H.R.1969, "The Forestry Biodiversity Act"
dking at hermes
dking at chpc.utexas.edu
Tue Jan 28 18:02:20 EST 1992
I don't listen in much on this newsgroup, so I don't know if this will get
a sympathetic ear or not. I hope so. Forwarded message.
David L. King <dking at chpc.utexas.edu>
University of Texas System
Center for High Performance Computing
Sender: List Owner <davep%acsu.buffalo.edu at UICVM.UIC.EDU>
From: "Thomas Keays (Syracuse University)" <LIBHTK at SUVM.BITNET>
Subject: H.R.1969: Forest Biodiversity and Clearcutting Act
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To: Multiple recipients of list BIOSPH-L <UBVM!BIOSPH-L>
Last night (1/22/92), I received a call from Save America's Forests,
an environmental lobbying and activism group, informing me that Peter
Jennings had broadcast a news story earlier that evening which was
strongly critical of the U.S. Forest Service's handling of our
national forests. Unfortunately I did not see this news cast myself,
but in it, Jennings apparently blasted the USFS's management of old
growth forests, being especially critical of the practice of
wide-scale clearcutting on National Forests land. Jennings
specifically mentioned that, over the last twelve years, the USFS has
lost $12.5 billion through subsidizing the cutting of forests on
While I don't know the whole of what he said in the story, Jennings
expressed support for H.R.1969, "The Forestry Biodiversity and
Clearcutting Prohibition Act". Save America's Forests is urging that
as many people as possible should call their Congressman today,
expressing their outrage of this massive mismanagement of our
nation's forests, asking them to support H.R.1969. The phone number
for the House of Representatives is 202/255-3121. I would add that
sending a letter to your Congressperson would be an excellent
follow-up to your call. No corresponding bill has been introduced in
the house, so please also write or call your Senators asking them to
introduce this bill in the Senate.
If you feel like calling Peter Jennings' office, complementing him on
the story, that number is 212/887-3605.
Now, while I didn't see the broadcast itself, I do have quite a bit
of information on H.R.1969, itself, which I will briefly summarize.
In addition, Save America's Forests (SAF) has been lobbying for about
a year on behalf of this bill, and has put together a fairly decent
four-page fact sheet on it. If you would like a copy of this, I am
willing to mail them out. Contact me at htkeays at mailbox.syr.edu or
htkeays at rodan.bitnet. The address for Save America's Forests is 4
Library Court, SE, Washington, DC 20003. Their phone is
202/544-9219. They also have a fax number, 202/544-7462. Send them a
few bucks; they do good work.
Except for a few editorial digressions from me, the text that follows
is excerpted, fairly intact, from the SAF flier. I hope that I got
most of the typos, but I am getting this out quickly so people have
an opportunity to follow-up immediately.
Introduced on Earth Day, 1991 by Congressman John Bryant (D-TX),
H.R.1969 is the only bill in Congress that addresses federal forest
mismanagement on a national scale. (There is other legislation that
addresses clearcutting issues on specified sections of National
Forest land, but H.R.1969 is the only bill to protect all forests on
federal land.) H.R.1969 would ban clearcutting (even-age management)
and its variations (seed tree and shelterwood cutting and group
selection) on all federal lands nationwide, including National
Forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, National Wildlife Refuges,
Armed Services lands, and Indian Reservations. It identifies the
harms of clearcutting to wildlife, the pollution of clean water
supplies, impacts to our global climate, and the degradation of
It mandates the managing agencies to shift to the ecologically and
economically superior method of selection management, in which only
individual trees or small groups of trees would be removed as timber
at any one time. Logging would only be allowed to create small
openings in the forests, never destroying the forest canopy or
understory. The explicit aim of this new management mandate is to
conserve and restore native biological diversity, the full range of
naturally occurring species, from microorganisms to predators.
