Letters at Length

Boomers, Google and one-log loads

In 1991, when I was 7, it wasn't uncommon for me to see "one-log loads" screaming through my hometown of Sheridan. At the time, even though my family's livelihood was dependent on lumber, I didn't think much of it. And around the same time, I can remember passionate dialog between adults about — what was it? Oh yes, the spotted owl.

Looking back, I guess they either hated the bird for taking jobs or loved it for preserving the last remaining tracts of old-growth forest. To me and my generation, though, the debate is just how I described it: a faded memory of an argument antiquated by technology, economy and time.

For the generation following me, who never saw a one-log load, the argument is even more futile. The Google generation, disappointingly so to its log-rolling forbears, doesn't see its economic fruit bearing from backcountry logging or front-country milling.

That's why we don't engage when politicians or timber managers gripe to the media about "lost cut" or "locking up the lands." We're an entire generation trained to see phenomena and trends as economic symptoms and associations.

We know that if there were a demand for timber, the turning wheels of industry would source it — and if that demand resurfaced, it's possible a new debate over preservation would reignite. But, as good economists, my generation easily identifies the commercial commodities forests can provide aside from stumpage; we want to take advantage of the 21st-century economic services a healthy forest offers that are unseen by 20th-century land managers.

Forget the fat stumps, the birds and the housing boom; those things are over. This is about age.

We've sat back and watched environmentalists draw lines on maps, lumber interests complain about it, and politicians rehearse scripts that fall somewhere in between — and they failed. There are no wood jobs, and spotted owl populations are still threatened.

To bring forest management policy into the 21st century, the boomers have only the option of yielding control to the 21st century. I know that's scary to a generation that has invested its entire life into only one career, but not doing so is detrimental to economic growth and ecological preservation.

So, I ask the generations before mine to please let loose their grip on public land policy and politics. We need purposeful jobs that fill an economic demand.

Let my generation project futures on clean water; allow us to restore a commercially viable fishery; let us develop geographic gems held in secret into popular outdoor destinations. Because we're not anticipating any one-log loads within your lifetime.

Gabe Howe,

founder and president, Siskiyou Mountain Club


A rolling stop endangers no one

As an avid cyclist who does not own a car, I read with interest the recent letter to the editor by John Colwell.

I agree that cyclists need to ride safely and obey the rules of the road. I've seen many, many cyclists do stupid and dangerous things, and when possible I tell them so.

But to expect a cyclist to come to full stop at every stop sign or face a $200-plus fine is absurd. Cars don't even do that most of the time and all a driver has to do is push a pedal to stop and start. Cyclists who come to full stop have to regain their momentum with physical work.

While it's true that we are not as safe from impacts as drivers in their steel cocoons, we also have much more information when we approach an intersection than drivers do. We are higher up for one thing, our visibility is unobstructed by window frames and mirrors, and most importantly we can hear much better. Cruising slowly through an intersection while checking carefully both directions for traffic poses no threat to public safety whatsoever.

I would love it if tickets were given out in Ashland only for violations that truly affect public safety but, sadly, this is not the case. Tickets are given out, as well as intimidating and insulting lectures, for other reasons as well. Abuse of power and revenue enhancement come to mind as two of the major ones. I sincerely hope that officers will take into account the spirit as well as the letter of the law when considering whether to give out a ticket or a warning, but I don't think that's very likely.

So now, in addition to watching traffic flow, every other driver on a cellphone, and other cyclists, I also have to keep an extra eye out for cops who want me to do what they don't even do when they come to a stop sign. Cyclists beware, indeed.

Gene Burnett


Let's hear it from the police

John Colwell's advice to Ashland's cyclists to shape up or be cited (March 17) makes me wonder. Does he speak for the Police Department, as a member of the Transportation Commission, as a cyclist, or as an ordinary citizen?

He apparently attended a Police Department staff meeting (in what capacity is not stated) and reports that fewer than 2 percent of traffic citations written in Ashland are to cyclists. Should it should be more?

Are cyclists to expect a crack-down? He seems to imply that this would reduce accidents involving cyclists. In what proportion of accidents involving cyclists is the cyclist at fault? And when the cyclist is culpable, who gets injured other than the cyclist? Let's see the data.

I have been a cyclist, a pedestrian, and a motorist in Ashland for more than 30 years. I see bicycle riders do stupid and illegal things all the time. Things such as riding at night without lights, against traffic, running red lights and weaving through pedestrians on downtown sidewalks.

I won't argue that these infractions don't deserve citations. On the other hand, enforcement of traffic laws on motorists seems pretty soft. When on my bike I must always be on the lookout for drivers drifting into the bike lane while talking on cellphones, or rolling through stop signs where I have the right of way.

When entering a crosswalk on foot where there is more than one lane of traffic, one must not assume that traffic in the other lane will stop as they are required to by law. When driving, most other motorists seem to have the idea that they can add 25 percent to the posted limit.

The hazard to public safety by motorists' bad behavior far exceeds that of cyclists. If there is to be stepped up enforcement, let it be in reasonable proportion.

Bill Southworth


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