How disappointing to read the Jan. 30 column by former Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton, "Some places are too special to drill". While we agree that there certainly are such special places, Ms. Hamilton would have you believe that the entire Bridger-Teton should be off limits. The Bridger-Teton is not a wild, back-country forest. The majority of the Bridger Teton is heavily roaded and was, prior to Ms. Hamilton's tenure as supervisor, a working forest that allowed multiple uses such as logging, grazing and mineral exploration. The remnants are of these uses are still visible on the landscape due to their green color.
For those of us who live in communities adjacent to the Bridger-Teton, working together to safeguard the forest for multiple uses should be our highest priority, not locking it up. As a former forest supervisor for more than a decade, Ms. Hamilton continually ignored public sentiment concerning the use of public lands. True, she did have the support of some well-funded environmental groups, namely the Greater Yellowstone Coalition to which she currently sits as a board member. These same groups seek to circumvent established processes that provide for broad input and analysis. These same groups ignore the economic costs to the local economies. These groups circumvent this process and replace it with a political process.
We support the PXP proposal to exercise their rights on these leases. There is plenty of evidence, even within the Wyoming Range boundary, that industry can properly reclaim and mitigate adverse impacts. What can never be mitigated is the years of forest mismanagement and the effects on local economies. The Wyoming Range legislation was sold to the public with the provision that environmental groups could purchase these existing leases. We ask opposition groups to "put their money where their mouth is" and purchase the existing leases. We ask the Forest Service to keep the process in place and that proposals to lock up federal lands be postponed, pending the outcome of the ongoing Forest Plan Revision.
KENT CONNELLY, Kemmerer; PAUL C. JENKINS, Thayne; and T. DEB WOLFLEY, Fairview
Lincoln County Board of Commissioners