"Clearcuts better than alternativesNobody likes the sight of timberland that is clearcut, but allowing this particular forest practice is one of the best ways to preserve our treasured rural character.Each clearcut prompts an understandable outcry from immediate neighbors or the community at large, depending on its size or visibility. However, as long as the land is reforested, we really shouldn't complain.The latest public uproar was caused by a 40-acre clearcut above Fox Spit last month. But the property was promptly re-planted with young fir trees, and plans are to let them grow for the next 40 years. Each year, the property will improve in appearance until it looks like all the other former clearcuts that are now attractive open spaces. They're all over South Whidbey, but some of the best examples are along Coles Road and Lone Lake Road.If it were possible to pass a law banning clearcutting, owners of forested tracts would be foolish to keep the land under forest management. It's the only proven way to sustain forestry in this area. Instead, they would break it up into five acre parcels or smaller.At Fox Spit, the clearcut scene today, ugly as it is, is preferable to the construction of eight or more houses on the site, each occupied by people with two or more cars who are prone to driving too fast, burning firewood, using vast quantities of groundwater, and crowding our schools with more kids.Next time you drive by a clearcut, try to imagine what's not there. It'll may you feel better until the trees grow back.Children finally enjoy a snow dayIt's been a long few years for South Whidbey elementary school kids. In their short careers as public school students, they had never experienced the joy of having schools closed due to snowfall. That oversight was corrected early Friday morning when a wet blanket of snow descended to a depth of several inches, forcing school closures throughout the region.It has been four years since we've had a real snowfall. That's kindergarten, first, second and third grades for the younger set. And that's far too long. Children should annually experience the magic of snow closing school for a day or two. Reading, writing and arithmetic are replaced by sledding, snowball fights and snowman construction. Freedom and fun arrive unexpectedly, and are all the more free and fun because of it. There's nothing like snow to remind adults how fun it is to be a kid, and to make adults act like kids again as they join in the snow games.It's too bad we can't order a snowstorm at least once a year. Kids deserve it. Let's hope it won't be another four years until the next one. "

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