Logging on our National Forests

Don Baccus dhogaza at pacifier.com
Tue Nov 11 13:49:13 EST 1997

In article <MPG.ed11990972aae219897a0 at news.cloudnet.com>,
Darren J. Young <dyoung at mcwi.com> wrote:
>In article <34674440.0 at news.pacifier.com>, dhogaza at pacifier.com says...

>> How can a government agency do a good job when it routinely breaks the law,
>> as the USFS has done?

>They can't which is exactly why most things that are done by the 
>government end up turning all cow shit.  It's not just the USFS.

Despite its problems, though, the USFS has managed its lands for conservation
goals *much* better than private timberland owners, on average.

Don't fall into the libertarian trap of believing that since conservationists
bitch at the fact that the USFS doesn't due as good a job at this as they're
charged with by law, that private owners do better.  This notion is easy to
disprove with a quick walk on the ground in the PNW.

>> If you believe that we should accept routine lawbreaking by federal
>> agencies as a way of life, God help America.

>Accept it or not, it's a fact.

And they should be stopped whenever possible, which is what conservationists
due in regard to the USFS.  In defense of the USFS, it should be noted that
the majority of this abuse comes from Congressional pressure to meet revenue
goals they set in full knowledge that they can't be met if the law is followed.

>> He means poorly managed from the conservation point of view.  The fact
>> that conservation is not part of a corporation's mission leads them to
>> more intensly manage their forests for wood products.  Which is the way
>> it should be.  Federal agencies

>I don't know what you are saying here.  What's the way it should be, more 
>intensely managed forests or more conservation?  As well, looks like you 
>lost your train of thought on the "Federal agencies" sentence.

Private timber lands, very properly IMO, focus on timber production (the
more enlightened ones, I should say - as has been pointed out by others
in this thread, others cut 'n run).  Federal agencies are mandated by law
to manage timber lands for multiple values, of which timber production is
just one, so one expects less timber to be produced per unit of land
from National Forests.  This, too, is as it should be.  The cut in
the PNW - the most productive region of our National Forests - has
diminished from 12 BBF to 4 BBF in the last decade, an end to harvest
would result in the loss of this 4 BBF compared to the earlier 8 BBF
reduction.  Predictions of economic disaster if the harvest on National
Forests aren't based on facts.

Personally, I don't support zero cut on National Forests, as I've stated
earlier, because we needn't do so in order to meet conservation needs *if*
the USFS is allowed to manage their forests according to the law without
Congressional meddling.  The argument for a zero cut is really a political
one - as long as there's a cut, we'll end up with political rather than
scientific management of our forests.  For instance, Larry Craig's floating
a bill to end Multiple Use, making timber harvest *the* primary purpose of
our National Forests, in an effort to end the NFMA mandate to preserve
our biological heritage throughout the National Forest system (the bill
would replace the NFMA).  From the political point of view, "zero cut" is
easy to understand, and transgressions easy to identify, and apparently
enjoys a great deal of support in public polls (ironically, probably higher
support within the public at large than within the conservation community!)

I've not given up - yet - on our ability to win a more subtle victory, i.e.
a USFS that finally is asked to obey, rather than subvert, the existing,
well-thought-out laws governing the Forests.  Though I'm no big Clinton
fan, I will have to admit he's done a much better job with the USFS than
his predecessors.

However, when bills like Craig's are welcomed enthusiastically by a fairly
large segment of the House and Senate, I can understand the appeal of
"zero cut" legislation.  Such a law would end the games.  I suspect at some
point I'll end up sighing heavily, and supporting a zero cut option, out of
a sense of resignation.  In this respect, the timber industry continues to
be its own worst enemy.  They can't seem to hold back when they have the
power hand in Congress, and seem to forget that the political pendulum will
swing back (indeed, conservative Republicans have pushed that pendulum back
themselves in regard to many environmental issues after watching the electorate
react in horror to some of their attempts to screw things up) and that the
bitterness caused by such gems as the "Salvage" Logging bill of a couple of
years ago will not be forgotten.

If they weren't so greedy and so damned short-sighted, the "zero cut" option
would never have hit the table (it actually is a direct reaction to the
Salvage Logging bill mentioned above).

>> now that production is slowly increasing?  And, long before tripling occurs
>> (at least, tripling due to material costs as opposed to tripling due to
>> other reasons) it will be economical to replace wood frame construction with
>> steel stud construction, as currently is done in many jurisdictions for commercial
>> building (for fire reasons).

>Except for the simple fact that Muskie just posted an article against a 
>proposed sedimentation pond for a iron mine in the UP.  That's my whole 
>point.  You make on person (or group) happy and you'll end up stepping on 
>the toes of others even if it's the intention.  All this dancing around 
>inevitably make people end up saying "the hell with it, I'll do what I 
>want" which is unfortunate.

I could care diddly about Muskie, we're talking national politics here.

>> If you made sense, it wouldn't be quite so dreadful, would it?

>Well if you start applying your thoughts and situations (OR/WA area) into 
>the comments I made about the UP (northern WI/MI area) of course they 
>won't make sense because the situations are not at all similar which is 
>ultimately why this bill (as well as most things the government touches) 
>will have it's desired effect.  There's exists no "fix all" solution yet 
>people keep trying to make them.

The comments I make can be generalized to the National Forest system at
large.  For instance, the Salvage Logging bill caused National Forests
in the midwest, some which hadn't seen logging for decades (and, lacking
logging, are probably partly responsible for the amazing numbers of
people who apparently believed in the 1980s, at least, that logging was
*already* banned on National Forests), to be opened for harvest.  This
side-effect wasn't even anticipated by conservationists.  It is in part
responsible for backlash against the industry in areas of the country
where you might least expect it.

- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at pacifier.com>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, at http://donb.photo.net

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