Friday, May 27, 2022

YVFC director immediately shows ignorance of the Yaak

| March 1, 2022 7:00 AM

To the editor:

“Amy Pearson is the right person at the right time in the Yaak.” So said the infamous Rick Bass (who hasn’t lived in the Yaak in years) in an article on the front page of The Western News on Feb. 18 announcing the arrival of Amy Pearson as director of the Yaak Valley Forest Council.

Gee, Ms. Pearson, you have been in the Yaak Valley for five minutes and decided to insult everyone. Great start, and one that’s to be expected from the contentious organization you lead.

To quote you “If you go walk on that landscape right now [in Kootenai National Forest], you can tell it’s pretty damaged.” Damaged? If what you mean by “damaged” is the appalling lack of forest management caused by the endless lawsuits promoted by your group, then I would agree with you.

According to their own inventory, the KNF is growing more than a net 500 million board feet (mbf) per year. Despite this valuable resource, the KNF struggles to produce 50 mbf/year, mainly due to frivolous lawsuits such as those supported by the YVFC. Thus, there is an enormous backlog of valuable standing timber, growing older, more decadent, insect and disease susceptible, and fire prone with each passing year.

There isn’t even a moderately sized sawmill in Lincoln County. Instead of exporting two-by-fours, Lincoln County exports their children. Despite a statewide unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, Lincoln County languishes in last place among counties with a 7.5 percent unemployment rate, this despite being surrounded by billions of dollars of standing timber.

This is immoral, and wrong.

Where are your forestry credentials? You are director of the Yaak Valley Forest Council. Degrees in communications and philosophy, and a stint studying people and landscapes in a National Park, does not translate into an understanding of forest management in a National Forest. In fact, organizations such as yours keep trying to make all National Forests into National Parks. They were each set up to serve drastically different purposes by the federal government. If you had studied forestry, you would know that.

Finally, most residents of the Yaak Valley, especially those who did the hard work of brushing out the route, do not want the Pacific Northwest Trail moved. Your group has pledged open and honest discussions. All I see are made up statistics about grizzly bears, and how wonderful walking on U.S. Highway 2 will be for hikers.

Yaak Valley residents are willing to talk if you are willing to listen.

Larry Miller and Sandy Beder-Miller