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E-M:/ End Commercial Logging

Enviro-Mich message from Mike Boyce <birder@voyager.net>

While the "debate" about commercial Logging seems greatest in states
other than Michigan, we have our share of this exploitive corporate
welfare here to.  I like the way John Osborn spells it out for us below. 

Mike Boyce
Resident Manager, Baker Sanctuary

            Spokesman Review--Guest Column "Time to End Commercial
Logging in
            the National Forests"
            Leavenworth Audubon Adopt-a-Forest
      Guest Column:     Spokesman-Review  August 28, 1997

Time to End Commercial Logging in the National Forests

by John Osborn, M.D.  

For over 15 years citizens in our region have worked within the  laws
and through public processes to end damaging logging operations on
federal forests.  Our experience?  Laws interfering with getting out
"the cut" are flaunted, suspended, or gutted.  Corporate plunder has
replaced law and order on our National Forests. 

When Teddy Roosevelt established millions of acres of National Forests,
he did so to keep these forests out of the hands of timber syndicates. 
There was debate from the beginning about how best to protect and
preserve these forests.  Central to this debate has always been the
question:  Is commercial logging consistent with the mission of
America's federal forests?  

The debate is often personified by two great Americans, John Muir and
Gifford Pinchot.  John Muir, the farm boy and naturalist who founded the
Sierra Club, advocated that the National Forests should remain forever
wild, to ensure that Americans always have clean rivers and lakes,
wildlife, and forests.  Pinchot, a forester-politician trained in
Europe, believed that the National Forests could be preserved through
uses that included logging -- so long as logging was scientifically
sound and showed profit.   

Today, the dreams of both Muir and Pinchot lie in the ditches next to
the costly 380,000 miles of logging roads bulldozed into the National
Forest System.   Their dreams are buried in the millions of tons of
sediment that choke the spawning beds of our vanishing native trout and
salmon.   Logging roads and clearcuts, corporate plunder and huge costs
to taxpayers have transformed the National Forests from a unique
American dream to a nightmare.

Follow the money:  Congress funds the Forest Service...  the Forest
Service delivers taxpayer-subsidized federal timber to the
corporations...  the corporations "donate" to the re-election campaigns
of the politicians who fund the Forest Service.  Get the picture? 

As the General Accounting Office pointed out in 1995, the timber program
for 1992-1994 cost the taxpayers $1 billion more than receipts.  In
1996, the condition was even worse:  losses exceeded $400 million, not
including damage to flooded homes, ruined hunting and fishing, and other
forest values.

Upstream from Spokane and Coeur d'Alene is the Coeur d'Alene National
Forest, the most heavily damaged of America's 156 National Forests.  The
Coeur d'Alene has 8,000 miles of logging roads  -- averaging 10 miles of
logging road per square mile of forest, (in some places exceeding 20 and
even 30 road miles per square mile). The North Fork, once among the
region's most popular fishing streams, is demolished from clearcuts and
roads.  Its floodwaters carry something "special":  lead -- millions of
pounds of lead -- into Lake Coeur d'Alene, the Spokane River and the
lives of the 500,000 people who live here.  Estimated costs for
restoring the North Fork:  $100 million and up.

The Kootenai National Forest, in the extreme northwest corner of
Montana, is another poster child.  While logging the 4th of July and
Arbo timber sales, the Forest Service "found" an extra 12 million board
feet of logs (about 5,000 board feet fit on a loaded logging truck) for
the timber companies that bought the sale.  When the timber companies
violated the government contract by logging streamsides and trees from
outside the sale boundaries, the Forest Service virtually looked the
other way.  

The Kootenai National Forest is being massively clearcut.  Demolished. 
Plundered. Remember the flooding in downtown Chewelah and the sandbags
along Highway 395?  Look upstream.  First, Plum Creek hammered headwater
streams around Chewelah.  Now, the Forest Service is logging another 40
million board feet, building and rebuilding 177 miles of roads.  Expect
more floods.

The Forest Service will soon celebrate the Lewis and Clark bicentennial
by massively clearcutting near the historic trail on the Clearwater
National Forest.  Above the Lochsa River -- remaining refuge to wild
trout, salmon and steelhead -- the federal agency is planning a 63
million board foot sale.  This, despite hundreds of mudslides in 1995,
1996, and 1997 that devastated the Clearwater National Forest.

Parents immediately know when they return home to find the baby-sitter
abusing their child that it's time to take action.  For the National
Forest, it's time to end commercial logging and put people to work
restoring the damage.  


[John Osborn is founder of the Inland Empire Public Lands Council.]

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