Letters to the Editor
The likelihood that any county commission can really influence the establishment of a National Monument is probably very remote. But the commissioners in recent weeks more importantly generated an insight into how they make decisions and whether those decisions reflect their stump speech promises.
The meeting on the 3rd of January which attracted about 100 people to discuss having the Cranberry Wilderness area become a National Monument became just such a window into the minds of these men. Each of our county commissioners ran for office on a platform of seeking jobs and bringing economic development into the county and doing whatever was best for all the citizens. The dialogue at the meeting on the 3rd became heated between folks supporting and those opposed to any National Monument. The irony, though, is that those opposed simply wanted to satisfy their individual self-interests, their own selfishness. They fervently wanted the county to “stay the same” in regards to their interests in hunting, fishing and camping. And all of them voiced a total distrust in the “Government.”
The proposal to make the Cranberry Wilderness area into a National Monument if enacted would consume only a small portion of the 600 square miles in Pocahontas County owned by the Government. It is only because of this government ownership that Pocahontas County is such a wonderful place for all of us. It has been shown over and over that local economic activity increases when an area has been upgraded to National Monument status.
So while I was not surprised that these hunters voiced their selfishness at the meeting I was surprised that the commissioners so easily seconded these people to the detriment of all the other citizens who want jobs and depend on tourism for their livelihood. My biggest surprise came when Dolan Irvine opined that because schools were funded by the taxes on timber sales he would vote against the National Monument because he did not want to jeopardize these funds. Dolan, as tax assessor for a million years, knows full well that there have never been any timber sales in the Cranberry Wilderness and that such sales are prohibited. So Dolan’s pledge to protect the county environment and to seek economic development during his campaign was really only a smoke screen so that he would get elected and then support the guys he grew up with.
Likewise Jamie Walker went so far as to say that he voted against the Monument because he feared that fishermen might be restricted to catching but one fish and that no one could feed their family on that. Of course this is preposterous since this county boasts hundreds of miles of fishing waterways. And of course Jamie does not even acknowledge that it is the government who stocks all our creeks, streams and rivers. As a “hunter” he is willing to help his buddies while stabbing the rest of the citizens in the back.
Folks told me many times that I better “go along to get along,” Ha. It seems that David Fleming got the same message and simply voted to“get along.”
Oh, yes, all the commissioners were threatened with being voted out of office by these selfish, vocal few. So we now know that our commissioners are perfectly willing to speak with forked tongues when running for election so that they can do the bidding of their friends when elected.
I want to personally thank Dolan, Jamie and David for revealing their true selves. Like those humans who are unfortunate to have spondylolisthesis, our commissioners also suffer from having a weak spine.
Point of View Farm
Since I couldn’t attend the county commission meeting last week, I appreciated the thorough coverage in The Pocahontas Times, but I was concerned to read about some statements that were clearly uninformed.
Declaring a national monument would not affect federal taxes that Pocahontas County receives.
The PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) would remain exactly the same, because the land would still be federal land, and those payments are based on the total acres of federal land, not the way those lands are managed. The other funds the county receives under the Secure Rural Schools program are no longer based on a percentage of current receipts from logging, so they would also remain the same.
The economic benefits of logging that can be had from the area are small to nothing. The largest chunk of the area is the Cranberry Wilderness, where logging is prohibited by law. Falls of Hills Creek, Cranberry Glades, Tea Creek and Turkey Mountain are also special areas where logging is illegal. Most of the rest of the area is high country that is being managed for spruce restoration, and those in favor of the national monument are also in favor of continuing spruce restoration, which could involve some timber harvest.
There have been some legitimate questions about how national monument status would affect activities such as hunting, but while we are waiting for answers and community meetings with the Forest Service, making up concerns that don’t exist is just using scare tactics, and will not help us find common ground.
Last year more than 20,000 people were killed with guns in the United States where there are more than 300,000,000 guns. There are less than one million guns in Japan where last year there were zero people killed with guns.
Serious gun control is needed in the United States.
Write and/or call your representatives in Congress.