Kirk Johnson | Pittsburgh City Paper

Kirk Johnson 
Member since Dec 22, 2006


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Re: “Into the Woods Today

Friends of Allegheny Wilderness (FAW) is not opposed to logging in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), nor do we support the efforts of those who are. After all, timber production was part of the long-term rationale for President Calvin Coolidge in establishing the ANF in 1923. Correctly, there will still be high-quality saw logs going to the marketplace from the ANF in 2056 and 2106, just as there are in 2006. However, one use of the ANF that will be significantly diminished over the long-term unless decisive, forward-thinking action is taken soon is backcountry wilderness recreation. Remote roadless sections of the ANF, such as the Cornplanter area on the west shore of the Allegheny Reservoir, the Tracy Ridge area on the east shore of the Reservoir, and many others, are highly qualified for permanent protection under the Wilderness Act of 1964 as part of America¹s National Wilderness Preservation System. At less than two percent of its total land base protected as wilderness, compared to 18 percent for all national forest land in general and 11 percent for eastern national forests, the Wilderness Act is far from being fully implemented on the ANF. Of the 8,277 public comments the Forest Service received over the summer on their draft plan, more than 6,700 were written specifically in support of the eight prospective wilderness areas precisely delineated by FAW in our "Citizens' Wilderness Proposal for Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest" (online at www.pawild.org/exec_summary.html). The agency should not arbitrarily ignore this overwhelming public outcry in their final plan. Those who resist additional ANF wilderness designations brazenly flaunt a long-standing Congressional mandate to permanently protect qualifying national forest land as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System for future generations to use and enjoy. Such a position, whether taken by an elected official, community leader, agency employee, or others is just as mistaken as those who openly flaunt federal statue mandating that the ANF be managed "to furnish a continuous supply of timber." Protecting qualifying areas of the ANF under the Wilderness Act will not eliminate other uses of the forest such as timbering, oil & gas production, or motorized recreation. It would, however, bring real balance so that the ANF is truly managed for the "greatest good for the greatest number over the longest period of time." To help, readers can contact their Member of Congress (http://www.house.gov) in support of our Citizens' Wilderness Proposal. See also: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/15643920.htm Kirk Johnson, Executive Director Friends of Allegheny Wilderness 220 Center Street Warren, PA 16365 (814) 723-0620 kjohnson@pawild.org http://www.pawild.org

Posted by Kirk Johnson on 12/22/2006 at 12:11 PM

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