Michael Hagen mhagen at
Mon Dec 8 13:47:39 EST 1997

Several years back a friend who does features for the Oregonian came up
here (north Olympic pen.) to write the final story on the rape of the
forest, the incompetent forest service and the dreaded Owl. This was
shortly after Wm. Dietrich's book 'the Final Forest' came out. We went
out to the west end to talk to some of the same folks that were in the
book and look at the several spots he had heard about which were
especially devastated. 

As it happens there are several 250+ acre clearcuts near Sappho, WA on
US101. These were (in 1994) the fresh, bombstruck,debris piled,nothing
left but broom handles and poster children of the Wilderness Society PR
campaign.  I mean, one of them was the poster in our office. Now
admittedly, I've laid out CCs beyond count and some were big, but they
weren't on a major tourist route. We had some smarts. To a jaded
unreformed timber beast they weren't even that bad. The ground was flat.
No erosion. The area was already replanted. In ten years you wouldn't be
able to see across the unit. Bad points : the clearing was too big to
pick up much natural seed and would be a fire hazard during east winds.

Its been a while but the action went something like this...

My reporter buddy is excited and starts taking pictures. God this is
terrible, what the heck were they thinking...  I mention that the USFS
land is on the ridge, way up there...and about 60% covered with trees by
the look of it. Whose was this we were on? State of Washington DNR and
the former Crown Zellerbach. But the state does not clearcut, he had
heard. That's new, I said, since the Olympic Experimental Forest was
formed. These are adjacent five acre small sales, which are by
definition not clearcuts since they left the broom handles. (This was
pretty early in "New Forestry.") 

Oh, he says. Not forest service. Nope. Those are way up the watershed.
Since the Feds locked up the owl circles and incidentaly included big
areas of high watershed State land, the State cut had to be moved to the
lowlands. The lowlands were all previously cut, mostly during the '30s
so they weren't considered owl habitat. But that's where the roads and
tourists were. Bad PR. And this was happening in a dozen spots in the
Puget lowlands. Almost 100% state and private.

Hmmm, he says, so how many guys got work out of this?  Not nearly as
many as used to, since one outfit got most of these small sales and used
a shovel (a hydraulic excavator with thumb). That let them underbid
everyone else. I'd say, probably two. Rather than ten, which would have
had work if they used a tower. So 8 woods crew got laid off for every
shovel still working. Give or take the few who had the money to buy new

Times have changed again and owl circles have been dropped. Now private
landowners and the state slip out of the preservation mode whenever
there is federal land nearby to save "for the owls." Small private
owners were never locked up and cut all they could especially those with
land adjacent to the National Park. Now, most places we look, we can see
forever...  Tourists to the Olympic are in a constant state of anger and

I suppose we should be thankful that so few ever vote? And that trees
grow, no matter what we do.

Mike H. 

Joseph Zorzin wrote:
> TREES4WOOD wrote:
> >
> > >In National Forests, creating massive clearcuts highly visible next to
> > >major roads is *%@)*%|* brain dead. If the clearcuts were smaller and
> > >hidden away, the tourists wouldn't have minded as they're too lazy and
> > >fearfull of getting more than 100' from their oversized sport utility
> > >vehicles.
> >
> > I believe that it is irresponsible for well trained foresters to hide their
> > work from the public.  That only leads the public to believe that we have
> > something to hide which in turn leads them to believe that we are doing
> > something wrong.  I think that if we put our management activities out in the
> > open and in clear view we can explain the reasons for performing that
> > management strategy.  Simple roadside signs can be used to explain what is
> > happening and why it is being done.  This makes foresters proactive and gives
> > us a chance to inform the public immediately as opposed to waiting to respond
> > to their reactions after they have had a chance to hear from the
> > anti-clearcutting segment of society.
> It's not a question of hiding the work, but not blowing people's eyes
> out with massive multi thousand acre horrific clearcuts visible for many
> miles that is not uncommon in some places.
> >
> > I have performed thinning and clearcutting directly adjacent to roads.  This
> > allows the public to see what is going on as well as allowing us to clean up
> > the logging residue following harvest.  There are many people who prefer the
> > aged fallen timber for firewood instead of having to fall their own trees.  It
> > also allows us to use the firewood harvesting public to "clean up" our clear
> > cutting areas.
> Around here you'd be breaking the law- the cutting practices act in
> Massachusetts specificially says you must have roadside buffers. Let's
> face it, logging, even when well done is ugly as hell. It's a matter of
> being discreet.
> And allowing the public in to clean up wouldn't be wise on private
> property for legal reasons.
> --
> -------
> "The only forestry web page in the otherwise sophisticated state of
> Massachusetts"
> "Earth's only online forestry journal containing essays from the cutting
> edge- no pun intended"

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