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Why the Forest Service logs our National Forests

June 3, 2010

This is a re-posting of a great article done in 2006 concerning the Forest Service and the Globe Timber Sale. As of last year the Grandfather District Ranger is no longer Joy Malone, but John Crockett.

Response to Joy Malones Guest Editorial
High Country News, Boone, North Carolina
December 21, 2006

Christopher Joyell, Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project Campaign Coordinator

“While reading District Ranger Joy Malone’s Guest Editorial last week (Dec. 14), I was reminded of another work of fiction-George Orwell’s novel, 1984. In his classic novel, Orwell introduced us to the concept of “newspeak,” where up is down, black is white, and 2+2=5.

The aim of the fictional language was to control thought and squelch debate simply by removing words from our vocabulary. Taking a page from Orwell, the Forest Service claims that logging projects like the Globe are no longer conducted to generate timber; they are carried out to create wildlife habitat, namely logged-over habitat for a select suite of game species. It just so happens that the project is also funded by the sale of our trees to the timber industry.

For almost a century, the agency made no secret of one of its chief priorities-to provide lumber to the timber industry. It would be foolish to try to conceal this goal, especially when the man who currently heads up the Forest Service, Mark Ray, previously collected a paycheck as a timber industry lobbyist. Regardless of your opinion about logging on public lands, at least the agency was honest about its intent.

But now that has changed, probably because the Forest Service realizes that people value clean water, clean air and recreation above timber production on our
public lands. The Forest Service continues to cut our forests, only now they are marketing it as wildlife habitat creation.

Our public lands have suffered from over a century of agency mismanagement. Clear cuts and unrestrained road building have altered our forests to such an extent that the Forest Service sees no other option but to continue its heavy-handed management practices. Yet, by destroying mature forests we have diminished the potential for the creation of the natural openings that form when trees die and fall, thereby creating “early successional habitat.”

No one will deny the inherent benefits of a mixed age forest with diverse structure and composition. The Forest Service can create the desired “early successional habitat” simply by reentering the 20-year old clear cuts that are overgrown, filled with invasives, and provide nominal habitat benefits, and thin them, burn them, or mow them. But they instead elect to go into mature forests to create these openings. Why?

The answer to this question gets to the root of why the Forest Service logs our National Forests. The answer is timber, plain and simple. If you look past their cleverly disguised wildlife arguments or spend time reviewing their proposals, it is clear that their motivation is the timber industry’s motivation.

Of course, Ranger Malone indulges in some half-truths in her guest editorial. For example, she wrote that the agency is “adding 311 acres .of old growth habitat,” without disclosing that much of that “habitat” doesn’t actually contain old growth trees.

Those areas are designated as “future” old growth, but many of those acres have been logged recently. One area, for example, was logged only 12 years ago, meaning that it will be “old growth” only after we and our children are dead and gone (unless, of course, the Forest Service chooses to log it before then). Yet the agency shows no hesitancy in cutting down existing old growth, trees that stood before our nation’s founding. Some would call this, at best, misleading.

But these are minor deviations from the truth when held against the stated purpose of this project. The fact remains that the timber industry will profit from the removal of our trees in the Globe Forest. And they will profit off our backs, because it is taxpayers like you and me who foot the bill for these logging projects.

Maybe deer, turkey, and grouse will benefit from this project in the short-term. Then again, maybe not. The Forest Service has no idea, because it doesn’t monitor for wildlife on post-logged sites. It’s in the timber business, not the wildlife business, after all. But in this age of “newspeak,” up is down, black is white, and logging is good for wildlife.

It’s time the Forest Service stops building roads and starts building trust. The Globe Forest provides ancient views, clean air, clean water, solitude, and a sense of place that should never be destroyed because it is these things that make our nation great. The promise of a bright future for our children is far more important than the promise of an easy buck.”

Since the re-posting of this article Chris Joyell would like it to be publicly known that he is in no way associated with Earth First! or this website.

One Comment leave one →
  1. monika coleman permalink
    August 7, 2010 8:28 pm

    I contacted the forest service, because I wanted to know why they are not using previously cut areas for establishing habitat for turkeys, etc. The answer was it would cost too much to clear and they would not be able to sell the trees because the trees are of no value at that age.

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