Joel Saltzman, author of the July 26 letter "Energy and Revenue From Public Land," was until recently a registered lobbyist whose clients included oil-production and natural gas pipeline companies.

The Post, however, did not note that business agenda in the letter, although it certainly is relevant to readers' full appreciation of his defense of plans by the Bush administration to open tracts of U.S. Forest Service land to energy exploration and timber harvesting.




Joel Saltzman said that Forest Service lands have no "wilderness" preservation. Protection under the Wilderness Act of 1964 extends to nearly 35 million acres of national forests.

A standard view among public land managers is that wilderness preservation qualifies as one of the "multiple uses" for which national forests and other public lands are being managed.



The writer was director of the Bureau of Land Management from 1961 to 1963.


Joel Saltzman defended the proposed new rule on roads on national forest land, but the multiple-use mandate for national forests law does not mean every acre must support every use.

Although roads promote some recreational use, they prevent others. For example, trophy fish and game in Idaho and Washington consistently come from roadless areas.

Some 300,000 miles of road give the public access to most national forest land. Roadless areas are roadless for a reason: They are difficult to develop.

Although developers are supposed to restore sites, they often haven't; our national forest land has thousands of abandoned mine sites and thousands of miles of temporary logging roads that were never obliterated.

Before we develop natural gas on federal land, remember that natural gas developers have to pump enormous quantities of saline water from the ground. In some cases, it has overflowed holding ponds and washed down creeks, destroying bottomland grass at small ranches. If these are the effects on the Great Plains, what would they be in the fragile mountain watersheds that deliver some of our cleanest drinking water?