Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 16, 1972 · Page 43
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July 16, 1972

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 43

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, July 16, 1972
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Page 43
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Ocala: Showdown for U.S. Forest Survival ByBcnFunk . the Ocala l Forest was a wilderness Eden of pine trees that had stood tall when the nation was born, of hickory, sweetgum magnolia and orchids, of giant live oaks with outstretched arms decked in Spanish moss. It was here, amid fantastic beauty that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings found inspiration for The Yearling, the Pulitzer Prae-winning .story of a boy and his pet fawn. The South's largest deer herd roamed the forest. Bears fished in teeming waters. Wild turkeys galore roosted in the trees. On misty mornings, the graceful white- tailed deer gathered to drink from the banks of pure, spring-fed streams that sparkled like diamonds and, as the evening shadows crawled through shaded glens, mirrored the red fire of the setting sun. 6 The Ocala National Forest, once a wilderness, of great beauty, is now heavily used by lumber interests, land developers, Navy bombers and wildlife poachers. Now, conservationists say, the oil industry wants to turn it into "a forest of derricks. " But, first, a showdown fight will be waged that could help decide if all U. S. forests are to survive. WOODLAND BEAUTY DESTROYED BY LUMBER, PULP INTERESTS Forest's Latest Menace Is Oil Drilling Proposals BUT THAT WAS before, by U.S. government policy, lumber and pulpwood interests, land developers, U.S. Navy bombers and wildlife poachers began a systematic exploitation that was to abuse the Ocala perhaps more than any other national forest. It was before the timber industry was allowed to "clearcut" thousands of "acres of trees at a time, gashing great, ugly scars across, the face of the tortured wilderness. It was before developers began subdividing 65,000 privately owned acres inside the forest boundary, including almost all desirable waterfront on the largest of its 20,000 acres of lakes and ponds. It was before the Navy staked out a 6,200-acre range for practice bombing and strafing that shattered the forest stillness, started fires raging through valuable hardwood timber, throwing wildlife into panic. Today, except for a few spots--some maintained in virgin loveliness by conservationist owners--the Ocala is more of a huge, shoddy, trash-strewn land development t h a n a t r u e w i l d e r n e s s . Everywhere, signs proclaim that "The Heart of the Ocala" is for sale. AND NOW, SAYS Lyman Rogers, president of the Coalition to Protect the Ocala Forest, the oil industry wants to blanket it with oil rigs and petrochemical complexes. Rogers formed the coalition following his own discovery last year that the U.S. AUTO J U N K Y A R D MARS OCALA NATIONAL FOREST Former Wilderness Now Shoddy, Trash-Strewn Richard Lee Strout New Breed Trying to Get Born MIAMI BEACH-Can George McGovern lot of youth. And some were going through beat Richard Nixon? I don't know but I a rather endearing process of trying to be have watched a new form of political party responsible. Many idealistic reformers trying to get itself born here and for the" time being I will believe anything. There they sat. at 4:30 a.m.. a couple of acres of delegates and alternates, in a great, gaudy, colorful splotch of summer dresses and shirt sleeves in an otherwise empty hall. Yes, the public galleries were all empty hours ago; the press gallery was almost empty with the a.m. men "gone home and the unfortunate next day's afternoon paper men caught in a trip. But the awe-inspiring thing was that these delegates were alive and bouncy and there, due perhaps as much to their youth and inexperience as to their dedication and that instead of chaos which many had predicted, their keenness and manner were exemplary. In that particular roll call they were, in effect, throwing Mayor Daley out on his ear. I confess to a certain satisfaction in this. Four years ago at the Chicago' amphitheater, I went back and redeemed a stick and printed sign from the trashman which proclaimed, "We love Mayor Daley." He had hundreds of them printed. His supporters waved them. He made an angry gesture on TV at Abe Ribicoff over the Vietnam peace resolution. He wouldn't let the hippies sleep in the parks and helped to precipitate the riots. WELL, THAT IS OLD STUFF. But from that 1968 convention came the reform drive which nobody noticed at the time and, ultimately, the unusual position of Daley today. He just couldn't believe the new reform rules applied to him. He said that the reformers needed him to win the election, which likely they