Saving public forests by listening to the people
I was pleased to see your Jan. 8 article "Both sides ready for war over environment" covering President Bill Clinton's historic decision to protect close to 60 million acres of roadless national forests around the country.
The US Forest Service and the Clinton administration have clearly listened to the 1.6 million people who submitted comments in support of protecting our wild places. As the president said in his remarks, " ... more Americans were involved in shaping this policy than any land preservation initiative in the history of the Republic."
The new Roadless Area Conservation Rule reflects a public mandate to protect our last wild places from destructive activities like logging and road building. This conservation plan is one of the most sweeping environmental initiatives of the past 100 years and will ensure that our national forests continue to provide clean water for communities across the country, recreational opportunities for millions of people, and critical habitat for rare and endangered species.
Unfortunately, special-interest groups and their allies in Congress have already threatened to roll back the new wild-forest protection policy in spite of its overwhelming public support. It would be irresponsible to attempt to remove protection from our public forests at a time when the public is clamoring for more open-space protection.
John Griffith Washington US Public Interest Research Group
Planning will save the environment
Regarding your Jan. 4 article "Natural capitalism": I enjoyed your insightful reporting on the growing cooperation between environmentalists and developers.
For those of us who love the natural world, it's disturbing to see so much of it disturbed by the bulldozer.
However, one could make a case that the history of humanity is the story of humans deranging the earth. It begins with a stone wall or tamped earth in the midst of huts. Every contemporary house is an alien artifice. The irony is that we like to live in Manhattan and enjoy the wilderness.
If the tacit plan is to fill the surface of the planet with people, then at least we have the obligation to look as far ahead as we can and calculate the amount of water, food, shelter, and recreational space all those humans will require. Setting standards of beauty and consonance with other structures and the environment would help erase commercial clutter.
Chris King Sherborn, Mass.
Opinion pieces represent both sides
One of your recent letter writers seems to feel that your opinion pieces reflect a left-leaning slant - funny, but I had the opposite impression during the campaign. This must mean that you are doing your job and presenting both sides in a fair manner. We just can't see it because of our slant.
Steve Loher Boston
Ken Burns and women's suffrage
Regarding your Jan. 9 editorial "Jazz hits a timely note": I share your enthusiasm for the work of Ken Burns, but I am troubled that in praise of his past works you do not mention "Not For Ourselves Alone," the account of the women's suffrage movement.
This seems to reinforce the lack of appreciation for this wonderful crusade, which enfranchised half of adult Americans and led the way for the vote for women of the world.
The women of America voted in 1920 because one man in Tennessee was persuaded by his mother to cast the vote which ratified the 19th Amendment and brought a campaign of 90 years to a glorious conclusion.
Ruth A. Densmore Chardon, Ohio
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