Healthy Southern Forests
Ian St. John
istjohn at noemail.ca
Fri Feb 20 13:51:23 EST 2004
"Larry Harrell" <lhfotoware at hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:7a90c754.0402200652.162a9e6d at posting.google.com...
> February 15, 2004
> Healthy Forests Initiative: Does it protect our national forests?
> Larry, restoring the logging industry and opening access to the last
remaining old growth..
> never resting until the last timber is hacked down and no more easy money
**trees bigger than three to four inches in diameter do not pose a threat**
Bush's logging plan values the forest for its trees (BARF Alert)
Daily Texan (UT Austin) ^ | 9/5/02 | Kena Piña
AUSTIN, Texas -- The best way to rid the world of the AIDS epidemic is to
quarantine and kill those infected by it. Most people would agree that this
statement is not only false, but extremely misanthropic and merciless. In
the same way, the idea that cutting down old growth trees in national parks
in the name of fire prevention should be seen as absurd as the previous
statement. This gross misjudgment is exactly what President Bush is
currently trying to feed the American public.
Most of the nation, as well as the world, is presently coming to terms with
the destructiveness of wildfires. About 190 million acres of U.S. land have
already been torched by uncontrollable blazes. Although this pales in
comparison to fire-related sylvan losses in the rest of the world, it is a
very serious problem, particularly because the fires continue to come
perilously close to people's homes. As has been proven hundreds of times in
the past, when a mass of people feel threatened, they will look for a quick
solution to their feelings of impotence. Again, as history has shown, this
has led to colossal disasters. In the face of the destruction of property
and the potential loss of life, President George W. Bush has offered a
delightful option: cut down trees in nationally protected parks and build
roads through them to slow fire from spreading.
While this "solution" might be hailed for its speed and decisiveness, it is
unimaginably ill-conceived. According to the U.S. Forest Service's chief
fires specialist Denny Thursdale, trees bigger than three to four inches in
diameter do not pose a threat. What causes wildfires to spread so quickly
through an area is the overgrowth of underbrush and saplings. Of course
these do not hold any commercial worth to the timber industry, which has
eyed the western United States for its huge expanses of mature, old growth
trees. The irony is that this forest "thinning" plan is aimed at temperate
forests - mostly in national parks - while 80 percent of the wildfires have
raged on non-federal owned chaparral and grasslands which are mostly devoid
of timber interests.
Recently Bush visited Oregon and experienced its "war" against wildfires
first hand. Apart from the belligerence that comes with insisting that
everything is a war, he called for a relaxation of the red tape that is
wrapped around requests to log the last tracts of unspoiled land. This
completely ignores Clinton's monumental decision to protect the vulnerable
national parks from New Hampshire to California on Jan. 5 of last year. From
the date that this was passed, timber industry lobbies in Congress have
worked to overturn the decision. With the toll wildfires have taken and
Bush's unabashed gung-ho attitude, they needn't work too hard.
The Forest Service's expert Jack Cohen recently published studies that
confirm the best way to protect American families is to reduce the
flammability of their homes. A disastrous example to look at would be the
Fort Valley timber sale on the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona.
The project was designed to remove flammable undergrowth. However, like all
commercial logging projects, it focused on removing mature trees more than
five feet in diameter. This eliminated the forest canopy, resulting in the
removal of hundreds of habitats including that of the goshawks, an
already-imperiled species of hawk. In addition to this, logging mature trees
not only ignores the true root of the problem, but leaves behind extremely
flammable material such as dry twigs and branches in its wake.
Just as President Bush restricted individual rights and ignored social
issues in the name of the war against terror, he is now relaxing
environmental laws in the name of the war against fire. This blatant abuse
of the American's public support cannot be denied. With the events that
pulled the nation together a year ago, come a very important responsibility
that only American citizens themselves can carry out: To monitor potential
abuses of power, be they by foreign antagonists or domestic. Only in this
way can we hope to avoid possible disaster.
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