do. But when you see a political party do things like this, crazy as thcv may be. you rub your eyes and feel a certain sense of respect. A new type of delegate has prodr^ed a new type of convention in what could be a new type of party, and they have picked a new type of candidate. Pinch yourself. A most extraordinary convention. At the start, anyway, no confetti, no balloons, no bands, no whoopla. no "spontaneous demonstrations." Although the delegates were by no means all young, there was a that I talked to were discovering for the first time that compromise is necessary to make the two-party system work. To some the thought just hadn't occurred before. When the vote came booting out Mayor Daley, I asked a depressed Chicago reporter three steps below me in the press gallery what it meant. "It means they have just handed the election to Nixon," he said morosely. On the shuttle bus going back to the Fontainebleau Hotel at 5 a.m., a handsome young black was telling his companion happily that "This is the end of Mayor Daley." He said it with utter conviction. George McGovern is trying to widen his base and t h a t is the idea of the convention. Mistakes have been made. There is a certain brutality in the way dedicated old- Hmers who have given money and hope and years to the party have been excluded by the new delegate selection process. Personally I have always had a deep suspicion of proportional representation. Generally in politics it hasn't worked. If the safety of the nation were at stake, it would give this old reactionary no particular comfort to know, for example, that half the people at the war college strategy meeting were women. To his pragmatic credit I t h i n k McGovern tried to get Mayor Daley into the swirn of things agwin. The nld Roosevelt coalition is breaking up. Where are the big city bosses? Philadelphia's Mayor Frank Rlzzo didn't come to the convention because "Nixon is the greatest President this country ever had." Then there is 77-year old cigar- chomping AFL-CIO boss George Meany, who loathes McGovern and resents that for the first time in 20 years he has no lien on the Democratic candidate. In all those 20 years no candidate has been picked more ardent to help the worker than MrGovern. Indeed, there has probably been no more direct challenge to the Establishment since Bryan. MANY OF McGOVERN'S opponents here, who aren't reactionaries, are genuinely convinced that he's a disaster arid some say they are going to sit this one out and then pick up the pieces. McGovern is a former preacher and son of a preacher and, as Robert Sam Anson says of him in t h e b e s t b i o g r a p h y I ' v e r e a d ("McGovern": $7.95, Holt, Rinehart W i n s t o n ) t h e r e is a c e r t a i n self- righteousness in his utterance. He could have complained about the so-called "California-steal" of delegates without threatening to bolt his party. His rejection of Muskie's effort at the convention to harmonize differences by bringing rivals together had a certain moralistic tone. His proposal to "beg" North Vietnamese to release US prisoners set the teeth on edge of anybody who followed politics and realized the delicious satisfaction the phrase gave to Mr. Nixon, waiting there to pounce. But when all is said and done McGovern's record is inspiring. Trust among h«rdheaded conservative Dakota farmers is pretty impressive. The word is trust. They trust him. He looks honest. He is honest. My, my, think what that means for an underdog running against Mr. Nixon today. One of the reasons we like the Anson biography is that we find a quotation by TRB in it from May, 1970, in which we described his effort to get more food for the hungry. We noted that despite his distinguished flying cross he looked like a YMCA secretary. "It is awfully hard to stop men like McGovern," we wrote at the time. "They have iron in them. When they think about hungry children it bothers them." Yes. they go out and do something about it. We ended the piece in 1970, "Don't under-estimate him." That probably is the right advice today. McGovern has made the mistake (we think) of projecting his own passionate desire to aid the underdog into the campaign as an economic proposal instead of making the issue of the fight Mr. Nixon himself. The whole White House crew is getting ready to open up on McGovern and put him, not them, on the defensive. It can't be helped. There are a lot of underdogs in the country today, people with a feeling that they are somehow b e i n g g y p p e d . M c G o v e r n i s a "radical"--so what? Maybe we need something a bit radical for a change. Watching this new, extraordinary, often exasperating convention here we recall the man who came back perplexed from the Los Angeles tangle of Martian freeways and exclaimed, "I have seen the future, and it doesn't work." Can McGovern take the convention results and make them work? Don't underestimate him. