Where should we have drawn the line?

D. Staples dstaples at livingston.net
Fri Jun 16 17:04:14 EST 2000

Piney Woods Journal, June 2000

Forester asks, Where should we have drawn the line?

Where Should We Have Drawn The Line?

 By:  Harry Wiant,          Past President, Society of American

It was my pleasure to be one of the speakers on a panel at the recent
Winter Meeting of the Allegheny SAF in Titusville, PA.  Kathe Frank
(USFS) spoke first, giving a wonderful talk on "Dealing with
Preservationists” and Kenny Kane (Forest Consultant) following me with a
challenging message, "Can We Pull it Off" The topic I was "assigned" was
"Where Do We Draw the Line?", which I quickly changed (see above)
probably to the surprise of no one.

If  you'll excuse a bit of W.W.II terminology, we were driven off the
forestry beachhead long ago when we gave up defending clearcutting, one
of our most valuable tools.  Numerous studies by USFS, university, and
private investigators demonstrated the appropriateness of clearcutting,
even in our Appalachian hardwoods.  Why have these publications
ceased?   Has the ecology of our species and stands changed?  Of course
not! The sad truth is that our research and science is hostage to

Our retreat became a rout when our professional society and leaders
accepted with silence the appointment of non-foresters as Chiefs of the
USDA Forest Service.  Not reflecting on the individuals, who may be most
honorable, it's a territorial testimony to our ineffectiveness (or
political cowardliness) to fail to protest in the strongest terms when
non-foresters heard our largest forestry organization.  We have stood by
while the Forest Service, once the finest  in the federal bureaucracy,
destroyed and now marches arm-in-arm with the Sierra Club.

Our ragtag troops raised the white flag when we gave ecosystem
management credence, even though we have no idea what it means or how to
do it.  It is all too plain what is has done to management on our
national forest.  Now some foresters pretend we really need third party
certification, a few will probably accept the ludicrous notion of
returning much of our forest land to some arbitrary pre settlement
condition, and well known leaders in our profession try to convince us
that so-called
environmentalists are our friends.  It they are our friends, pray tell
what would an enemy look like?

There is little chance that forest industry will find the will and the
way to produce the continuous and expensive TV ads I promoted strongly,
a move so necessary for their own survival.  Surely they will at least
take the advice a forester gave years ago and print Product of Our
Renewable Forest on every roll of toilet paper, every piece of plywood,
everywhere it can remind consumers that someone must produce.  That is
an almost no-cost strategy which would slowly educate our propagandized

Many of our once proud army have accepted the rhetoric of the enemy,
many have left the profession in hopeless surrender, but thankfully a
few "real foresters" still stand their ground.  Can we regroup and move
forward again?  The tattered flag of SAF flutters weakly in the breeze,
and with a strong voice, it could still serve to rally our forces.
Truth and science are powerful weapons.  As I said in my campaign
statement years ago, we may not win, but we can  go down knowing we
fought the good fight.  There are worse things than fighting and losing
for a just cause.  And, we might just win, but to be brutally realistic,
it will take a miracle.

The door to my web page:  http://www.livingston.net/dstaples/
For forestry commentary see bionet.agroforestry and alt.forestry news
groups, as well as http://www.delphi.com/ab-forestry/ for a continuing
conversation on forestry.

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