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Comments

Ryan Talbott

Since Sam neglected to link my Op-Ed (but somehow linked an Op-Ed responding to it), I thought I'd provide it:

http://postgazette.com/pg/07018/754655-109.stm

Sam M

Great to hear form Mr. Talbott, as always.

In my defense (if such is necessary) the op-ed to which I do link does, in fact, link to his op-ed.

And I did link to a Post-Gazette editorial advocating more wilderness. Without a corresponding link to any of the groups opposed to such proposals.

No doubt I will soon be hearing complaint from them about equal time.

Such is the nature of the debate, I suppose.

But please do link away. And read whatever you can. You can find out more about Ryan's position by going to www.alleghenydefense.org

John Morris

The logical thing to do in both Big Sky and Vail. Would be to build tall buildings and apartments. That is assuming that any of these people had any sincere interest in not detroying the environment or in the case of the worker housing, had any concern at all for the people who worked in these places.

NY is filled with these Limo-Liberal dirtbags.

They support the arts but don't care if artist's have places to live and work. They throw gala fundraisers in the Soho lofts that they had the artists evicted from and then fly places like Big Sky and show how much they love nature while they fff the place up.

John Morris

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Californicator

Here's the breed, I am talking about.

Sam M

There is a longstanding and deep-seated fear that this exact process is going to happen in the ANF region.

Many percieve that it is already happening. If you canoe down the Clarion river below Ridgway, through Cook Forest, there appears to be some pretty high-end development along the river. At least higher end than the pop-up campers and trailer/camp set-ups that I remember.

Or take a look at the increasing amount of land that is posted, forbidding hunting and other outdoor uses.

Or take a look at where the activists who put the kaibosh to logging came from.

Now, I am stressing that this is the PERCEPTION. Some of it is real. Some of it... I am not so sure. Ryan Talbott, who commented on this post, is one of the activists. He is originally from Marienville. That sometimes gets lost in the mix. On the other hand, the guy who ran the ADP for 10 years was from New Jersey. Their lawyer, who worked at Pitt, was from somewhere in the midwest, I think. What to make of that? Hell if I know.

What also gets lost in the mix is that much of the land being posted is being posted by the people who have owned it for generations. Perhaps the hunters didn't treat it so well. Perhaps the owners are concerned about safety or liability. Maybe some of those riverside chalets are being built by locals.

I suspect it is about half and half on most counts.

The locals refuse to admit their culpability. As do the newcomers. And all of a suddent... TENSION.

Which sucks.

I am not suggesting that Ridgway is going the way of Vail or Aspen. I am not an idiot. But the anxieties are the same. I think of the proposal to build a large-scale resort near Warren, on the Allegheny Reservoir. Such a thing would fundamentally change the nature of the place. For better? For worse?

I honestly don't know.

But I do know that my own mother has a saying; "Keep quiet." She gets worried when people start talking about "publicizing" the area. She wants to continue flying under the radar. She's happy with it like it is. She knows that change is inevitable. She would just prefer it to happen slowly.

Last, take a look a the whole elk-herd-as-tourism success story, down by Benezette. Lot's of people go see the elk now.

And a lot of people are not so keen about that.

Frickin' flatlanders!

Mark Stroup

I must say that I'm fascinated with the idea of Ridgway going the way of Aspen.

Ryan Talbott

I wonder....are there conservative limo dirtbags? I bet there's more:

http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/20/2006/1966

Which is better for long-term community sustainability - tourism or resource extraction economies? I don't believe it has to be an either/or question. I support responsible resource extraction that is truly sustainable as an important component of an economy. In this area of PA, most of the land is privately owned, thus there's no need to access the small amount of federal land that exists for these purposes. Here, we should be focused more on providing what the private land cannot to the same degree...and that's a high-quality recreation experience. Of course, that is being lost because of the clearly unsustainable clearcutting and rampant oil and gas drilling that is going on all over the Allegheny National Forest.

