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On Sensible Forest Management
An Essay by Dave

The Prez is coming!


To Seattle, that is. 


And the local barking moonbats are gearing up for the temper tantrum to beat all temper tantrums.  Banners are being unfurled, riots (oops, I mean protests) are being planned as we speak, and just about every left-wing group is being assembled for this trip.  In short, the typical political spectrum up here in the Puget Sound.  But what really gets to me is when the moonbats start screaming about Bush's environmental track record.  This whole "Bush is raping the earth" schtick is pretty old, especially when viewed with the eye of someone who actually deals with the impact of all the regulations and rules that the Environmentalist movement pushes for.


I grew up in what can be called "the country".  Acres and acres of trees, streams, open land, the works.  I have literally spent years walking through the forests that environmentalists claim to be protecting.  I have walked them, worked on them, pulled firewood from them, and experienced them first hand, which is something that many of the so-called environmentalists can't claim.  In fact, despite the many claims that come out of the eco-movement, most of their "information" is nothing but hype, sound bites, exaggeration, and smokescreens.  When one of the (1) founding members of Greenpeace gives an interview in New Science magazine and states "The environmental movement abandoned science and logic somewhere in the mid-1980s", you know you have problems.  HUGE problems, folks.  And if you take a good hard look at the state of our national forests, you'll see just how huge a problem this really is.


Now, our national forests have too many species of trees to go over.  So we'll go with two of the highest population trees.  (2) Ponderosa Pine, and (3) Douglas Fir.

Go into any forest in the northwest, and you'll see stands of these trees.  Normally, they would co-exist in a cycle.  Ponderosa Pines are shade intolerant; they need direct sunlight in order to sprout and grow.  Douglas firs are shade tolerant; they can grow quite well in the middle of a crowded forest.  In a normal cycle, fire would clear out large spaces of forest, allowing the Ponderosa to grow, and the Douglas fir would come in later, after the Ponderosa had been well established.  Thanks to the eco-movement, this cycle has been interrupted, with disastrous results.  The first part of the cycle that has been stopped?  Fire.


Forest fires have been fought tooth and nail for over a century, but they are (4) part and parcel to a forest's life.  In recent years, the US government has slowly adopted a "let it burn" practice which has been applauded by some environmental groups, but in some cases that is not practical, due to homes, other property, or the habitat of the (insert protected species here) being threatened.  And to top it all off, years of mismanagement under more and more oppressive eco-regime regulations have produced a literal tinderbox, waiting for a spark.  In every forest there is a (5) fuel ladder, material that can spread fire into the crowns of trees.  In national forests, the (6) eco-movement has blocked sale after sale of beetle-killed timber or fire-scorched timber, delaying the logging until the wood was no longer commercially viable.  This allows the spread of pine beetles to other areas, with the end result of acres and acres of dead trees.  Those trees are a firestorm waiting to happen.  And by stopping the salvage of insect infested trees, you're exacerbating the problem.  (7) Once you actually notice a beetle damaged tree, it's too late.  That tree is going to die.  There are two main options for controlling beetles:  burn the tree or cut it down and strip off the bark.  It's not fun, and it may not be pretty, but it will save your forest.  A five acre clear-cut can recover much more quickly than a five hundred acre stretch of dead trees..  But thanks to the eco-movement, whole stands of beetle killed trees have been allowed to stand, causing beetle infestations all over the country.  Just Google "pine beetle" and see what comes up.  And the ultimate irony is that logging companies, having been blocked from salvaging dead lumber off of public property, now have to (8) log living healthy trees on private land in order to stay alive.  


So fire hasn't been allowed in many areas, logging hasn't been allowed, and dead trees are blocked from salvage logging by the eco-movement.  In short, you have the perfect recipe for forest killing fires.  The fuel ladder is in place, there are dead trees full of pitch standing like giant matchsticks, and the undergrowth is ready to go.  One lightning strike, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.  Several fires in Oregon and Colorado burned so hot that they sterilized the soil.  Many of the forests in Yellowstone National Park are (9) still bare after the 1988 fires.  When a fire burns that hot, it kills the burrowing animals and (10) beneficial microbes and insects that inhabit the soil.  In effect, it creates a dead zone that will last for years to come.  Many of these burns can be attributed to the eco-movement's policies in national lands.


