Union Democrat staff

Ride 2 Recovery helps veterans heal

To the Editor:

I am a Vietnam veteran and have been diagnosed with PTSD. I heard about Ride 2 Recovery from the Veterans' Administration in 2010. I got really interested and decided to go. They started in San Francisco and ended at the Santa Monica Pier, which is about 500 miles in six days. I knew it would be difficult, but had no idea. Down Highway 1 the group of 200 wounded warriors went. The wounded warriors have physical disabilities and PTSD. We are sponsored by various corporations and have an entourage of various vehicles. I can't explain the feeling of excitement I get when you go by a school and see the children lined up with flags chanting USA. As the days go by we get to know each other and get a feeling of camaraderie. There is something magical riding down the coast with these men and women. As we ride into Santa Monica Pier there are water boats shooting water into the air and people on the on the side of the road and on overpasses cheering on the tired warriors on. The feeling of patriotism is everywhere. Since then I have done the Gulf Ride, which is from New Orleans, La. to Tallahassee, Fla. I have also done the Texas Ride, which is from San Antonio to Dallas-Fort Worth. The upcoming California ride will be my third ride. There are rides that go over different parts of the United States that Ride 2 Recovery. The rides are helping the wounded warriors heal.

I think it is important that the word gets out to people. There are wounded warriors in Tuolumne County and they may read this and decide to join the Ride 2 Recovery to educate the people and help the wounds heal.

Ron Stringer


Environmentalists not to blame for fire

To the Editor:

In the Sept.30 paper, misinformed letter writers Mark Johnson and Albert Flowers both blamed environmentalists and spotted owls for the Rim Fire's widespread damage. Johnson falsely claimed that spotted owl regulations prevented selective cutting in the Stanislaus Forest. Such claims are completely untrue.

CSERC and other local environmental groups supported every thinning logging project in the Stanislaus Forest for the last decade. Millions of board feet of sawlogs have been cut every year with support from environmentalists. For CSERC, this past winter I lobbied Regional Forest Service staff for extra funding for more sawlogs and biomass for the local timber industry. Environmental groups such as CSERC have consistently urged MORE thinning logging. But limited USFS staffing and limited funds from Congress prevented more projects from being planned and implemented. In addition, thinning logging didn't stop the extreme fire behavior of the Rim Fire. Even clearcuts on SPI land roasted.

Previously treated prescribed burn areas didn't work as effectively as normal. The exceptionally dry fuels and extreme fire weather conditions made the Rim Fire uniquely devastating.

Even before the fire was contained, CSERC and other local environmental groups have sought funding for extensive salvage logging, reforestation, and watershed treatments. There is no need for controversy when there are such vast areas of dead trees that can be salvaged. There is also no need for polarizing legislation to exempt salvage logging from all environmental laws that protect water and wildlife. There is a huge overlap of agreement amongst diverse interests that speedy salvage logging and reforestation needs to be done on a massive scale.

False claims against environmentalists are counter productive and simply show ignorance.

In the same way that the entire community worked together during the fire, all interests should collaborate for the massive fire recovery that is so desperately needed.

John Buckley

Executive Director, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center

Twain Harte