What's going on in this area, particularly with oil and gas drilling, is resource extraction at its worst, which is wholesale exploitation of the resource without concern for the long-term ramifications. What's going to happen to this area when the oil companies are done drilling thousands and thousands of wells? It will be difficult to develop quality tourism when the forest is covered with oil and gas wells every few hundred feet. The evidence of the drilling will be around for decades, if not longer. The oil companies will have made their profits and the cleanup will be left to the state (ie, taxpayers).

I don't like what happens in places like Vail. I've been there, and probably will never go back. I also don't like what's happening here in the Allegheny...or what's happening in Wyoming with coalbed methane...or in West Virginia with mountaintop removal coal mining. Bottom line....whether it's tourism or resource extraction, if it's done in a "boom" mentality, it's likely to be bad in the long-run...for the community and the environment. I think more cities need to establish urban growth boundaries to encourage investment and development in "downtown" and preserve open space around the city. I think rural areas need to diversify their economies to encourage more recreation and tourism and that can be done without having places like Ridgway going the way of Aspen.

And remember, detached smugness knows no political bounds.

Sam M

I thank Ryan for his thoughtful and thorough reply. As is always the case with complex discussions, however, it raises as many questions as it answers.

I am thinking in particular of this excerpt:

"I support responsible resource extraction that is truly sustainable as an important component of an economy. In this area of PA, most of the land is privately owned, thus there's no need to access the small amount of federal land that exists for these purposes. Here, we should be focused more on providing what the private land cannot to the same degree...and that's a high-quality recreation experience."

The question is, what's reasonable? And how do we define sustainable? And how do we define "truly sustainable"? Does the FSC standard amount to true sustainability? If so, does that mean activists would support FSC certified logging on the ANF? Admittedly, I doubt a lot of the sales on the forest would pass FSC muster. But if they did? Or are we talking about a different standard? What standard?

Even more interesting is: "In this area of PA, most of the land is privately owned, thus there's no need to access the small amount of federal land that exists for these purposes." That is a very interesting "thus." I think people like Jim Finley have shown that small plots owners are some of the "worst" land managers in terms of long-term sustainability. The economic of forestry--especially with regard to taxation and other issues--make it extremely difficult for people to take the long view on five acres. But the fact of the matter is a tremendous amount of PA forests are owned by small landowners. As such, I have seen very smart and very sincere people argue that the large amount of forestland in private hands actually makes logging the ANF even MORE necessary. This might seem like so much capitalist hokum. But take a look at what happened to the price of black cherry when the Indiana Bat thing went down. All of a sudden, a lot of people started clearcutting there own timber. Which is bound to happen when buyers are offering $4200 per mbf.

Another interesting argument I have heard involves the history of the ANF, where some of the MOST productive timberland in government hands. As opposed to other forests where the government only got what the timber companies didn't want because it was steep or rocky. Here, the feds bought what was most heavily cut. Which just so happened to be the best and most accessible acreage.

"Here, we should be focused more on providing what the private land cannot to the same degree...and that's a high-quality recreation experience."

A high-quality recreation experience for whom? Hikers who like old-growth? Grouse hunters who like early successional species? Snowmobilers who want more trails? ATV riders?

Because honestly, there is a LOT of wilderness down around Quehanna. (And the area is not all that prosperous, I might point out.) But more importantly, what about those ATV riders. I would submit that there are more people in PA interested in riding four-wheelers than are interested in backwoods camping.

And a final point about private versus public lands. Ryan points out that private owners control vast swaths of forest. And they are not all small owners. Companies like Collins Pine own a lot of it, too. But here's the deal: Collins Pine allows people to do backwoods camping on their property. It allows people to hike and camp and fish. Know what it doesn't;t allow people to do? Ride ATVs. So, if the logic states that the ANF should provide opportunities that private land does not... More ATV trails on the ANF?

I am not saying that makes sense. I have never even ridden on a four-wheeler or motorcycle. much less owned one. So I don't have a dog in this fight. All I am saying is that a preference for recreation doesn't necessarily require less cutting. And it certainly does not require zero-cut.

It all goes back to those complicated questions about what the forest is for and, more importantly, who controls it.

Fred Young

Ryan Talbott is misguided! Instead of trying to stop drilling in the ANF he should litigate against the coal fired polluters in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Their acid rain poses the greatest threat to the ANF.

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