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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Bulldozing old-growth forests for cattle grazing is profoundly reckless

Pinyon-juniper in Utah
Deer pause in a clearing among sage, junipers and pinyon pine in Utah.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: So the federal Bureau of Land Management is bulldozing millions of acres of native pinyon-juniper forest in the American West? Are we now emulating Brazil in its unashamed destruction of the Amazon rain forest?

Is a relative of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro the new chief of the agency? (It wouldn’t surprise me too much, given the other appointments this administration has made.)

I’ve walked in these native forests and seen and enjoyed the wildlife. Op-ed article writer Christopher Ketcham is right: “An ecosystem that defines the West deserves better” — certainly better than this idiocy.

Paul Cooley, Culver City

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To the editor: Ketchum raises excellent points. The fragile forests in the arid West will never recover from the federal government’s deforestation. Doing so in the name of ranching should make all Americans’ blood boil.

To add insult to injury, Western ranching on our lands goes mostly uncompensated. When such companies have exhausted a parcel of land, they simply lobby the BLM or the U.S. Forest Service for another parcel to destroy, leaving the taxpaying public holding the proverbial bag in terms of damaged streams, loss of critical wildlife habitat, loss of critical topsoil, loss of wildlife species and more.

The Western ranching and mining industries are among our nation’s largest recipients of taxpayer welfare. We continue to give these industries our public lands to destroy for free.

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Our Western lands don’t receive precipitation as reliably as other parts of the country. The solution is pretty simple: Raise livestock where grass grows, and do so on private lands. We simply cannot afford to continue giving this industry a free pass at the expense of critical forest habitats that belong to all of us.

Mark Van Leeuwen, Newhall

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To the editor: Ketcham shines a light on the little-known destruction of public lands and forests to provide grazing lands for cattle.

The destruction is part of the Trump administration’s overall efforts to turn over public lands to private interests, which often results in the decline of wildlife and the degeneration of fragile ecosystems.

As Ketcham related in his book, “This Land,” President Trump pardoned ranchers Dwight Hammond and his son Steven, who were serving prison terms for arson on public lands. By pardoning this criminal conduct, Trump demonstrated how little concern he has for preserving our public lands.

Ketcham’s enlightening piece about the assault on public lands informs all citizens and should prompt congressional investigations into Trump administration practices.

Bob Ladendorf, Los Angeles


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