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In National Forests, What Use Is 'Wise Use'?

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Readers are denied some very important information in the article "Land-Use Advocates Make Gains," Oct. 3. The new "coalition" the author describes is actually a slick, industry-funded public relations campaign designed to gut the nation's environmental protection laws. The central claim is to protect rights of the "little guy." In truth, big industry wants to plunder the nation's resources and is using the little guy to cover up its own agenda.The examples offered about "private property rights" aren't so compelling if you know the whole story - such as the Hungarian immigrant who went to jail for illegally destroying a wetland. Could this be the same Hungarian immigrant who was told when he purchased the land that it could not be developed, used that fact to negotiate a lower price, and was issued several warnings from federal and state agencies before filling in the wetland? And what about the neighbors whose homes were flooded because of th e severe drainage problems he caused by breaking the law? The goal of these groups is to allow unfettered industry use of public lands. This does not preserve natural resources for man. To the contrary, it ensures there will be little left for man to use or enjoy once today's shortsighted and greedy industries make their profits and move on. The most dangerous aspect of this throwback to the James Watt-era Sagebrush Rebellion is that many innocent people are being conned into believing the hype. Conservation does not prohibit the use of resources. It calls for reasonable use first, and absolute preservation only when necessary to prevent absolute destruction. Stephanie C. Sklar, Washington, National Wildlife Federation

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