Our Forests are a Sanctuary

Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Old growth forests are a sanctuary for myself and my family from the noise and chaos of our growing city. Here we can relax, experience natural sights and sound and soak up the peace of the forest.

But the US Forest Service recently roaded and logged some of our favorite areas near Bozeman, such as Kirk Hill Ridge and a formerly roadless portion of Bracket Creek in the Bridgers. Some of these trees were right along a nature trail near town and were up to 180 years old.

Seeing these giants hacked down is like watching old friends killed. An ugly new road now crosses the trail and stumps are everywhere.

Believe it or not this logging and road building on public lands was sanctioned by The Wilderness Society and Greater Yellowstone Coalition. The Forest Service claims this logging will slow or stop a wildfire, but big old trees guard the forest from fire by keeping it cool and moist and slowing the wind that drives wildfires.

Big trees also store lots of carbon and emit oxygen, all for free, as well as housing wildlife and adding aesthetic beauty. So many old growth forests have been liquidated by logging, it is time to say hands off what remains.

Phil Knight is an environmental activist in Bozeman, Montana. He is a board member of the Gallatin-Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance.