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Editor, The Tribune
July 1, 2002

As I read the two articles today on the editorial page of the Tribune – Sam Coppersmith/Joe Tenney – it brought back many memories of the eighteen years I lived in Show Low. My husband and I currently have a home in Linden and I can hardly comprehend the enormity of the Rodeo-Chediskie fire that has devastated practically the entire Mogollon Rim. My heart aches at the hundred of thousands of acres burned up and left to the ravages of erosion.

Shortly after I left the Mountain and moved to the Valley, logging was stopped because of the radical environmentalist. The logging families I knew cared deeply for the forest – after all it was their livelihood. They were not in the logging business to destroy the forest – they cared for it by using proven forest management methods. I was livid when the “spotted owl” drove my friends and fellow White Mountain loggers out of the forests. Many had to leave the area to try and find work in the Valley. For the past few decades the forests have been off-limits to loggers and most practical forest management policies. Those that insisted on this course of inaction are the environmentalists and their activist judges. As we look at the loss of sustainable habitat, this fire is truly a testament to irresponsible lawsuits.

One of the many unfortunate changes made by our Federal Government under former Secretary Bruce Babbitt was to change the BLM district offices to field offices to keep all decisions at the national level and as far away from local interests as possible. Rural populations and small towns in the United States have not only been ignored by Congress but have been the victims of legislation that is geared to their destruction. Stupid and poorly crafted laws like the Endangered Species Act are prime vehicles for the radically unfair attacks on rural America by leftist environmental organizations and often times endorsed by congressional action and judicial decisions.

I also believe that the media in our country can shoulder some blame for what has occurred with these onslaught of western fires as well as the choking out of cattle ranching, the stifling of mining operations, and harm to farming in general. This is happening because rural Americans face not only a silence of censorship from the media but also outright attacks by a majority of the media who actually seek to demonize the resource provider. Well known writers and shapers of public opinion, safe from reality and need, pen views birthed in the ivory towers of academia, that supports the inane agenda of environmentalists, thus hastening the end of the American agrarian culture. The farmer and rancher who feed the families of the journalists, the logger who provides them papers and shelter, the miner who provides steel for their automobiles as well as gold for their jewelry, and the oil-man who fuels it all, are targets for their uninformed and shallow diatribes.

Perhaps by electing a man like Lewis Tenney to Congress, who has a lifetime involvement with forest management along with the courage and integrity of his convictions and the ability to bring disparate groups together – sanity will again reign. I’m confident that our able Congressmen Flake, Shadegg, and Hayworth will work well with Lewis Tenney as they unitedly go to Gail Norton, Interior Secretary, to rectify some of these terrible actions taken by the previous administration.

I offer prayers and praise to my White Mountain neighbors for their undaunted spirit and courage in the face of this overwhelming catastrophe.

Representative Karen S. Johnson – District 18

Paid for by Committee to Elect Karen Johnson