Tongass National Forest (justification for mass destruction)

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Sat Apr 26 13:38:10 EST 1997


In article <ifjed.4525.3355318A at nmsua.nmsu.edu>,
ifjed at nmsua.nmsu.edu (Jethro Bodine) wrote:

> >I've just returned from Ketchican where I was looking at used equipment 
> >from the recently closed pulp mill.  Why is this mill closed?  Why was the 
> >fibre resource withdrawn?  What stable non-seasonal employment will be
> >available in the town?  Does anyone other than Alaskans care about the 
> >human consequences of alienating this forest land?

Louisiana-Pacific's contract with the feds expired.  I don't know what the
current status of the mill is, but pulp prices worldwide are in the 
dumpster right now, and paper stocks are sky high.  That was the last
place in North America where old growth was being cut for pulp, and
the resource is just too rare to justify that sort of use any more.

In the absence of sustained yield management, timber will always be
a temporary job.  
 
> Fortunately some people do care about the consequences, i.e, the real 
> consequences.  Unsustainable clearcut logging on a massive scale and 
> destruction of the salmon runs is too high a price to pay (these are 
> just a few of the prices to be paid).  This isn't, by the way, one of those 
> Japanese-owned mills to which the Forest Service is literally giving away 
> our forest resources for a song, is it?

The only thing you said here that made any sense was "unsustainable."
Clearcutting is a management tool just like any other.  Selective harvest
has its own drawbacks in disease propagation, mechanical damage, and
genetic selection for the weakest trees.  Poorly done selective harvest
is referred to as "creaming," and is a dirty word among forest managers.

Federal timber cannot be exported before it is milled.  Ownership of any
of the public timber corporations is independent of their location.  Lots
of Louisiana Pacific stock is owned by Japanese, lots of Mitsubishi stock
is owned by Americans.  

Resources have the value that someone will pay for them.  Not so long ago,
people were chopping down old growth and burning it where it fell.  No
one ever considered replanting a logged over tract.  LP moved in and
provided a market for a resource nobody wanted.  

I don't know about salmon runs in the area, but know that Alaskan salmon
runs are the only ones that are still healthy.  The rivers in Alaska
haven't been dammed for hydro projects, so there is nothing keeping the
fish from reaching the headwaters.  If you really want to help the salmon
runs, stop using electricity and eating vegetables.  People don't want to
hear that, but it's really city streetlights that are killing off the
salmon, not loggers.

-- Larry




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