Coastal Forestry Issues

sitka at citytel.net sitka at citytel.net
Sun Jan 25 20:01:09 EST 1998


Hello Mike.

The winter weather has been fine here in Prince Rupert.  The usual array
of steady rain & wind followed by a bit of snow when the arctic outflows
set up and then back to rain & wind.  The trick is to make the best of it
and even try to enjoy it.  A regular dose of fishing and the odd scuba
dive help make it all seem quite normal.

As for your primary information sources (a la the Vancouver based CBC
TV), they are all the same in that they are in generally wholly
unreliable for objective analyses of forestry issues much less anything
else.  Much of the print and TV media in these parts are simply in the
business of selling advertisement spots to the highest bidder.	The more
inflamed and attention grabbing the content, the higher the premium they
can charge for the spots.  A cynical but well seasoned perspective from
my end.  I'm sure its no different elsewhere.

Your general impressions are not far off however they do require a bit of
refinement:  the historic government policy for many years has been "what
was good for industry was good for BC".  In other words, with a primarily
resource based economy it made sense for government to develop policies
which attracted big capital and aided the forest industry and others as
much as possible.  In an overly simplistic sense, as our provincial
economy has now "grown up" and diversified on the back of the forest
industry and our greatly diminished old growth timber its now time for a
painful transition.

As a forester I'm certainly sad to see the industry needlessly waning.
However, with major capital as flighty as it is its going to naturally
flow to where returns can be maximized.  With BCs current forest tenure
system, our draconian Forest Practices Code and shifting public attitude
which is generally ignorant of the science of forestry and more heavily
biased towards aesthetics, emotion and pseudo-science (re: eco-quackery)
I'm afraid we will have to settle for something less than optimal.  My
concern is that I'll someday end up like some of the displaced foresters
I met at Forest Service Offices in Washington, Oregon and California
States when I toured through there back in 1996.  I don't consider
handing our tour maps and chatting about smokey the bear to be a highly
attractive means of making a living for an operational forester.

Given our unstable working forest which is under regular attack from non-
complementary land uses and our current forest tenure system its no
wonder that companies are reluctant to invest more heavily in anything
other than basic silviculture.	Although I'm no growth & yield guru I
heard it posited from experienced foresters than BC could easily support
an annual allowable cut in the order of 100,000,000 m3/year or more (up
from our current +/- 70,000,000 m3/yr) if we were to invest more heavily
and in a sustained fashion in intensive silviculture.

Out of curiosity, what was Washington State BSO (before spotted owl) cut
and ASO (after spotted owl) cut?

Cheers.

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