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Uncut wild forests benefit local economies

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When debating forest policy, it's always good to take anything the logging industry says with a grain of salt. For instance, industry executives are fond of saying how logging reduces the risk of wildfires. But, as your article on President Clinton's forest protection plan ("A road rage over future of US forests," July 19) states, scientific studies have shown this is untrue. In fact, because of the disturbances it creates and the debris it leaves behind, logging actually causes more wildfires than it prevents.

The logging industry is also twisting the truth when it says that protecting our wild forests will harm local economies and cause job losses. In reality, one of the biggest reasons that there have been job losses in the timber industry is that corporations have chosen to automate much of the logging process. If our wild forests are protected, local economies will actually benefit, because recreation and tourism bring 40 times as much revenue as logging to national-forest-dependent communities.

After all, nobody wants to take a vacation to look at clear-cuts, but there are many reasons to visit a pristine forest, from camping and hiking to hunting and fishing. The vast majority of Americans, all over the country and of every political view, support full protection for the wild areas in their national forests.

The Forest Service should give the people what they want, by protecting roadless areas from road-building as well as other destructive activities, including the roadless areas in the Tongass National Forest.

Nathan Wyeth Chevy Chase, Md.

Meeting the energy demand

Regarding your July 17 article "Natural-gas prices double, but where's the furor?": Too much dependence on any single fuel is dangerous, and natural gas is such a case. The recent sharp increases in gas prices highlight this danger. Natural gas has become the darling of the electricity community as it is relatively easy to buy gas turbines to produce power.

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