The main technique used by the USFS and other agencies in their
attack on the natural forests has been clearcutting and its
associated practices of roadbuilding, slashburning, site preparation
and poison chemical use. Since the Forest Service adopted even-age
logging as the primary method about 20 years ago, the best federal
forest timberlands have been wiped out, mangled by clearcutting. The
irony is that the Federal government is paying over 2 billion dollars
per year to the Forest Service and other agencies to administer this
destruction of our National Forests and other federal forests. This
is a 2 billion dollar loss to the taxpayers each year.
The small revenues from federal timber sales never recompensates the
taxpayers for the enormous costs involved in subsidized logging, road
building ($10,000 or more per mile), the heavy machinery to clearcut,
the expensive site preparation methods, the expensive hand
replanting, and finally the enormous Forest Service and other agency
timber-related overhead costs in the administrative bureaucracies.
After clearcutting, the Forest Service subjects the site to
preparation for replanting tree seedlings. Individual living trees
which were not wanted for lumber, and which were left standing, are
killed by various methods to "clean up" the site. These include
bulldozing woody debris and vegetation into large slash piles, which
are then burned, creating tremendous air pollution and wiping out the
gene bank for natural regeneration of the site. Many times one or
more applications of herbicides are applied to kill all remaining
vegetation. Sometimes individual living trees are injected with
poison to kill them.
In their place, the Forest Service replant them with stands of
genetically cloned tree seedlings. The result is not a natural
forest, but a tree plantation. These mono-culture tree farms are
very dependent on human management for survival as they are
vulnerable to insect pests and disease. These stands, because there
is no moist underbrush, are very dry and susceptible to intensely
hot, catastrophic fires. Trees are managed in this way, not to
restore a healthy, natural forest, but because they are being raised
as a future "crop", with the premise that someday the entire stand
will be clearcut "harvested" again. Animals, driven off or outright
killed during the clearcutting process, are unable to repopulate
monoculture tree farms.
In addition, many times, replantings are complete failures. Repeated
attempts to replant seedlings in some clearcut areas fail every time.
Formerly healthy forests are now barren. Clearcutting causes massive
soil erosion and demineralization, making it impossible for a large,
healthy forest to grow on many sites ever again, with a final result
of desertification. Massive erosion results with topsoil being
washed into streams, clogging them with silt, and killing all the
aquatic life, from microorganisms to large fish.
The destruction to fisheries and outdoor recreation causes tremendous
economic losses and unemployment in those and related industries.
Subsidized federal timber sales to large timber companies destroys
the ability of small woodlot owners to manage their own timberland
economically or ecologically. Workers must suffer the ravages of
boom and bust cycles of unemployment.
The only beneficiaries of the federal timber program are the few
timber companies and lumber mills who are taking the cream of
America's public forests at bargain prices.
H.R.1969 advocates selection management over clearcutting. Only
individual or small groups of trees are harvested at periodic
intervals. (A digression: SAF suggests that these intervals could be
as little as ten years, but I, personally, don't see how old growth
forests, where individual trees are often hundreds of years old,
could sustain this sort of continual, frequent harvest.) The forest
is able to naturally reseed itself without human labor. High quality
timber is available from the same stand on a perpetual basis.
Employment is stable over the long run and more jobs are assured.
Soil integrity and fertility are insured since it is less disturbed
initially and has natural mechanisms available to replenish itself.
Timber companies all over America practice selection management on
their own land. They know selection management is good financial
management. It is money in the bank, with guaranteed income on
continuous timber sales for decades ahead, and all this with lower
capital costs than even-age logging. (Again I digress: it is
impossible for me to imagine any profit-motivated company that could
successfully manage old-growth stands; the harvest intervals would
have to be much longer for old growth forests where the average tree
age is measured in hundreds of years rather than decades, as it would
be for commercial woodlots. It seems that economic incentives would
encourage too-frequent harvests. Do others agree with this? This is
my own gut reaction at work here.)
Spread the word and be sure to call your Congressperson, write your
Senators, newspapers, and, if you feel like it, give Peter Jennings
some positive feedback. Media support on this scale is rare.
-- Tom Keays Bitnet: LIBHTK at SUVM
Internet: LIBHTK at SUVM.ACS.SYR.EDU
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