Union Democrat staff

Stinkin' shame

To the editor:

I am beside myself to see that we have another controlled burn that is out of control. What bothers me the most is we the people are not allowed to burn right now. That's a good thing. But the National Park Service can and does.

We're told that it is fire season. What do the feds not get? We get to pay for it in so many ways. Our health, tourism, taxes,etc. On top of it, not only do they burn during fire season, but also right before Memorial or Labor Day weekends. They work on the roads and make it difficult for the tourists to have a good time.

Their timing is beyond understanding ... I just don't get it. Those who have lived here a long time know that this area is fragile. We should burn when there is some moisture in the air, not when it's the hottest time of the season. Plus it's right before the end of summer vacation. Give me a break.

Who's thinkin'? They're not! Just another paycheck, folks. And we the people allow this? Shame on the person who wanted to burn. This is a stinkin' shame.

Sally Sowle-Taylor

Twain Harte

Unsparing critique

To the editor:

Tommy Wells letter of Aug. 10 was a rather unsparing critique of Betty Lovejoy's guest opinion last month about health care reform.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote that an argument voiced in an ill-tempered way generally has less validity than one put forth more soberly. (That's but one man's opinion, of course, and who defines "validity"?)

In six months or so we should know what sort of health care bill, if any, emerges - one closer to Ms. Lovejoy's (and President Obama's) proposals, or to Mr. Wells apparent preference for no bill.

Dick Peterson


Standard Mill closure

To the editor:

We are shocked and dismayed by the letter from Domenic Torchia (Sept. 3) regarding the closure of Sierra Pacific Industries' Standard Mill. He wonders if the closure (and the loss of 150 family-wage jobs) "is not a blessing in disguise." Mr. Torchia tries to pin the closure on weak lumber markets and SPI's management.

We manage our lands sustainably under California's strict forest practice laws - growing far more timber than we are harvesting. We also make significant investments to protect the environment in our forests and at our mill sites. The largest reason for the closure of the Standard plant is log supply.

SPI doesn't own enough of its own timber in the area to supply a sufficient quantity of logs to this mill. The Standard Mill relied on sources such as the national forests and other private landowners for much of its raw material needs.

Today's weak lumber market is a factor at every sawmill in the U.S. But the single largest factor for the mill closure is the fall-off in log supply from outside sources. The U.S. Forest Service has dramatically reduced timber sales in California, and litigation by anti-logging activists has further crimped sales. Small landowners have reduced their timber harvests because they can no longer afford the cost of preparing Timber Harvesting Plans for their private property. If lumber prices were the reason for closing, then every mill in California would be closed today. That's not the case.

Maybe Mr. Torchia should ask the families of the laid-off workers if the upheaval in their lives is a blessing.

Mark Pawlicki

Director, Government Affairs

Sierra Pacific Industries