It's your forest, speak your mind

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We were shocked to learn that the Routt National Forest may prohibit certain forms of winter recreation to protect the possible home of an endangered wild cat.

More and more, we fear, Yampa Valley residents are feeling the pressure of the Clinton administration's green bootheel on their independent Western necks.

From what we know of it, the lynx protection idea is a strange one indeed.

It seems the bobcat-like predator that is the struggling star of a reintroduction effort south of Routt County is a roamer. In fact, it's possible, say Forest Service biologists, that the cat may walk into the Routt National Forest. For that reason, they contend, they must prepare the forest laying out a green carpet as it were. And a forest where snowmobiles roam is not one that is welcoming to lynx. Because of that, the Forest Service, following federal rules, may prohibit snowmobiling in certain areas of the forest so those areas remain places where the lynx would feel at home.

No doubt those local snowmobilers sent to find a more distant place to ride would find that type of management a waste of the tax dollars they are sending Washington to help run the national forest system.

The lynx proposal is laughably ridiculous. Are we really to accept the fact that certain recreational activities we have come to enjoy would be outlawed so the forest can be made ready for a wild cat that might wander this far north? Has the pendulum swung that far in the favor of animals that we would take a back seat to the potential habitat of an endangered species whether or not that species ever finds its way to the habitat?

The Routt National Forest has scheduled a series of meetings to inform the public about the administration's new plans for roadless areas. During the later meetings, the Forest Service will take comments on Clinton's roadless initiative.

Because the roadless plan, like the lynx planning, addresses motorized activity, the meetings will be a perfect time to listen to local Forest Service officials' reasoning for restricting recreation within the Routt. The meetings also will be a time to offer opinions about how we feel the forest should be managed.

If we do not take the opportunity the federal bureaucrats give us to speak our minds and shape forest management policy, then we deserve to be controlled by bizarre environmental policy like that being followed to protect a potential home of the lynx.

The first meeting on the roadless plan will begin at 4 p.m. May 23 at the Forest Service office in Steamboat Springs, 925 Weiss Drive (across from the Holiday Inn). A second meeting will follow at 5:30 p.m. June 21 at the same place.

We'll be there. Will you?

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