Opinion: Ray Peterson: Have we lost our minds when it comes to forest management?

Ray Peterson, former State Senator, County Commissioner and Town Councilman

Opinion by Ray Peterson for Cowboy State Daily
(this story originally appeared on Cowboy State Daily)

Another day of smoke and ash in our air and not being able to see our mountains just 20 miles away.  I’m thinking, I’m no doctor but this can’t be healthy air to be breathing.

Luckily, I’m not one fighting respiratory problems but feel terrible for those that do and must live with these conditions.  It seems that our entire summer has been filled with hazy air, burning eyes, limited vision and problems breathing.  Having spent my entire life in this area, I think back to better times when our air was clear, our skies were blue, and the air was crisp and clean in the mornings.  Things have certainly changed.

I remember attending meetings with forest officials, as a county commissioner, questioning the practices of their forest management.

We warned officials of halting timber harvesting and sales on our mountains and not managing a renewable resource properly would cause old growth forests that would be susceptible to disease and fire.

Twenty years later, we watch our forests burn up and acre after acre of brown diseased trees.

Our environmentalist friends who were so proud of shutting down our sawmills and halting all timber sales should step up now because they own this environmental disaster.

-- Advertisement – Story Continues Below --

They will never admit it of course, but history and our current situation is pointing a big finger at them for this man-made mess.

Poor management practices of the last forty years have brought us to where we are today.

Growing up here over the years, I can say that things have changed and not for the better. We desperately need a revamping of mind set and practices that will help us turn this environmental disaster around.

Timber sales, sawmills, and re-planting or seeding, will play a crucial role in helping us getting our healthy forests back. Now is time for our land management agencies to re-evaluate current practices and make the changes now to stop any further damage to our resources.

Admission of past mistakes are okay and will be accepted but now is the time to correct the problem.  I understand the policies will need to be changed and federal laws that guide those policies will need to be changed as well but our leaders in these positions can no longer ignore our situation.

We are literally burning up out here in the public land states because of bad policies and management practices. They have chosen the wrong voice to listen to and now all of us our paying the price.

The evidence of the mistakes of the past are upon us now as we live in our air polluted communities.  When your eyes are burning and you have problems breathing in a community of 700 people, it makes me wonder if we have lost our minds and have abandoned all common sense.

-- Advertisement – Story Continues Below --

These are natural renewable resources that we can manage and take care of as we should.  We can have clean water, clean air, and reasonably priced lumber that we have harvested locally if we just manage it properly.

To those in positions that could help us, that may read this.  It’s time to change horses, because the one you’ve been riding has led us all down the wrong path.

I’m for clean air, clean water, and healthy forests.  We have a long way to go to get those things back that have been taken from us.

Ray Peterson is a former State Senator, County Commissioner and Town Councilman.

 

 

For all things Wyoming, visit Cowboy State Daily online at cowboystatedaily.com and signup for the Cowboy State Coffee Break. Reprinted with permission of Cowboy State Daily. Copyright 2021.