Fwd: Re: Results of Nationwide Survey on Forest Management

Co-Administrator Co-Administrator at forestnet.com
Tue Feb 14 12:38:31 EST 1995

At 5:03 AM 2/8/95, james f. palmer wrote:
>This is great!  I'd love to know more.
>I wonder if these questions (the jargon and the principles) were rally
>understood.  It sounds to me like the public supports forest _health_,
>whatever that is.  I wonder how they would answer a question asking whether
>dead or damaged trees that provide nesting or den cavities and food should
>be removed from public forests.

Consider the source of the survey for clues on why the questions were
worded the way they were!  American Forests used to be the American
Forestry Association.  Their board is composed of the captains of the
timber industry, and they recently changed their name in order to spruce up
the organization's image.

>Unless the question also included the National Park Service, I find this a
>suspicious result.  It has been my experience that 74% of the public does
>not know the difference between the US Forest Service and the National Park
>Service.  For that matter, a _very_ large portion of the students in our
>college do not know the difference.

That's true in most areas, except perhaps in timber-mill towns in the West.
The USFS conducted its own survey last year as part of its reinventing
government "exercise" and found that a substantial majority of respondents
opposed logging on public lands.  The agency tried to deep-six the survey,
but they had to publish it finally, so it was made an appendix to the
report and was not mailed out with the report to requestors.

>I would be very interested in what the public was thinking about the
>consequences of preventing fires versus letting them burn.  Do they believe
>that we can prevent _all_ fires?  Is there a limit to the resources in
>dollars and life that should be invested to prevent forest fires?  Do they
>differentiate among fighting fires (1) near settlements versus wilderness,
>(2) private versus public lands, (3) National Parks versus National
>Forests, (4) old growth versus managed regrowth?  What is the public's
>thinking about the wisdom of certain small losses with regular controlled
>buring versus an unknown risk of catastrophic loss with a total fire
>prevention policy?

This is a survey the environmental groups should have done years ago, along
with the bigger question of whether logging should occur at all on public
lands and, if so, how much.

>This is interesting, but I would like to know more.  In a 1988 survey of
>NY's Allegany State Park (which is managed), the question was asked whether
>or not respondents supported "controlled cutting of trees should be
>conducted to:
>                                                             Agree  Disagree
>   Improve hunting                                            20%      67%
>   Improve wildlife observation                               55%      24%
>   Improve bird watching                                      43%      30%
>   Improve trails                                             63%      18%
>   Improve scenic vistas                                      61%      21%
>   Provide firewood for park patrons                          32%      50%
>   Provide wood for facility rehabilitation in state parks    47%      33%
>   Generate money for state park purposes                     40%      41%
>   Generate money for other public purposes                   14%      72%
>Respondents were randomly sampled from an area within 60 miles or so of the
>park.  In this case it seemed that the public supports management if it
>helps wildlife or the park, but are not very interested in killing wildlife
>or trees for personal or corporate gain.

I have problems with even this sort of questioning approach.  This list
assumes (and conveys the assumption) that logging can accomplish all of the
goals on the list.  The issue then becomes whether the public likes the
idea or not.  But what if there is real disagreement on whether logging
could improve bird watching AT ALL?  The interviewee probably has little
information on which to base a critique of forest management and therefore
would likely be biased towards the idea by virtue of having the question

>> 14.  Which view is closer to yours?
>>     A.   Favor use of controlled fire by federal authorities to thin the
>>     forests so that wildfires are less damaging.................49%
>>     B.   Oppose practice (as stated above) because of the possibility
>>that the
>>     fire will spread, and because smoke from controlled fires causes air
>>     pollution....................................................42%
>It is unfortunate that the second answer is 'double barreled' -- we can't
>separate fire damage to the forest from air pollution back home.

Obviously, these statements are loaded with assumptions, and say lots about
what is NOT listed there, too.

>I should add that my comments are not intended to be critical in a negative
>sense.  I appreciate only too well the limitations and simplification
>necessary to implement a survey.  On the other hand, I think that a deeper
>probing of the public's view of how their national forests (and parks)
>should be care for is in order.


David Orr
dgorr at ucdavis.edu

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Date: 	Wed, 8 Feb 1995 14:38:51 -0800
To: zooey at mailbox.syr.edu (james f. palmer), forest at nic.funet.fi
From: dgorr at ucdavis.edu (David Orr * Waste Prevention & Recycling
Subject: Re: Results of Nationwide Survey on Forest Management

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