Letters, March 6

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    Explore city forest land

    The City of Ashland owns a total of over 1,100 acres of forest land. The Ashland Forest Lands Commission oversees and directs the management of such lands, including all of the undeveloped forest land administered by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department.

    Some of these parcels, such as upper Lithia Park and Oredson-Todd Woods, are in close proximity to residential portions of town. Others, such as the Winburn property, are deep within the Ashland watershed. Vegetation ranges from oak-chapparal-pine in the lower elevations to mixed conifer in the higher elevations.

    Goals for the management of these lands are specified in the Ashland Forest Plan, most recently revised and adopted in 2016. Ecological goals include promoting healthy resilient native forest ecosystems, maintaining water quantity and quality, and actively managing vegetation to reduce the likelihood of high-severity wildfire that would threaten many of these values. Social goals are to encourage citizen input, to increase public awareness of sound forest management, and to integrate recreational opportunities into the management of these lands.

    With an eye toward those social goals, the Forest Lands Commission is planning quarterly public outings in March, June and September. These outings will be led by Forest Lands commissioners and are designed for all ages. We will have easy hikes into a different area each time, where we will discuss treatments that have been applied in the past, what is being considered for the future, and the ecology of the particular area.

    The first hike is scheduled for Saturday, March 16, with March 30 serving as a backup date in case of inclement weather. This hike will visit upper Lithia Park, where we will see and discuss forest health issues. Meet at the large parking area with a chain link fence and boulders on Glenview Avenue no later than 9 a.m.

    The second hike will take place on June 8, with a backup date of June 22 and will visit the newly acquired Acid Castles property off Hitt Road, where prescribed burning was recently conducted.

    The third hike will occur on Sept. 7, with a backup date of Sept. 21, location to be announced.

    All hikes begin at 9 a.m. and will last approximately three hours. They are appropriate for all ages. Come learn about and enjoy our forest lands!

    Shannon Downey, Ashland Forest Lands Commission chairman


    Hanoi summit

    It has been estimated that the misguided Trump-Kim Jong Un “summit” cost the American taxpayer $6 million at a bare minimum. Well heck, I guess that’s not much when we have a $22 trillion deficit.

    Bill Tuck


    A sow’s ear

    It is very important to support local, pro-environment farmers. This does not describe Uproot Meats.

    Vegter, owner of Uproot, fabulous at sales, is virtually the Music Man of Ashland, creating a bogus need (absence of local, sustainable meats), for her “noble remedy.” Local farms (Willow-Witt Ranch, Salant Family Ranch, White Oak Ranch, and more) already provide this. Unfortunately, while their farming surpasses Vegter’s, her advertising obliterates theirs.

    There is nothing noble here. “Good stewardship of the land?” Over-excavating (unpermitted) a hillside to grow pot, eliminating thousands of trees planted for post-fire erosion protection, adding hogs which destroy remaining needed vegetation, is not good stewardship of the land. Damaging others’ farms without apology or reparation, is not integrity. Turning to pigs when pot failed, saying hilly property was chosen for better “muscle/fat ratio,” is not honesty. Neither is saying “pasture-raised,” with only bare, shelterless pens, or “There will be no more excavation” (Jan. 7 county hearing), and bulldozing two days later. Submitting plans to the county for a slaughterhouse, while using the unpermitted same as a residence, is obfuscation.

    Uproot’s owners have minimal experience. Uproot’s land, of steep slope, no irrigation rights, sieve-like soil and underground rock plates, would never have been chosen to raise pigs by those experienced at such. Hog farming publications heavily recommend flat land, well away from dwellings. Area farmers are shocked anyone would put hogs on a hill, right above an irrigation canal.

    I doubt customers of Uproot know the interrelated factors of the property. Neighboring farmers know, and are concerned for their farms, and for Ashland. Anticipated: contamination, mudslides and more.

    Fighting the land’s nature, for pig slaughtering, is a mistake. Mistakes can be forgiven, especially when acknowledged and corrected. Denying a harmful mistake is another thing. It’s not a silk purse — it’s a sow’s ear.

    Hyiah Sirah


    Don’t cover the canal

    It is with concern and alarm that I recently learned of the city’s plans to cover the TID ditch that runs near my home.

    This intrusive and expensive project (estimated cost: around $4 million) would fundamentally alter the quiet rural character of our Terrace Street neighborhood. Nearly 300 trees lining the canal would be felled, depriving cover for the abundant wildlife of the area including deer, bear, owls and numerous other birds.

    There are more affordable and more environmentally conscious solutions to the problems the city cites as reasons for this project. The leaking that accounts for the majority of the water loss could fixed for a fraction of the cost of covering the pipes.

    In living 40-plus years on Terrace Street, I have come to greatly value the wilderness corridor along the existing pipes as a sanctuary of of sorts, ideal for walking dogs and humans, and as a place of respite from the increasing construction noise and traffic that disrupt what used to be a quiet country road. I implore the city to do the right thing and be mindful of the considerable negative impacts that this project entails for the neighborhood residents before green-lighting it.

    Mike Fitch


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