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Letter to the Editor: Wilderness proposal is unsound

Thursday, January 10, 2008

To the editor:I am writing in response to the Dec. 19 letter "Wilderness deserves protection." I disagree with Adam Gohn's criticism of U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson's opposition to designating 49,323 additional acres of wilderness in the Mark Twain National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service findings in its 2005 forest plan said the proposal by the Missouri Wilderness Coalition to designate seven additional areas failed to meet the definition of wilderness for several reasons and certainly were not places of solitude as claimed by wilderness advocates. The 2005 forest plan did recommend 13 parcels of land totaling 1,770 acres be added to existing wilderness areas, for a total of 63,000 acres. Furthermore, no land that is currently wilderness was redesignated for other uses.

I might add that Emerson has been a true advocate of the forest products industry in Southeast Missouri. Our industry is a major economic engine that helps drive the rural economy. I appreciate the congresswoman's efforts to keep Mark Twain National forest land open for sustainable timber harvest. Sustainably harvesting timber from the national forest through the assistance of professional foresters and loggers will ensure the long-term health and viability of the forest for generations to come.

BRIAN BROOKSHIRE, Executive Director, Missouri Forest Products Association, Jefferson City, Mo.