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From Ted Nelson of Federal Way:

As a professional forester, I regretted the message conveyed in the Mirror’s editorial cartoon Aug. 23. It depicted President Bush’s “forest health” initiative as a way to favor lumber company interests. It is a distortion of the facts behind an effort to restore the nation’s public forests to health.

Millions of acres of national forest lands are currently unhealthy. The causes are nearly a century of efforts to exclude fire, often inappropriate forest practices of the past, and complex federal laws that foster inaction through litigation. The results are large areas of overly dense forests. They present a continuum of fuels from forest floor to canopy top. Many of these overly dense forests have become stagnated, a condition that invites tree-killing insects and disease. Dead trees help fuel fires once started. Stagnant forests also preclude the presence of many species of plants and wildlife.

This summer, a fire raged through a U.S. Forest Service experimental forest in northern California. When the fire reached an area that had been managed to reduce fire risk, it stopped.

The governors of western states met recently to deal with the forest health issue. The only debate was over where to begin. Restoring the health of our national forests needs to be an important national goal.

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