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Reader differs - mostly - with Commissioner Downey's assessment

by The Western News
| January 11, 2012 9:47 AM

Letter to the Editor,

I was disappointed in a recent letter to the Editor by County Commissioner Ron Downey from Troy.

In it he expresses concerns over losing access to public lands if more wilderness  acreage is added to the Kootenai National Forest, as part of Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

I was disappointed because this isn’t quite true, and I think he let his personal bias overshadow his responsibility of looking into what’s best for jobs in Lincoln County.

He starts right off by misleading the public by referring to Sen. Tester’s bill as the “Tester Forest Jobs / Wilderness Bill.”

Then he cuts right to the chase by sharing his opinion by stating, “We don’t need additional wilderness,” which is fine and well within his rights as a citizen, but as a County Commissioner representing me, I’d appreciate it if he dropped the “we.”

I have made my living working in the woods or in forestry in one way or another for almost 40 years and have had a front-row seat to witness the collapse of our local timber industry.

There was a lot more to it than “environmentalists” and protecting wild lands, but you wouldn’t think so listening to the lip-flapping politicians and local lobbyists, who are still at it today.

There is no doubt in my mind, the beginning of the end was when Champion came to town.

I plan to keep going for a few more years, at least, but could sure use some more work and material from our public lands.

What’s happening now is definitely not working, which is why I applaud Sen. Tester’s efforts. I think it’s interesting to note the most vocal opponents to the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act are the environmental extremists on one side who want to stop everything, and the same old industry mouthpieces on the other.

If this bill ever passes, I suspect folks from both these groups will be out of a job, which suits me just fine.

Lastly, I couldn’t agree with Commissioner Downey more when he says he’d like to “utilize our renewable resources and have work for our residents.”

I’m certain Sen. Tester wouldn’t argue with that fact either.                                  

— Tom Horelick

Libby