Little Alfie Timber Sale

mcready at northernnet.com mcready at northernnet.com
Wed Jan 7 13:22:28 EST 1998


On Dec. 28 I visited the Little Alfie timber site near Orr, MN.  About
30-40 Earth First! and Earth Protectors were protesting the cut.  Many
did not know the facts about the cut, and were more concerned about the
cost of the sale rather than in the trees.

The Little Alfie timber sale is now again on hold.  An injunction hearing
is set for January 21, and Earth Protectors, Inc. headed by Leslie Davis,
are seeking to have the timber sale stopped all together.  They oppose
all cutting on public lands.

There are over 63,000 acres of white pine and over 105,000 acres of red
pines in Minnesota.  These numbers do not including the acres of the
Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park.

The Little Alfie area contains about 10,000 mature pines -- 8,000 reds
and 2,000 whites.  Cusson Camp Co. owned by Tony Vukelich had originally
been granted permission to cut 6,000 red pines and 400 white pines.  As a
result of Earth First! and Earth Protectors protesting, the Forest
Service conducted a field assessment and eliminated the 400 white pines
to be cut.  Vukelich accepted the reduction, but the environmentalists
did not.

The Little Alfie site had been thinned a decade ago and the area is now
covered with five to six foot high white pines under the canopy of tall
red pines. According to district foresters, the red pines had been
thinned already and the remaining red pine don’t rank high as potential
old-growth trees.  The decision by the Forest Service to allow the scaled
down cut doesn’t satisfy the environmental groups.

Another complaint that threatens the future of cutting on public lands is
the concern for below cost timber sales.  The Wilderness Society claims
the 104 U.S. National Forests cost taxpayers $204 million in 1996.  The
U.S. Forest Service figures show an estimated $14 million loss.  Other
environmental groups claim the Forest Service can make more money off the
forest with recreation.

Objecting to below cost timber sales, no matter which figures are used,
is besides the point.  The U.S. Forest Service was created to manage the
forest, not to make money.  If the judge rules in favor of Earth First!
and Earth Protectors and grants a restraining order on the Little Alfie
timber harvest, it will set a precedent for all timber harvesting on
public lands, especially national forests.

Should this happen, we may as well eliminate the U.S. Forest Service. 
They will serve no purpose if they are prevented from doing what they
have been entrusted to do - managing the forest.

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