Proposal at odds with Forest Service mission

I am very concerned that the U.S. Forest Service is considering a permit to allow Ed Zink to construct a half-mile road through public land known as Hidden Valley (Herald, Sept. 25). This is a beautiful piece of public land with archeological and wetlands designation, and is used by hundreds of people in our community to hike, walk dogs, run, bike, ride horses and simply appreciate being there. Why is the Forest Service considering impacting this land to benefit one person? The land owners on the County Road 203 side are unwilling to grant Zink easement. I would like to deny him easement through my land too – the National Forest.

I looked at the mission statement of the Forest Service (www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/mission.shtml). One of the first things you read is a quote from the first chief of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, who summed up its purpose: “... to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run.” The site goes on to explain the Forest Service’s mission, motto, vision and guiding principles and mentions all sorts of noble and worthy things, such as, “advocating a conservation ethic,” “listening to people” and “(being) sensitive to the effects of our decisions on people and resources.” I looked hard, but I couldn’t locate anything that could be interpreted as serving individual over public needs or accommodating an individual because they made a land purchase without access. Everything on the site is about the land and people.

I hope that when the Forest Service opens public comment on the Zink road proposal, it actually listens to the land owners of Hidden Valley. After all, it is the land of the people that Zink wants to alter for his own personal benefit. As it says on the Forest Service Web site, “The American people can count on the Forest Service to perform.” It sure would be nice to see at least one government agency live up to that statement.

Mark Pastore

Durango

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