The Politics of Forestry- was- Re: State Forestry

Joseph Zorzin redoak at forestmeister.com
Thu Jan 1 09:34:17 EST 1998


Ron Wenrich wrote:

> The extension foresters have their hands tied.  It would be similar to a consultant
> marking a stand of timber, then giving the names of all the loggers and mills that
> may possibly be interested in cutting the timber, and walking away.  If the landowner
> is motivated, it works.  I don't know if it is the State's responsibility to motivate
> the landowner for the sake of a market sector (the consultant).  The State is in the
> business for landowner assistance, not forester marketing.
> 

Interesting.

This really brings up the whole subject of just what the roles are for
public and private foresters. It all comes down to politics; which has
everything to do with wealth and resources; who "owns" them; who
controls them; who works them; who benefits from them.

There is insufficient discussion of this obviously sensitive issue.
Instead there is way too much talk about mere technical issues of
forestry.

The RAW, FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM of forestry is this political issue, NOT
forestry technical concerns. I think much more UPFRONT discussion is
required. We're starting to get that here in this newsgroup, as much as
it hurts to talk about. This issue should NOT be repressed any longer.

And this is why I think it is unwise for us to vanish into side channels
of discussion; which may be more palatable, finding people of like mind,
but that's only an escape; a supression from dealing with this issue.

Which is also why I contually call for greater participation here by
those segements of our industry which don't show up- not so that I
hastle them- but so that an UPFRONT discussion of this FUNDAMENTAL issue
can finally rise from the subconscious.

Because there HASN'T been an honest discussion of this fundamental
problem, forestry in my opinion has FAILED in America.

Forestry on federal land is now reeling from setback after setback since
the USFS has aggressively resisted the environmental movements that have
arisen in the past few decades. A more sophisticated leadership could
have absorbed these movements.

Forestry on private land is also a failure in that the VAST majority of
private forest land is NOT managed.

Who is to blame for these failures? Our entire society is to blame. Our
nation has decided that our natural resources are NOT important, so
resources are not made available. Instead, we decided it was important
to go the moon, important to spend trillions to fight communism and
enriching the militray industrial complex in the process and we were
warned against this by no less than President Eisenhower; we invest
billions in sports facilities; we invest billions in building more
shopping centers; billions on cosmetics for vain women; billions on
handouts to tobacco farmers- I could go on all day.

But by comparison, we as a nation spend almost nothing on the arts, high
culture, and protecting our natural resources- the things I happen to be
interested it. Then you wonder why I sound pissed off.

A mere few million dollars a year are spent by the federal government in
subsidies to landowners for forestry work. And many states give lower
tax rates for practicising forestry. These actions help a lot. Without
them, there would be NO forestry in America. And don't anyone complain
about subsidies. EVERYONE is subsidized in modern complex economy,
depending on your political power. The distribution of wealth has very
little to do with talent, and everything to do with where you were born,
into what family, what breaks you got, what your skin color is, what
luck you got, AND what talent you were born with.

If we as a society wanted widespread good forestry we could do it, but
only with major changes to our laws and the means to finance forestry.
These are the CRITICAL issues of forestry and this is what I've been
yelling about for the past 24 years and the things people don't want to
talk about- either because they're insufficiently sophisticated due to
lousy forestry education, or because THEY already have a nice
comfortable job and they are fearful of rocking the boat- and so it goes
on, year after year- little honest discussion, little progress in
forestry.

The service forester jobs came into existance in most states several
decades ago when there were NO consultants. The service foresters
provided advice to landowners and helped them avoid the "cut and run"
logging outfits.

We now have forestry consultants and the service foresters are not
willing to REALLY adjust to their existance- they see the consultants as
carpetbaggers cutting in on THEIR turf. The service foresters have to
realize that there are NO service plumbers, service barbers and service
auto mechanics. The service forester job is an anachronism that goes
back to when there were NO consultants. Wake up and realize this! In my
state, service foresters continued to be "free" foresters for years
after consultants became as common as mosquitoes. And the consultants
started complaining and yes, I complained the loudest and most often and
they finally stoped. Not on their own accord. They didn't show any
wisdom, they had to have their arms twisted. Their jobs could have been
elimated as they served no purpose, but I didn't push for that - I
thought it would be just as well to let them morph into "overseers" of
the state tax program and the cutting practices act- AND to become
forestry missionaries. This would be a fine role for them.

