Union Democrat staff

U.S. Forest Service

doing its best

To the Editor:

For a decade prior to 2008, I was directly involved in planning and implementation of forest management activities on the Groveland Ranger District, Stanislaus National Forest. That's why I find Dr. Mosson's March 25 letter so disturbingly misinformed.

The U.S. Forest Service thinned trees on thousands of acres within today's Rim Fire footprint. In some stands, thinning was followed by prescribed underburning. A group of local citizens, including representatives from the timber industry, independent loggers, cattlemen, the local tribe, environmental groups and academia, monitored these activities. John Buckley was an active group member who supported thinning for forest health improvement and fire hazard reduction.

He also commented regularly during the planning of thinning projects elsewhere on the Groveland Ranger District, consistently arguing for responsible forest thinning to reduce fire hazards and improve forest health. Though not always pleased with Forest Service decisions, not once did he appeal or threaten litigation of forest thinning projects.

Thinning is not designed to stop a fire as intense as the Rim Fire. It's intended to improve forest resilience to fires that occur 98 percent of the time, essentially the ones you never see on TV or in the papers. While the value of products removed offsets some of the costs, responsible forest thinning and fuels management programs are investments in the future and require substantial funding. On national forest lands, these funds come from Congress.

Unfortunately, year after year, Congress has chosen to cut funding for this work, effectively reducing the amount of thinning that gets done. So instead of wringing hands or undeserving necks, please ring up your Congressional representatives to insist they deliver the appropriate funding, and not just the rhetoric, for forest improvement work that will provide sustainable, healthier, safer and more fire resilient forests in the long run.

John Swanson


Stage 3 change

for the better

To the Editor:

There was considerable hoopla and negativity over the recent change in artistic directors at Stage 3 Theatre. As long term patrons and donors, we believe the change is positive. Last season saw a series of depressing dysfunctional family dramas - well directed and performed, but depressing nonetheless.

Van Gordon brings a fresh breath of life to Stage 3. He is professional, yet outgoing. The new year has already brought us two outstanding plays. "Looking Over the President's Shoulder," a one man production, was thrust into Van's lap at the last minute. He overcame the lack of lead time by assembling a team to acquire props, do the lighting and sound and prepare the set. The end product was delightful.

"Park Your Car in Harvard Yard" completed its run last weekend. Van directed Stephen Daly and Susannah Holland in a sometimes funny, sometimes sad story that was well received by the audiences.

Van Gordon is committed to making Stage 3 a truly community theater - one that provides opportunities for anyone to audition. One that will encourage participation by the visual arts, students, musicians and other performers. If you enjoy truly entertaining theater that is not mainstream, give the creative folks at Stage 3 a try.

Gina Prock


Thankful for

God the Creator

To the Editor:

A prayer of Moses the man of God: "Lord thou has been our dwelling place to all generations. Before the mountains though were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God." Psalms 90:1-2.

There are those who may ask, "Who created the creator?" The great Creator God had no creator. He has always been there and always will be. He is from everlasting to everlasting, the Alpha and Omega.

This Creator God proclaims to Israel: "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: 'I am the first, and I am the last, and there is no God besides me." Isaiah 44:6.

This is an awesome concept but I think that if there were no Creator God who has always been there, then there would no autumn symphony, no winter's wonderlands, no spring sonnet, no summer's warmth to bring growth to the land, no miracle of birth of man or beast and no oceans teamed with life, no majestic mountains, deserts or forests with their beauty no stars to make our nights sparkle. I am grateful for such an awesome Creator God who has always been there and always will be

Mary Jean Vicars


Appalled by indifference

To the Editor:

I met Kevin, a soon to graduate 21-year-old University of California student, on one of his many trips to the mountains. He was a passenger in a car involved in a crash just east of Groveland.

This is a young man meant for big things. A career he obviously loves. Spending time in the mountains, hiking, music, teaching and learning.

Kevin will be 22 in one week. I wished him well, hoped he had a good day up here. I spoke of family, religion, new places yet to visit. I asked Kevin to hug my parents and I would do the same for him. What a handsome, accomplished young man. Any parents dream.

Then I apologized to him, I was unable to do anything more. He had been killed in that accident. I was the first to stop. This letter is one of a few promises I made to Kevin.

Not one witness stopped. I watched them drive by.

Thank you to all those who did stop and help. We all need you to continue to give help when it is needed. Bless you.

To those who did not stop, who will stop for your child or parent? I hope you will change your mind, soften your heart and help someone whom you do not know.

I would like to single out a young lady who stopped. I will call her Angel. You kept the attention of the driver by demanding over and over "Pay attention," "What's your name?" All while keeping pressure on the injuries. Thank you so much! You are a hero. You asked for names, cared for the injured. Then you vanished.

John Bukal