National forests need better protection

Throughout this year we have seen firsthand the impacts of climate change and forest mismanagement, from record-breaking wildfires to crippling droughts.

Each of these events, along with the nearly ubiquitous desire to explore the outdoors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights the importance of public lands in Colorado. According to the Colorado Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, outdoor recreation, a sector that relies heavily on properly managing our public lands, generates $37 billion and contributes 511,000 jobs in the state annually. Beyond this, our public lands play a key role in protecting habitat and biodiversity from increasing degradation. They also provide Coloradans with clean air and water, which keeps us healthy and fuels recreation, tourism, agriculture, and ranching industries across the state.

However, the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed oil and gas rule threatens all of this. As another tactic for pursuing an “energy dominance” agenda, this rule would push for more oil and gas drilling in our national forests by cutting the public out of the decision-making process and limiting the Forest Service’s ability to enforce protections. This is bad public policy for the country, but it’s particularly harmful for Coloradans, our economy, and our natural resources. More oil and gas leasing will worsen habitat loss, air pollution, and the already-present impacts of climate change, including wildfires, droughts, and heat waves. At a time when health is at the forefront of our minds, this rule could undermine public health efforts by diminishing our national forests’ ability to provide clean air and water to millions of Americans. In Colorado, these impacts could be particularly hard-hitting for communities that rely on public lands for recreation, clean water for agriculture, and healthy forests for protection from fires. The Trump administration is again putting the interests of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the public interest by undermining the public participation and environmental review required by the National Environmental Protection Act.

Instead of pumping resources into a dying and dangerous industry, we should be investing in those that have the potential to create jobs and foster long-lasting economic growth. Beyond that, the U.S. national forest system is a treasure, not only for Coloradans but for the world, that we cannot take for granted and sell off to private interests. Congress must take action now to protect its constituents, our national forests, and our Constitutional right to have a say in federal decision-making processes.

EMMA GREGORY

Paonia

What would Jesus do in an online dating environment?

One measure of manners among single adults is how people treat each other when considering dating. Gents, have you ever asked out a lady and gotten such a sweet “no thank you” that you respected her even more after that?

Gents and ladies both would have to admit the problem has gotten worse with online dating. Today, most people simply “ghost” one another (disappear) when they are done with the “getting to know you” thing.

As I think back over my years of singlehood, I can think of only one time I was let down very gently. That’s a pretty low batting average — not at all how Jesus would recommend saying “no.” His advice? Treat your suitor the way you would like to be treated yourself.

KIMBALL SHINKOSKEY

Woods Cross, Utah

Go vegan and protect slaughterhouse workers

JBS slaughterhouse in Greeley, Colorado, was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to protect employees from COVID-19. The negligible fine wasn’t enough to stop the slaughterhouse from calling high-risk employees back to work.

Many people fear that the agency’s scant oversight and lax penalties are putting slaughterhouse workers at risk. News reports indicate that nearly 43,000 U.S. slaughterhouse employees — in 498 slaughterhouses — had tested positive for COVID-19 by the end of September. More than 200 of them died, and OSHA issued only two small fines.

Let’s not wait for officials to protect slaughterhouse workers — and animals — from suffering and death. We can do it ourselves by opting for vegan foods instead of animal-based ones.

Meat, eggs, and dairy “products” are not essential. We can enjoy tasty vegan foods, and slaughterhouse workers can join the growing vegan food industry. Visit www.PETA.org for more information and a free vegan starter kit.

HEATHER MOORE

The PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Virginia

When the people have spoken, let’s respect their decision

We are so blessed to live in America and have the freedom to elect our leaders without fear. When the election is over, we will have the president of the United States. Whether it is Biden or Trump, the sun will rise and set and people will continue with their routines. Whoever the nation has chosen, my husband and I will respect that leader as we have done in the past. We will not burn our flag, throw rocks at people or store windows, loot homes and establishments or vilify friends and neighbors who have chosen a leader who was not of our choice.

We urge everyone who is able to view the Amazon Prime selection “Presidents, Politics and Prophecy.” Possibly their angry and malicious hearts might see what the future for a president of America holds. In reality, not one of us is so powerful to make our future presidential selection after all!

CAROL VISCHER-LECHE

Orchard Mesa

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