zero cut on the Allegheny

Kirk Johnson newkirk at
Sun Jun 14 16:01:30 EST 1998

> Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 8, 1998.
> Allegheny Forest shouldn't be used for profit, they say
> by Don Hopey (Post-Gazette Staff Writer)
> Zero Cut, the national campaign to end logging in national forests, has
> finally taken root in the sylvan state of Penns Woods.
> After almost a decade knocking around the nation from the Midwest to the
> Pacific Northwest, it pushed its way into the state and the Allegheny
> National Forest offices in downtown Warren, Warren County, in the form of
> four Earth First! activists late last month.
> The activists, all residents of New York state and linked together with
> steel tubes and a bicycle lock, staged a peaceful sit-in to protest an
> Allegheny National Forest timber sale that is the biggest east of the
> Mississippi River.
> As they were arrested and carried out by police and firefighters, a dozen
> protesters picketed the building and distributed leaflets denouncing the
> 10,000-acre East Side Project timber sale and promoting the Zero Cut
> campaign.
> "I love the Allegheny and want to see it remain intact," said one of the
> arrested protestors, Mike Kruse, 21, last week at a benefit concert at
> Rosebud in the Strip District.
> "The Allegheny, because of its prized hardwoods, especially the black
> cherry, is the biggest timber moneymaker of any of our national forests.
> If we can stop logging there, we can stop it everywhere."
> It is not a new idea, ending timbering on public lands.  Heartwood, a
> national environmental group based in Indiana, formed around the principal
> of ending logging in the 155 national forest eight years ago.
> In 1996, Sierra Club members voted by a 2-1 ratio for such a ban, and
> forest activists from many different groups called for an end to cutting in
> public forests at a rally in Burntside Lake, Minn., last September.
> Also last year, a bipartisan bill, the National Forest Protection and
> Restoration Act, was introduced in Congress to end timbering on public
> lands and provide assistance for forest communities dependent on the timber
> industry.
> The arrests in Warren put a Pennsylvania exclamation point on the almost
> decade-old national campaign.  Recently, the Clarion, Clarion County-based
> Allegheny Defense Project has filed lawsuits to block the sale of timber
> from national forests.
> "This is an idea whose time has come, and it's already happening," said
> Susan Curry, a Defense Project leader, pointing to sale-stopping litigation
> in Allegheny National Forest, Wayne National Forest in Ohio, the Shawnee in
> Illinois, the Daniel Boone in Kentucky and the Hoosier in Indiana.
> The efforts to stop the 40-acre plus clearcuts planned for the Allegheny
> provided a rallying point for the dozen forest-oriented environmental
> groups that sent representatives to Clarion last week for the national Zero
> Cut campaign's annual strategy meeting.
> "We've had good success with direct action, and lawsuits have stopped some
> timber sales," said Alison Cochran, national coordinator for Zero Cut,"but
> we need the ligislation to settle the issue."
> *  *  *
> The national forest program was established in 1891 by Congress in response
> to widespread environmental deterioration.  It set aside vast federal land
> holdings in the western United States as "forest reserves," to protect
> watersheds, wildlife and recreation.  No logging was permitted.
> But by 1897, under pressure from the timber industry, Congress opened the
> reserves to logging.  Over the years, especially after World War II, when
> private timber reserves in the Pacific Northwest were exhausted, the
> cutting increased.
> Federal law passed in 1960 requires the U.S. Forest Service to manage the
> nation's public forests for "multiple use."  That includes preserving
> wildlife, wildflower, old growth, migratory bird and endangered species
> habitat and promoting recreation, along with extracting resources such as
> timber, oil and natural gas.
> Lately, increased cutting proposals have run into expanding recreation
> needs and a growing environmental ethic, producing unprecedented conflicts
> over timbering, especially in forest communities that have come to rely on
> timbering jobs and timber tax subsidies.
> In those communities, there is widespread hostility, bitterness and tension
> about the role of "outsiders" in determining the economic future of the
> local economy.
> However, Samuel Hays, an environmental historian and member of the state's
> old growth forest committee, said other outsiders, namely the national and
> international timber and extractive industries, have long been influential
> in the local economies.
> "How do they think about the well-being of extractive communities as they
> move their investments around the globe?" Hays wrote in a recent forest
> essay.
> *  *  *
> Today, about 4 percent of the national's total annual timber consumption
> comes from national forest trees.  The federal government spent $1.3
> billion on public forest logging programs, including revenues amounted to
> only $535 million - a loss of $765 million.
> By the year 2000, according to a 1996 Forest Service report, recreation,
> hunting and fishing in national forests will contribute 31 times more to
> the nation's economy and 38 times the number of jobs than the existing
> timber sale program.
> According to the Forest Service, recreation is already the most significant
> industry in the Allegheny National Forest region, providing 1,600 jobs and
> creating economic benefits worth $16 million annually.
> One of the only national forests to make a consistent profit because of its
> high-priced hardwoods, the 510,000-acre Allegheny National Forest sprawls
> over Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren counties.
> Recent high tree mortality on more than 90,000 acres because of insect
> infestation and poor regeneration caused the Forest Service to increase
> timber sales in areas of high tree mortality.
> The Forest Service increased its salvage sales in the Allegheny 68.6
> percent from the fiscal 1995 to fiscal 1996.  Sale jumped eightfold between
> 1993 and 1996.
> The East Side Project combines several smaller timber sale proposals,
> including the Mortality II project, a 5,000-acre, scattered site salvage
> cut valued at more than $10 million.  That cut was halted in October by
> U.S. District Judge William Standish, who ruled that an environmental
> impact study had to be done before the sale proceeded.
> "The East Side Project is a prime example of why logging on our eastern
> national forests should stop," said Devin Scherubel, Heartwood program
> coordinator.  "Our small and scattered national forests have many greater
> values."
> Forest activists said the proposed tree cuts bordered and would adversely
> affect popular recreation areas, environmentally sensitive old growth tree
> stands and pristine streams.
> "Our position is that the public land is owned by the public and shouldn't
> be used for private profit," said Don Doherty, a member of the Sierra Club
> Allegheny Group executive committee.
> "The Forest Service spends a lot of public money subsidizing the raising
> and cutting of trees and then runs the program at a deficit," he said.
> "The timber companies are making money off the sales and the taxpayers
> shouldn't have to subsidize them."
> The Sierra Club is conducting a letter writing campaign to expand the list
> of 30 co-sponsors supporting the legislation.
> Even the most optimistic of the Zero Cut supporters agree it's going to
> take a while to generate action in a Republican-controlled Congress that
> has not distinguished itself as environmentally friendly.
> Executive action by President Clinton, similar to his order stopping 80
> percent of the cutting in national forests in Oregon, California and
> Washington, is a possibility, but activists aren't pinning their hopes on
> it.
> "We don't expect overnight success on this, but that has been the history
> of major environmental initiative in the past," Doherty said.  "They often
> take several years or longer, plus a lot of dedication by supporters, to
> gain congressional approval."

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