However, they have emphasized the overseeing role instead of the
missionary role. This is extremely foolish and wastefull. There is less
oversite of nuclear reactors and toxic waste dumps in my state than
there is of forestry activities. It doesn't take a lot of sense to have
a 50 year old service forester "overseeing" a 50 year old consultant. By
doing so, the state is saying we are children- when what this proves is
that the state is acting like children, as they don't want to grow up
and find a more important role for themselves, the role of "forestry
missionaries".

Instead, the state puts on "training sessions" so that THEY can train we
dumb consultants on how to do our jobs, that we've been doing just fine
for decades. A tremendous amount of effort goes into this training
nonsense and almost NO effort goes into the missionary work which IS
TRULY NEEDED. Middle aged foresters (all of us) DON'T need training, not
that we know everything, but after working for decades, we certainly
know the essentials. What is NEEDED is a solution to the problem of why
most of the private forest land in Mass. is NOT managed at all.

The rare efforts of service forester in Massachusetts at missionary work
has been a TOTAL failure. They put on a little party for tree farmers or
possible tree farmers. They put something in the local paper. Guess who
shows up? The same genuine tree farmers who have showed up for the last
30 years. It's a nice little party. Everyone enjoys it. BUT IT SERVED NO
PURPOSE! No new landowners join the party. When I challenge the service
foresters about this issue- they can't even comprehend what I'm talking
about. Didn't everyone enjoy the party? Therefore, didn't I earn my
paycheck? NO YOU DIDN'T.

In my area, most landowners don't even live around here. The futile
effort of the state to put a little paragraph in the paper about their
little party is brainless- but do they listen to me? Of course not. Why
listen to anybody; they get their paychecks every week- their paycheck
has NOTHING to do with the growth of forestry.

I have explained to them over and over and over again; that they need to
build a database of all landowners AND reach out to these distant
landowners using newsletters and the internet. I've been saying this for
countless years and I know it's true because that's how I find all my
clients- and this is true of all consultants- none of us EVER get new
work as a result of the costly and fancy events put on by the state-
they are USELESS, but these folks NEVER LISTEN. They live in a dream
world, isolated from reality.

And bringing this full circle to your statement- "I don't know if it is
the State's responsibility to motivate the landowner for the sake of a
market sector (the consultant)." But OF COURSE IT IS. The objective is
to get land under good forest management. And who DOES the forest
management if not consultants?

Now, I realize that in many states, this evolution of roles is more
advanced than in my state. Congratulations! But in my state, progress is
dismal at best. They really do believe in a childlike manner that their
role is OVERSEEING consultants; not facilitating MORE forestry- which is
what we all want.

In my state, forester licensing finally made it through the legislature
a few years ago, and it's STILL not implemented. A draft of the
implementation rules has been passed around, and I can see that the
licensing is going to be a huge DISASTER, poorly thought out, and doing
nothing for forestry, foresters, landowners or the land itself; but
primarily it will benefit the bureaucracy because now licensed foresters
will have to GET TRAINED SOME MORE! That's the gist of this law- that we
are incompetent and need more training. This is what our LEADERSHIP
brings us. I see nothing on the horizon that shows that the leadership
or legislature is even dimly aware that the TRUE PROBLEM OF FORESTRY IS
THAT THERE ISN'T ENOUGH OF IT; which would result in the retraining of
service foresters into FORESTRY MISSIONAIRES.

Along with the development of FORESTRY MISSIONAIRES we, as a society,
have to invest more money into this business. If we can invest billions
into more nuclear bombs, more shopping centers, more tobacco subsidies,
we sure the hell can find more money for more and better forestry- but
this subject is VEBOTEN in polite society- and the basic problem will
continue for another hundred years.

Der Forestmeister



More information about the Ag-forst mailing list