So, fire has been prevented from doing its thing.  But the other big chunk missing from the cycle is logging.  Logging can replace fire in terms of removing dead wood and undergrowth, thus breaking the fuel ladder.  A long clear-cut one-quarter to one-half an acre wide can and will stop a forest fire from spreading, as well as giving younger trees a chance to grow.  A one square acre clear-cut can remove dead, dying, and infested trees, and prevent a forest from becoming stagnate (single species, or single age range). But logging has been stopped, blocked, and prevented by the eco-movement.  One of the reasons for the establishment of national forests was to (11) ensure that this country would have a renewable supply of timber.  This has been shot down in practice by the eco-movement, at every opportunity, and we have huge tracts of land sitting unused. 


The eco-movement would love for the USA to end all logging in the national forests.  But there's a problem with that.  We haven't stopped using lumber, or wood products.  So where are we getting it from?  Houses are still being built, newspapers are still being printed, so trees are still being used in this country.  Who's cutting down trees?

(12)Canada and (13)Russia, that's who.  And the damage done to the forests in those countries boggles the mind.  Tundra and Taiga forests don't grow very quickly, due to climate, soil condition, and other variables.  But they're being clearcut to satisfy demand for wood around the world, including here at home.  It's the ultimate irony.  While the relatively quick growing Fir and Pine forests in the USA are sitting unused, the slow growing, old growth forests are being wiped out in other parts of the world.  While the eco-movement blocks sale after sale in the very forests designated to provide a renewable source of timber, our demand for wood is causing the destruction of arboreal forests in Canada and Siberia.  The logging hasn't stopped, it's just moved elsewhere, in places not as able to replenish or renew itself as our forests are.  Instead of controlled logging in a national forest, it's a wood-chopping free for all in areas out of our control.  And as our forests sit unused, the rest of the world makes up for the difference.  US mills are shut down, US jobs are lost, US forests are mismanaged to the point of catastrophic wildfires and insect infestations, but golly gee, the environmentalists have triumphed over those evil logging companies!  Congratulations, Eco-people! 


And the worst part of it all, is that the eco-movement doesn't deal with the consequences.  They live in their nice wooden urban homes, reading their magazines or books or newspapers, and print banners on cardboard so that they can scream at President Bush, all the while never giving a lick of thought as to where all that paper and wood comes from, while the people who live in the areas most effected can do nothing but sit and watch as our national forests go to waste.  There are huge tracts of trees in the Wenatchee National Forest that are dead.  While my girlfriend and I were on our motorcycle trip, she estimated that one out of every four trees in that forest was dead and brown.  I can show you stretches of trees in Idaho that are dead, just standing there, going to rot, spreading insects and disease, waiting for a spark or lightning strike to set them ablaze.  In short, it's a monumental waste of our natural resources.  A study on salvage logging beetle-killed trees from the U of Idaho admits that Northwest forests are (14) overstocked with trees, a condition which increases the spread of insects and disease.  And yet the eco-movement, too blinded by it's own ideology, doesn't care.  They have their rallies, and then go to their homes in and around big cities, while small towns watch their lumber mills close.  They pass out their paper pamphlets and curse the president, while rural residents watch stands of trees die.  They talk about "protecting the earth" from the safety and comfort of their homes, while the people who actually live in the effected areas are blocked from doing anything productive.


So what's the point of all of this?  We can no longer allow the eco-movement to continue dictating how our forests are used.  We are creating a mess of our national forests, and simply moving the logging out of country.  We need sane forest management, not extremist policy.  We need to take back the land that environmentalists want to place out of reach.  Until we make our voices heard, our forests will continue going to waste.

Let's take back our land, and return sanity to our forests.