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Readers Speak

Leadership is failing

Dear Editor,

The way to effectively deal with a pandemic is actually quite well known: a coordinated nationwide effort including comprehensive testing, tracing, and isolation when needed to nip outbreaks in the bud; consistent physical distancing and mask-wearing in public; and a careful stepwise reopening of the economy after the initial shutdown.

Over the past four months, most other nations in the world have used these approaches to successfully manage the COVID-19 virus and move their economies forward. But America’s effort to do so has been a spectacular failure, with over 120,000 deaths, 2.4 million known cases thus far, 30,000 new cases per day (and rising), and a second surge now raging through more than half of our nation’s states where their medical resources now on the verge of being overwhelmed. We are essentially treading water at high tide as a tsunami approaches, while other nations view us with a mixture of bewilderment and pity.

But rather than trying to do everything in his power to get this pandemic under control, Mr. Trump is instead focusing on himself and his re-election efforts, telling us that this pandemic is now “behind us” thanks to his “beautiful” handling of it, and that it is now safe to rapidly re-open the economy (obviously thinking that a good economy is his best ticket to re-election) although his relentless pressuring of governors to do so is now backfiring horribly. He mocks physical distancing and masks, insists on holding indoor rallies providing perfect “super-spreader” conditions for triggering major outbreaks, and states that he wants testing to be “slowed down” because the resulting numbers “make him look bad.” He is ending federal funding for such testing as of June 30, and is currently asking the Supreme Court to end Obamacare, which would result in tens of millions of people losing health insurance and end protection for pre-existing conditions for everyone — in the midst of this pandemic.

According to real experts, this situation is bad and rapidly worsening. Mr. Trump’s blatant self-centeredness, ignorance, and incompetence is resulting in unimaginable devastation and suffering, revealing with painful clarity that he lacks what it takes to lead us through this crisis successfully. This is an epic failure in leadership, breathtaking in its scope and depth.

So now it falls on us to restore capable leadership to our nation come this November.

Dale E. Buonocore,

Warren

Seeing forest from trees

Dear Editor:

I read a June 29 letter to the editor with interest. I am glad that the writer has a passion for the forests that surround our community. I was troubled, however, by some misstatements in the letter.

First, there are very few 400-year-old trees in the forests around us. Most of our forests, including those on the Allegheny National Forest, regrew after harvests between about 1890 and 1930. The very beauty the writer celebrates is found in once-harvested forests! Ninety-nine percent of the forests in our region are less than 150 years old. To have a chance to see 400-year-old trees, visit the Hearts Content National Scenic Area or the Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Areas, set aside for natural processes to occur. Timber harvesting won’t happen there.

Second, the Allegheny National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan limits timber harvesting to about 73 percent of the forest, not the 98 percent that Mr. Doverspike worried about. The plan also limits the amount of recently harvested area — forests younger than 21 years of age — to no more than 8 percent of the forest. Timber harvests are carefully planned to ensure that new forests grow to replace those that are harvested. Timber harvesting provides important habitat for wildlife and plants that depend on young forests. It also provides needed income to school districts and townships in and around the National Forest and jobs to our citizens. Timber harvesting can be an important tool to manage forest health challenges, as readers of the Times Observer will remember from the controversy about harvesting ash trees as they died from the infestation of Emerald Ash Borer.

Our forests are the cornerstone of the natural beauty that surrounds us, and we are privileged to be able to participate in setting management policy for those forests on public land. Let’s base our input on correct information!

Susan L. Stout,

North Warren

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