Letter: Frying Pan logging critics show short-sightedness

Frying Pan logging critics show short-sightedness

This letter is in response to the article published by The Aspen Times, on Nov. 30, 2016, entitled, “Basalt, Frying Pan Road could see up to 933 logging truck trips from forest health project.”

All national forests, including the White River National Forest, have an obligation to plan, implement and administer timber sales and vegetation management projects. The management of our national forest lands is necessary in order to maintain diverse, healthy and resilient forests. The timber, water, pasture, mineral and other resources of the National Forest lands are for the use of the people, and shall always be.

It is somewhat disturbing to me that so many residents living in the Roaring Fork Valley, including but not limited to public officials, corporate executives and environmental organizations, are “alarmed” and “concerned” about this project. Your article quoted Aspen Skiing Co. executive and Basalt Town Councilman Auden Schendler as saying, “My question: For a short-term economic boost, does it make sense to damage a small-town economy for the summer?” and “Have you done the cost-benefit analysis here? Right now, this seems like a bad idea. But I’d be happy to be convinced otherwise.”

My response to Mr. Schendler and other opponents is simple: Conflicting interest must be reconciled and decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run. Projects like the Upper Frying Pan should be routine for the Forest Service, just as ski area expansion and recreation projects are routine and frequently implemented with little alarm or concern. It is imperative that we as a community support the Forest Service in implementing timber sales and vegetation management projects and promote the conservative and wise use of the resources that we all rely upon. Man and wildlife both rely greatly on the best permanent use of the lands and resources; therefore, we need use common sense and work together as a community in order to achieve decisions that benefit the permanent use of the lands and resources. The decision to harvest timber and manage vegetation on our National Forest lands should be based on the long-term benefits, not short-term inconveniences. We must devote these lands to their most productive use for the permanent good of the whole people, and not for the temporary benefit of individuals or companies. By managing these lands properly, efficiently and with quickness, we can reduce fire danger, improve habitat, expand our local workforce and industries, and get people working and connected with the land and resources again in a way we haven’t seen in a long time in this area.

Your article failed to report several good points about this project. It may be possible for hauling to be performed in the winter, which would eliminate the concern for interruptions of summer activities in the town of Basalt. If hauling is performed in the summer, it is only during the weekdays, so the impact to most people (the weekday working class) is minimal. Additionally, traffic count data shows that the highest daily traffic on the Frying Pan Road is on the weekends. Traffic control will definitely be a major aspect of this project and temporary traffic control signage will be highly visible and prominent prior to and during hauling. All log trucks hauling down the Frying Pan Road will be at or below the state legal load limit, so if the county and state roads are up to standards, there should be little concern of road damage as a result of the trucks hauling on county and state roads. Some of the major National Forest roads utilized for haul will be brought to standard as a result of this project.

Bret Conant