For the week of July 8 thru July 14, 1998  

Complain, complain

Like the new forest fees or hate ‘em, people will have a chance to tell Forest Service officials what they think of the fees at a hearing early next week.

Unfortunately the hearing is not going to be chaired by Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, the chief cheerleader pushing the fees and trying to convince the gullible that the fees are not a new tax.

Unfortunately, none of Idaho’s congressional delegation is scheduled to attend. They would get an earful. They need to experience the ire firsthand. They need to meet head-on the suspicion that the fees are the first part of an effort to push the public off its own land. They need to stand up and face questions about potential budget reductions or redistribution of fees outside local forests. They need to come Ketchum in high season, where recreation is king, and listen. They need to talk to people for whom pine trees are more important than parking places.

Hearing that people are upset from an aide or reading it in a letter isn’t the same. It’s a lot easier to dismiss people when you don’t have to look them in the eye.

The hearing will be chaired by a moderator and comments must be offered in writing—presumably to keep people from taking it out on the wrong people. That would be killing the messengers in the Forest Service, and they don’t deserve it.

If the hearing is to be any more than a futile exercise in blowing off steam, organizers need to make sure comments are recorded, compiled and provided to the congressional delegation.

People who want to comment on the fees should attend the hearing on Tuesday, July 14, at Ketchum City Hall at 6 p.m. to get on the record.


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