stand in the way of the regime change Bush wants to accomplish.

First, unlike the situation in the Gulf War, the U.S. would be making war on its own. The Arab nations that supported the Gulf War ' when Iraq had invaded neighboring Kuwait ' are unwilling to do so now, and have made it clear they oppose a U.S. attack.

Saudi Arabia,which allowed U.S. forces to use its country as a staging area for the Gulf War, will not do so again. We would be on our own.

Which is not to say that the U.S. couldn't win such a war without Arab help. Our military, which made short work of the Gulf War, is even stronger now than it was then.

But winning that war would not be the cake walk that was the Gulf War. This time, Saddam and his army would be fighting for the very survival of their country.

If we want to find out for sure what weapons Saddam has, there is no better way than to set out to overthrow him. Faced with annihilation, what's to stop him from throwing everything he has at us?

The second and most troubling concern comes after we inevitably win the war, however long that might take.

So we won. What then?

Iraqi opposition groups in exile are far from united, and it is a stretch to suppose that any of them is ready to govern the country, much less cooperate with each other in some kind of coalition. As for the Iraqi people, who have never known democracy, it's hard to picture them embracing a system of government that no nation in the region now enjoys outside of Israel.

Congress has a vital role to play in all of this. Under the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war.

Presidents have managed to circumvent this requirement, but the stakes this time are so high that the executive branch should not be allowed to involve the country in war against Iraq without strong congressional ' and public ' support. Opinion polls show Americans sharply divided on the issue, and we call on Congress to demand that the administration provide convincing evidence that a war is in our best interest before we start one.

What a concept

Oregonians can take some smug satisfaction from the battle being waged by wealthy residents of Malibu, Calif., over public access to beaches.

Rich homeowners fighting increased public access include movie and record mogul David Geffen.

Even the city of Malibu has weighed in on this one, telling the state of California that it has concerns over the way the state is trying to create public access ways to get people to the tiny portions of the beach they can legally visit.

Longtime Oregonians know that can't happen here. Many years ago, Oregon voters made every inch of the state's legendary beaches public.

As they say in Hollywood, what a concept.

Guest opinion

Oregon's mobile home laws need improvement

On June 26, a front-page story in the Mail Tribune caught my eye. It was Cadillacs for a city of Chevys? The article said most people in Medford make about &

36;40,400 and the median priced home is about &

36;145,000. I was amazed!

The piece went on to say that Medford is one of the least affordable places to live on the West Coast. That fact did not amaze me ' even Seattle, Redding and Denver were reported as having more affordable housing. Home ownership has always been part of the American dream, but is

fast becoming out of reach for much of our population.

Manufactured housing (mobile homes ' not trailers, please) offer an attractive alternative to conventional homes because they are affordable, easy to maintain and generally sized for the smaller family. That option is jeopardized because of the deplorable, outdated condition of the landlord-tenant laws of our state. Manufactured home laws need to be separate from those for other types of rental situations because of the ingredient of ownership of the home itself.

The current laws offer no recourse for mobile home owners when a manufactured home park is subject to closure. The landowner simply needs give the mobile home dweller a 365-day notice, and is under no further obligation to the tenant.

In most cases the tenant has rented the space for many years. In most cases, these homes, while still comfortable and in no way a blight on the community, cannot be moved.

Why? Because the owners of other mobile home parks will not allow a mobile older than five to 10 years old to come into their park.

Therefore, people who thought they were making an investment in their future housing needs are left with the problem of what to do with their homes so that they are not responsible for disposal and the associated costs.

Surely these folks deserve better than that! They have already paid for the homes themselves and paid property taxes on them for all those many years.

This problem has the potential to become epidemic in the state of Oregon if

our Legislature is not aware that citizens desire changes in the existing laws. The Landlord Tenant Legislative Coalition will begin meeting in September in Salem. Please contact your state representatives and senators, asking them to put some focus on this problem.

The Oregon Manufactured Home Owners Association would also like to hear from people who would like to voice their concerns. They can be reached at 1-800-423-9371 or on the Web at . Let's not lose this form of affordable housing.

Colleen Alms is a board member of Residents United. She lives in Medford.

Guest opinion

Appeals not to blame for forest fires BRENNA BELL

As the forest fires burn throughout Southern Oregon and the rest of the West, everyone seems eager to find someone to blame. One of the most oft-cited reasons for the forest fires is appeals and litigation by environmental groups. However, this assertion is seldom followed by any concrete examples of fuels reduction projects proposed by the Forest Service of the Bureau of Land Management that were stopped by appeals or lawsuits. Indeed, in my experience as the staff attorney for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, the most litigious of the environmental groups in Southern Oregon, we have not opposed any effective fuels reduction projects.

