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Re: E-M:/ Clearcuts Redux

Dear Dave,

You are absolutely correct.  Clearcutting is quite necessary when the "management goal" is to maximize profit and board feet of timber (in the short-term anyway) or to foster the growth of a desired tree species.  It is the "management objectives" on public lands which cater to industry rather than the health and ecological integrity of the forest that is really what is in question here.

Commercial clearcutting (in which I include shelterwood and seed tree cuts) does NOT mimic ANY natural disturbance. Nowhere in nature do elements such as fire and windstorm knock down and REMOVE all trees from the forest floor.  80% of elemental nutrients of a tree is in the bole of that tree.  To remove ALL trees, or the majority of trees (even if leaving branches and stumps behind) greatly depletes soil nutrients, regeneration success, AND habitat for many species. Yes there are animal species that DO benefit from clearcuts.  And if your "management objective" is to provide more feeding habitat for deer..., well again, this is a questionable objective given the overabundance of these beautiful but collectively destructive creatures (from a biological diversity standpoint).  But if you want to protect and enhance populations of species that are threatened and endangered (which should be a PRIMARY objective of public lands management), then we must work on a regional scale to preserve very large tracts of land that are hands-off to commercial loggging--creating large contiguous forests that allows for "natural disturbance regimes" with perhaps some initial "noncommercial" cutting for true restoration purposes based on sound science.  And where cut vegetation is not REMOVED from the forest ecosystem.

This is not to say that I am against logging and society's use wood products.  That would be silly.  I DO recognize that we can do a lot more to reduce demand for wood fiber through waste reduction and alternative paper fiber/building materials.  I also think that we, as an activists community should come together to create a proactive vision for MI that involves establishing large core wilderness reserves (Ottawa National Forest as a core, for example) and linking together such areas with wilderness corridors (using state/county parks and forests and private conservancy lands).  Again, a reserve with no commercial logging and where natural disturbance regimes can be allowed to take place/evolution to proceed with minimal human manipulation. (And of course, this in conjunction with comprehensive waste/demand reduction and rural economic diversity programs for a holistic approach to forest protection.)

.......Then we can bicker about what management tools are best for private working forest management objectives..... ; )

Karen Tuerk

Smethurst wrote:

 Gross overgeneralizations like, "Clearcuts are always bad", is not accepted by "everyone" one the list.  Clearcuts, done correctly, in appropriate places, to meet management goals, can be a legitimate tool in forest management.  Dave Smethurst