No wilderness ifs, &s or chainsaws

To the editor,

I want to express my extreme dismay at the recent Forest Service decision to allow the use of chainsaws in the Weminuche and South San Juan wildernesses – a decision that was made without any public input or comment time. This decision is entirely at odds with the wilderness designation: section 4(c) allows no motorized equipment within the wilderness boundaries, except in the case of an emergency. This is not an emergency!

The Wilderness Act was put into place to protect the rugged and quiet character of these iconic places. Making the use of chainsaws available would not only create an unhealthy precedent, it would degrade the Wilderness character.

There have been dead spruce in these forests before, and this situation with the beetle-kill, where the trees need to be cut down and removed to provide trail access, will probably last eight to 10 years. The whole process would be better served if the Forest Service were to hire trail maintenance crews and open wilderness ranger positions and teach them to use cross-cut saws to deal with the dead trees. Particularly where the terrain is very rugged, a chainsaw is a liability.

The Weminuche and the South San Juan wildernesses deserve the protection afforded them by the Wilderness Act. I urge the Forest Service to do what is right. Do not make any exception to the provisions of that Act. Do not allow chainsaws within the wilderness.

– Adele Riffe, Hesperus