PROPAGANDA OF SIMPLE ANSWERS
truffler1635 at my-deja.com
truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Wed Oct 6 11:11:40 EST 1999
The following editorial ran in The Oregonian Oct. 5, 1999, p E11
PROPAGANDA OF SIMPLE ANSWERS, by Robert landauer
For every complex problem, writer H.L. Mencken once said, there is a
simple answer -- and it's invariably wrong.
His critique applies perfectly to zealots who try to lock up control
of Oregon forests by putting simplistic initiatives on the ballot. Th
election campaigns bypass legislative and resource-agency efforts to
make management fit thousands of different loca l conditions and to
produce a healthy balance of fish, wildlife, timber and economic values.
Ballot Measure 64 las year was that kind of end run. It would have
banned most timber harvest methods and use of chemical herbicides and
pesticides. Fortunately, a successful counter-campaign taught voters
that measure 64 would have harmed many wildlife species and increased
the risks from insects, disease and disastrous wildfire.
An initiative expected this monthy from several environmental groups
will likely be another resource grab. Its announced goal is to phase
oiut logging in the Tillamook and Clatsop state forests, eventually
turning more than 800 square miles of multiple-use forests into parks
stocked with old-age timber.
Claims and counterclaims ricochet across the state as timberland
initiatives appear on the ballot. So Oregonians need to become forestry-
literate to untangle fact from propaganda and figure oiut who is
informing them and who is manipulating them.
An honest broker of the latest scientific information about forest
practices is the Oregon Forest Resrouces Institute. The 1991 Legislature
created the institute "to educate landowners and the public aboiut how
oregon's forests can be managed to sustain communities and protect the
Among its important findings:
- Growth rates exceed the total cut in oregon by a wide margin
mostly because federal timberland has been removed from harvest access.
Harvests on state, local government and industrial forests are about
equal to current growth rates and appear to be sustainable over the long
- Current oregon forest practices pose no immediate threats to
nonfish wildlife, assuming that the federal forests continue to provide
much of the mature habitat older than 100 years.
- The harvest method, whether clearcutting or selective cutting, is
less important to habitat quality than how much is left behind. Pinning
down the threashold amounts, sizes and distribution of live trees,
snags, downed logs and woody debris to be left on the ground and in
streams must be a priority research aim.
- Ending logging won't stop landslides that silt up spawning beds.
Slides are more apt to happen in recent clear-cuts on very steep slopes.
But thousands of slides occur in mature forests more than 100 years old.
Second-growth less than 100 yeas old had the lowest incidence of slides
in rain-drenched Oregon Forests in 1996.
- Improved location, engineering, drainage systems, landscaping and
maintenance of forest roads have greatly reduced the landslides and
erosion associated with forest roads built in the 1960s and 1970s.
- Cut-and-run is not an option under the Oregon Forest Practices
Act. trees must be replanted within two years and within six years must
be certified as "free to grow" -- taller than competing undercover.
- Not guilty! Local streamflow increases near clear-cuts during
storms, but neighter this harvest method nor forest roads have much
effect on downstream flooding that causes property damage.
- More than 400 nonfish vertebrate species inhabit Oregon forests.
They have evolved under widely varying cycles of growth, decline and
regeneration and in relationship with different species, ages and
densities of vegetation. Fewer plant and animal species would be alive
today if old growth had replaced nature's forest mosaic.
This suggests that forest managers also should produce a wide range
of forest structures, unless reliable research points out a better way.
For answers to hundreds of other questions, visit the Oregon Forest
Resources Institute electronically at www.oregonforests.org, along with
its links to many other Web sites.
Robert Landauer, editorial columnist, can be reached at 503-221-8157, or
1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 or
robertlandauer at news.oregonian.com
COMMENT BY POSTER: After reading and re-reading this editorial, I
believe it was aptly named. The Oregon Forests Resources Institute is an
industry controlled organization: only industry-associated board members
Pointedly missing at the site was any discussion of mycorrhizal fungi,
required for tree growth, and suspected of being successional as
individual trees grow. The economic potential of these fungi is not
discussed at all, even though matsutake reached $750/lb on Oct. 12, 1993
and native truffles may reach $500/lb this year (to say nothing about
boletes, chanterelles, hedgehogs, dead man's foot, puffballs, Lactarii,
Suillus, Rhizopogons, Ganoderma and a truly diverse group of thousands
of other fungi). Ignoring these fungi shows the ignorance of the
industry: without mycorrhizae, trees are unlikely to survive their first
year after sprouting, according to Dr. James Trappe of Oregon State
The forest "industry" has not proven it can grow most of the 3,000
mycorrhizal fungi known to exist with Douglas fir alone. It has
therefore not demonstrated the ability to reforest. Such claims of
"replanting" and "reforestation" have not been proven. The burden of
proof therefore lies on the forest industry to show they _are_ growing
trees, not just planting trees and hoping nature succeeds in doing the
Daniel B. Wheeler
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