The key issue is what constitutes an effective fuels reduction project: one that will work to counteract the Forest Service and BLM's past hundred years of fire supression.

Effective fuels reduction would consist of thinning crowded small-diameter trees and removing ladder fuels, while leaving the larger, more fire-resistant trees. Effective fuels reduction would include underburning the area, and quickly treating the logging slash (so it doesn't increase the fire intensity, as we saw in the Squire fire). Effective fuels reduction would be a step towards ecosystem restoration and reintroduction of fire as a natural part of the Southern Oregon ecosystem.

However, the Forest Service and BLM often package projects that would commercially log areas (logging the big, fire resistant trees and resulting in increased fire risk and other ecosystem damage) with effective fuels reduction. This coupling of effective fuels reduction with destructive logging of mature forests makes it difficult for environmental groups to support the agencies' actions, because they have a net negative effect on ecosystem health and fire hazard.

The Klamth Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and other environmental groups, have repeatedly requested that the agencies' decouple destructive commercial logging from effective fuels reduction, but the agencies have not done so. In the off chance that a fuels reduction project was delayed through litigation, it would be because the Forest Service or BLM made it dependent on funding derived from illegally logging mature and old growth forests.

Brenna Bell is staff attorney for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. She lives in Williams.

Guest opinion

Harvest fire-killed trees for schools DAVID S. HILL

Out of this severe fire season, some good can come. A proposal has been put forth by retired logger Harry Hanscom that warrants further review and discussion. Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association would encourage all citizens who want to see the thousands of acres burned this summer be restored as quickly as possible to healthy forests get involved in the discussion and make their view known to our local, state and federal governmental officials.

Mr. Hanscom's proposal is straightforward and, if implemented even in part, gets action on the problems of school financing and reducing ecological impacts to our forests.

The proposal is as follows: All fire-killed public timber should be salvaged and through an intergovernmental agreement the funds generated be transferred to county school districts or the tate of Oregon in a general education fund.

Time is of the essence for this proposal to have value. Fire-killed trees quickly lose their value. This is especially true for smaller-diameter trees ranging in size from 8 to 16 inches at the large end.

Small-diameter Douglas fir and the true firs (such as white fir and Shasta fir) will have salvage value for up to a year following a wildfire. Small-diameter ponderosa pine, however, must be processed more quickly, say within six months, before it loses its value due to stain and checking.

Professional salvage experts such as Mr. Hanscom state that if these small-diameter salvage logs are kept under sprinklers or in a pond, they may hold their value for two or three years.

The scope of the destruction from this fire season would seem to make salvage operations overwhelming and insurmountable. But here again, Mr. Hanscom offered good advice on how to proceed.

Oregon Logging Conference retirees have a wealth of experience in dealing with large fire salvage operations and could be called upon to help with the paperwork logistics. The equipment necessary for multiple, large-scale salvage operations is available in the Pacific Northwest. Access to the fire-killed timber is provided through the temporary roads and fire-lines established to control each blaze.

The quicker our forests burned in the Squire fire, Timbered Rock fire, Biscuit fire and East Antelope fire can be rehabilitated, the sooner they will be productive forests for wildlife, fish and man.

Salvage of burned timber is the first step. Next comes reforestation through planting of native tree species. Brush species must be controlled for the first couple of years following reforestation.

The result of this work? New forests growing that provide us with multiple benefits. This is proven science and examples can be viewed in the Jackson County Hull Mountain reforestation efforts following an early 1990s fire and the Fountain fre of Northern California.

The sheer size of the 2002 fire season could add millions of dollars through salvage logging efforts. If, for example, we look at the Quartz fire of 2001, the volume of public timber killed in that 6,160-acre fire is an indication of what could be saved and put to public education purposes.

The U.S. Forest Service on just 2,248 acres in the Quartz fire lost in excess of 26 million board feet of timber. This volume is more than the annual harvest of timber from the entire Rogue River National Forest.

If even a very conservative figure of &

36;100 per thousand board feet were paid for the Quartz fire salvage, a sum of &

36;2.6 million would be generated under Mr. Hanscom's proposal for Oregon schools. The 2002 Timbered Rock fire of 30,000 acres north of Shady Cove, the 2002 Biscuit fire of 380,000-plus acres ' think what salvage operations might yield in dollar support to our school system.

The salvage of fire-killed timber for a noble purpose such as schools is a much better outcome than leaving this resource to rot and become the fuel source for the next fire. If it is truly the desire and first priority of everyone in Oregon to save our kids and educational system, Mr. Hanscom's proposal should get serious consideration and, hopefully, quick implementation.

David S. Hill is executive vice president of the Southern Oregon Timber Industries Association.