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More harm than good

Environmentalists lost a great opportunity during Rey's visit

Once again, environmental activists with their hearts in the right place have neglected to use their heads.

Harboring legitimate concerns over how much timber the Forest Service may seek to salvage from the mammoth Biscuit fire, some activists staged a protest during a forestry meeting last week. The event deteriorated into a shoving match with federal agents when protesters attempted to block the path of a vehicle carrying foresters away from the meeting.

Others planned to try to enter a conference room in Stevenson Union against the wishes of the meeting organizers, the Siskiyou Chapter of the Society of American Foresters. They decided against that attempt after one of the conference attendees suffered a medical emergency.

That kind of level-headed thinking might have prevented the clash with federal agents outside. But apparently not enough heads were level.

We take no issue with the right of any group to express its opinion about government policies that affect publicly owned lands. If protesters want to march, chant and wave placards, more power to them. But what's wrong with doing it from the sidewalk, out of the public roadway?

More to the point, what did Friday's antics gain those who participated?

— Not much. In fact, we would venture to suggest the disturbance did more harm than good to the protesters' cause.

For one thing, it gave Mark Rey, the undersecretary of agriculture who oversees the Forest Service, a perfect excuse to sound like the calm voice of reason in canceling a scheduled meeting with environmental groups at the Ashland Ranger District.

Environmentalists who planned to attend deny that any protest was planned at the ranger district. But that hardly matters, because Rey sounded perfectly justified in assuming that's what would happen.

So the activists lost an opportunity to sit down with a representative of the Bush administration to discuss an issue of great public interest and importance.

That's a shame.

Community spirit

U.S. Cellular deserves a big thanks from the community for bringing back the movies.

The Starlight Classic Movie Festival originally ran for five years, attracting some 25,000 moviegoers annually to Bear Creek Park. The series was canceled last year when the parks department couldn't work out a financial arrangement with the founder of the cultural event.

The parks department said the movie series had grown beyond the department's capacity to help in time of budget cuts.

This is where U.S. Cellular enters the picture.

The cell phone company agreed to donate &

36;21,000 to get the movie series under way again. The donation will pay for a large inflatable screen, a DVD projector, a high-quality sound system, and royalties for eight movies.

We salute the company for its generosity. The movie series was a great addition to the entertainment opportunities in the valley, and we're glad to see that it will continue.