How much wood

A. Melon juicy at
Sat Dec 30 03:52:00 EST 2000

HFrom The Wall Street Journal, pg. A1, Vol. CXLI, No.61 September 27, 1999

Synopsis of Article

The battle over industrial logging has moved from the Northwest to the Southeast
as a result of the federal government drastically slowing timber harvesting due
to its enforcement of strong ecological policies in the early 90's. In the
Northwest, the federal government could control cutting because it owned much of
the land. This is not the case in the South.
As a consequence, big forest-products companies have scrambled to tap the
nation's last big timber supply relatively unfettered by government control. In
the South, 85% of timber land is in private hands and mostly unregulated.
Loggers are not required to check for endangered species or even notify most
Southern states before cutting. The end result is clear cutting of large tracts
of land and reforesting the felled slow-growing hardwoods in fast growing pine.
Pine is more profitable to timber owners.
The impetus for the ecological change taking place in the South is chip mills.
These relatively low- cost plants process more than 3,000 acres of hardwood
trees and use more than 250,000 tons of water a year to process the chips. Since
the fall-off in timber from the Northwest, the number of mills operating in
13-states of the region has tripled to 156. The rising demand for wood chips
from Latin America and Asia has only encouraged more mills and cutting.
The assault on the land has created controversy and bad feelings in local
communities. On the one hand critics of the logging practices, made-up of
tourism executives and local officials, say mills promote clear-cutting,
trashing local landscapes and harming wildlife. On the other hand, many small
landowners appreciate a new market for their small, low-quality trees. All sides
agree, however, that since the mid-1990's, logging rates exceed 3.4 billion
cubic feet of hardwood removed annually while about 4.78 billion feet grew. The
rate of logging has increased since the last assessment.
The only thing certain is that the timberlands of the Southeast are changing in
a vast ecological experiment. The key to this change, as opposed to the
Northwest, is that government is exerting little or no control over how the land
is managed. Only time will reveal the end result.

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