The Forest Service is doing a lot things that no one really knows about or sees. They are taking away our access and getting away with it, but they are also destroying or getting paid by someone else to destroy our forest.

The South Hills and Mount Harrison are being clear cut in areas so that more quakies can grow. They use the excuse that it is for the moose and deer to have food. But think about it, the moose and deer have moved in because there is already food and water there for them. These forests do not need to be changed. They need to be taken care of and let nature do its thing. They need the public to be able to come in and take out the dead trees to use for firewood.

Or they need to bring in crews to take the dead out. But that does not make much money, so instead they sell the live trees to the logging companies who come in and completely strip areas of everything except what needs to be taken out. The last time I was in Howell Canyon one of the most beautiful areas had been stripped of the pine trees, or at least the live pine trees. The logging company came in and cut them down. They left the dead standing. People who want firewood are not allowed to cut in these areas, so the land is bare except for wood that could be used to heat homes. I heard they are going to have many controlled burns in these areas to take care of what the logging companies have left behind. They are not doing this to just Howell Canyon either. Controlled burns are scheduled to happen all over the South Hills and the Sawtooth National Forest. I am not sure about how many acres are going to go up in smoke and I don’t know the reason. If it is to turn our evergreen forest into a deciduous forest whoever made that decision needs to come out and spend time in the forest to see that it is wonderful the way it is, or was. Many of these pine trees have been on this mountain for more than 100 years, maybe 100s of years.

I had seen the trees marked with blue and orange paint. I had no idea what that meant until someone told me those were being cut down. Who made this decision? Was there ever a public meeting concerning OUR forests? I believe in several areas there were more trees with paint markings that without.

Then, to top it all off, the slash piles are left behind leaving the area looking trashy. The dirt is so soft that it just blows away when the wind blows. When it rains there will be mud that will slide down the hills and create more problems. Our forests have enough problems with people who leave trash when they go or vandalize the signs, campgrounds, and whatever else they can. We don’t need someone who has no idea of our lifestyle coming in and destroying it, someone who has only seen it in books or thinks all forests should be like they are back east. The trees with all the different shaped leaves and different colors in the fall are great for them there, but here we love our pine forests. There is nothing like an early summer camping trip where you wake up to the smell of coffee and new pine growth smell. For someone who has never been to a pine forest, that smell is nothing like the little pine scented cardboard you put in your car to make it smell better. It is so much better and nothing can ever take its place.

But back to the problem of cutting our pine trees down. This has been going on for several years. Before Woody Anderson, owner and operator of Pomerelle, passed away he told me and my husband that he was just sickened when they came in and cut all the pine trees out of Bennett Springs. They left the quakies and dead pine trees. It is saddening to see this happen and to feel helpless because our government agencies do not include the public in the decision making.

Our forests needs to be cared for by our government agencies and the public. They need to see that these pristine areas are important to the lives of so many people who spend time there. They need to have public meetings and let people know when those meetings are going to be held. With all the ways to communicate these days it should not be too hard to get the word out. These are public lands and we should have some say as to what is going to happen to them. My children and grandchildren are never going to see the pine trees that were more than 6 and 8 feet in diameter and 50 feet tall. They are going to miss the beauty of what God and time had placed in the mountains and South Hills in Cassia and Twin Falls counties. We need our forests to be maintained and cared for but not changed from pine trees to leafy trees. There needs to be a natural balance that mother nature can manage pretty well if we give her room and time.

The saddest part is a lot of this has already happened and cannot be changed back, Future generations will never see the trees in Howell Canyon and the South Hills as big and beautiful as they were not so long ago.

We support Kimberli Seely as a candidate for Burley City Council. She is passionate about everything that she is involved in, not afraid to tackle hard situations and always accomplishes the end goal of any project that she is given with greatness. Kim’s excellent credentials and community minded outlook would be an asset to our growing city. We have seen Kim’s leadership abilities firsthand. She exemplifies integrity, vision as well as effective communication skills which are all important qualities of a leader. Join us in supporting Kimberli Seely for Burley City Council.

Keith and Sally Couch

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