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had quietly leased 95 per cent of the Ocala's 430,000 acres for oil drilling. Before the action became known, the Amoco Production Co. had staked out a site for its first well and was ready to put a bit in the ground. The BLM also had leased out Florida's two other national forests, the Osceola and the Apalachicola, to the petroleum industry, but Rogers' group decided to make its stand at the Ocala, hoping for a historic decision that could help decide whether other beleaguered U.S. forests are to survive. "The Ocala has undergone more stress than any other forest in America," said Rogers. "If we put on a fight to the finish now, there is something of value to save. The Forest Service has developed a 10- year plan to improve the Ocala, but the exploiters and the land developers are moving much faster than that. "The oil companies would have us believe that the need to drill on public lands comes from a great oil shortage. Actually, they want to drill there because it's cheap. It costs a lot less to deal with the BLM than with hundreds of individual landowners." July 16,1972 3D ROGERS, A SPORTING goods manufacturers' representative now devoting much of his time and personal funds to a rapidly-spreading war against destruction of the Florida environment, enlisted some of the state's best scientific brains in his coalition. Their investigations, he said, showed that petrochemical industries invariably follow the development of oil production, with devastating damage to the marine resources of coastal regions and "unerring ill effect on human living quality in any area." "It has been proven, as in Southern California, that oil and tourist industries do not mix," Rogers said. "If the oil interests can subdue the Florida environmentalists and gain permission to exploit the Ocala forest, all other areas will be easily obtainable. And we will have sold out a Florida tourist industry which has been a phenomenal money tree." The coalition also warns that oil drilling would pierce or otherwise damage the Floridian Aquifer, chief source of north and central Florida water supplies. When Rogers broke the news of the oil leases, which he had accidentally obtained in a conversation with a well driller, Florida U.S. Forest supervisor Robert Entzminger defended the Ocala against oil i n d u s t r y e n c r o a c h m e n t . Shortly afterward, Entzminger was transferred to Utah. In the public outcry that followed, Interior Secretary Rogers Morton ordered a one-year moratorium on oil drilling in the Ocala pending environmental impact statements and a public hearing, which, had been required all along under the Environmental Policy Act. The hearing originally was scheduled for last March but has not yet been called. One Forest Service official predicted it would not be scheduled until after the November elections. "The administration is not going to let this come to a head during the campaign," he said. "The issue is too emotional." FRANK FINISON, who was transferred from Louisiana to take over Entzminger's post, quickly read the mood of Florida. In public meetings throughout the state, he sought citizen guidance in managing the forest for better use by people seeking escape in the wilderness from the congestion and pollution of the cities. Out of these sessions came a 10-year plan attacking all the old evils. "The big job " said Finison, "lies ahead." One big hurdle is the Navy, which has refused to abandon the range which jet planes bombard at times from daylight until nightfall, seven days a week. Recently, a fire started by a runaway missile left 1,700 acres of blackened tree skeletons. Finison said the Forest Service tried to stem the tide of land development in the forest but "we could get only what people wanted to sell and had to pay their inflated price. There is no authority for condemnation." Over 100 tracts are held by private parties under special "use permits," mostly on waterfronts, which were obtained years ago for a few dollars a year. To get this land back, the permit holder must be given ten years' notice, and no such notices have been given. So the overriding problem is too many people-private owners, squatters, armies of hunters, and poachers. "The Ocala can't stand them" Finison said. "To manage wildlife, you have got to manage people." DOC DAYS Final Clearance (ALL SALES FINAL) KNIT SPORT COATS OFF by MICKEY FREEMAN Were NOW 195. 130. Save 65. Were 175. NOW 117.... Save 58, by H. FREEMAN SON Were NOW 130. 87. Save 43. Were 120. NOW 80. ... Save 40, Were 85, NOW 56. . By P. B. M. Save 29. ^ TL. Save 25, Here's What We Have! OFF Special Group of SUITS · TROUSERS · HATS · SHIRTS .GIFTS -LUGGAGE WIDE FASHION TIES NOW3for6. ONQUARRIER

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