Preservationism on National Forests: Sustainable or not?

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at
Wed Aug 11 05:03:16 EST 2004

Larry Caldwell <larryc at> wrote in message news:<MPG.1b812f11116187b098b0a8 at>...
> In article <7a90c754.0408090146.58106052 at>, 
> lhfotoware at (Larry Harrell) says...
> > Saying that, I also have to say that we need a revolution in how logs
> > are sold off our National Forests. Some parts of the country have lost
> > all but one of their lumber mills and monopolies do exist. 
> What are you going to do about the parts of the country that have lost 
> all their lumber mills?  What are you going to do with the logs you thin 
> out of the San Bernardino?  

Most of those logs go to the Sierra Forest Products mill in Terra
Bella, about an hour north of Bakersfield and six hours north of the
San Bernardino, one way. Even after opening up more land to deck logs
on, they're totally plugged with logs. Don't forget that they're also
taking salvage logs off the McNally fire on the Sequoia National

Thinning on the San Bernardino is a lost cause. About 90% of all the
pines are dead.

People have been looking into loading up rail cars with logs. We're
also looking into selling logs on the foreign markets, negating a ban
against the export of raw logs.
> It's just about as bad in Oregon.  The only mills left are corporate 
> mills that have their own timber holdings.  Public policy has destroyed 
> all the small mills that might have provided some competition.  I have a 
> friend with a small timber tract just north of Brookings.  He is hauling 
> his logs to Coos Bay, because that is the nearest mill.

High fuel prices are making logs worth even less. With a glut of logs
flooding the mills, people will continue to be saying stop the cutting
of trees on public lands. I ask, what do we do with all that "excess"
timber that continues to grow, year after year, resulting in
overstocked and unhealthy stands?

That leads to another important philosophical question: Is
"preservationism" a sustainable activity in our National Forests? The
quick and easy answer: Yes and no. On a large scale, I'd have to say
no. Generally, our National Forests in the West are not "natural" and
need a helping hand to be restored back into a more "natural" state.
On a small scale, there are stands that can be left alone, or they
might not have any "excess" trees and can continue to evolve into more
complex ecosystem structures. Of course, this is ultra simplified.
"Healthy Forests" allow a variety of techniques to be used alone or in
combination with each other to produce forests that are more drought
resistant, bug resistant and fire resistant. Is that a good "nutshell"

I freely admit that there is quite a lot of potential to corrupt the
process, just to give the mills "corporate welfare", as the
"preservationists" claim. That is what the courts will have to decide.
However, the USFS does not want to go to court on ANY project, sapping
the limited budget we are stuck with. Again, I plead to the public.
Learn more about forestry and ecosystem sciences. Sort out the crap
and misinformation from both sides of the issue. Understand the
economics of forest management and make your voices be heard. Please
do it in that order, too. It is important to me that I be trusted in
my job and the USFS HAS lost that trust (rightfully so). Finally, if
we talk the talk, make us walk the walk. Give us the opportunity to
earn back that trust and to restore our National Forests.

Larry,     Healthy Forestry Technician

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