grassroots forestry

Mark Whitaker Mark.Whitaker at
Sat Jul 16 04:38:00 EST 1994

Sunday, July 3, 1994

I just finished reading an article in the Sunday Oregonian about Quincy, 
California, and a related article about the Applegate watershed in southern 
Oregon. In both these areas, apparently, environmentalists, timber industry 
reps and local citizens have managed to come to at least a limited level of
understanding, and in some cases have even managed to work out guidelines for
a sustainable forestry. In quincy, this consensus group has excluded Federal
agencies from the process, believing that the USFS is a large part of the 
problem, and solutions will be impeded by the FS. The problem seems to be 
that even though these traditional "enemies" have started to work together, 
the real estate in question belongs to the government, who is unwilling to 
fund the recovery plans that these groups have come up with. It would seem 
that in situations like this, where progress is being made amongst the local
interests, the next step might be the use of land trusts and similar tools to
obtain control of the FS land in question, and start working towards 
restoration and a sustainable forestry system. how would something like this
work?? Legal manuvers?? Or maybe just a grassroots locally organized 
"seizure" of some kind?? It seems that as long as the entrenched FS 
bureaucracy and other federal foot draggers are involved, we are doomed to 
stand by and watch while the problems become worse and these fragile 
coalitions between timber industry interests, environmentalists and local 
citizens gradually disintegrate. 
                In the book "Tree Talk" by Ray Raphael, he discusses a model 
for sustainable forestry called "landed forestry". The central aspect of this
model is based on local control of a particular forest resource, and the 
integration of fisheries, wildlife, recreation, and lumber production under
the same locally controlled management system. The forester(s) live(s) on the
land in question, and are connected to it on a daily basis for many years at
a time. This contrasts sharply with the current model of forestry in which the
foresters are deliberately transferred from place to place so that their 
loyalty is to the institution (USFS) rather than the land itself. it seems 
that the concept of landed forestry is at least worth a try; it has been  
practiced successfully in Switzerland for many years. In places like quincy 
and applegate, where local people are actually becoming educated and active 
and are working together towards a solution, it would seem logical, if not 
essential, that these kinds of local efforts be given some control of their 
own local land. 
                Of course I must offer the usual disclaimer that I do realize 
that this system is probably not perfect, nor is it the end-all solution to 
all the resource problems that we face. Any system is abusable, but if the 
alternative is to continue on the worn out path that we are on, then I would 
certainly think that it is time to try something new. The government and many 
of the mega-corporations are going to be interested only in preserving the 
staus-quo, and I tend to think that any plans coming from these institutions
are going to do just that. "change" to these institutions means only a change
of appearance, not content. If we can't at least try to trust local people to
make sound decisions about their local resources, then maybe we truly are 

Comments?? Tirades? I would love to hear from anyone actually involved with
these two areas, or other similar processes. All I have in the way of info is
these two articles..

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