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E-M:/ Other troubling FACTOIDS in Forest Articles



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Enviro-Mich message from "Tom & Anne Woiwode" <woiwode@voyager.net>
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Thanks to Dave Z. and Dave A. on this discussion.  I have always wondered 
about the multiplier of 7 that is used for the timber industry effect in a
community, and am interested to see it disputed.

Another "factoid" that shows up in the AP articles is the claim that there
is 2 million acres of public forest land in Michigan that is effectively off
limits to logging (out of 6.5 million).  This claim has been made for years,
citing a "study" done by Mich. Association of Timbermen, if I recall
correctly.  A few years ago Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition members
asked for documentation of this "factoid", and though they were assured the
information would be provided they never did get the documentation.  If
someone out there has the details behind this claim, I would really like to
see it.

First, the claim cited by MAT in the AP story refers, evidently, to National
and State parklands as well.  However the number of acres given is in fact a
little less than the total number of public forest acres in Michigan (6.6 -
6.7 million), so the parks probably weren't added in, or shouldn't have
been. However, a few years ago there was serious talk in the legislature
about logging in state parks.  Somehow, that seems like an idiotic notion no
matter how you look at it.  Parks are not set aside to serve the same range
of demands as public forests are, and I find it rather amazing that the
timber industry have seriously eyed parklands in our state to whack trees
for a profit.

Second, on public forests in Michigan there is a multiple use mandate.
Multiple use means that many activities take place across the 2.7 million
acres of National Forest and 4 million acres of State Forest lands, but
obviously all those uses CANNOT occur on every acre.  There is about 90,000
acres of wilderness on our National Forests in Michigan -- out of 2.7
million acres.  These are by law off-limits to timber cutting.  There are
also Research Natural Areas which may well be off limits to timber cutting
for ecological and research reasons.  Cutting may occur in these areas, but
is unlikely to.  Sorry, don't have the number of acres of RNAs.  The State
has some areas on State Forests designated under the Wilderness and Natural
Areas Act as well, though many areas have been in limbo for years for a
variety of reasons.

National Forests have also calculated lands which they label Unsuited for
Timber Production in the plans of the three forests.  I would guess this
goes into the pot being counted as not open to logging. The problem with
this is that these lands are made up of many categories of Forest Service
lands, including lakes and rivers, lands which have been clearcut so
recently that no cutting is possible in the planning period, and lands which
are identified in the planning period as not needed for timber management
because of lack of demand or for other reasons.  I hope these weren't
counted in because that is an outrageous misinterpretation of the category.

The National Forests are also currently considering designation of old
growth areas on their lands -- as I recall approx. 175,000 on the Huron
Manistee, 53,000 on the Hiawatha and I don't recall what the Ottawa has.
These lands serve several aspects of multiple uses of the forest, and it is
likely that old growth will be laid over some existing areas that are
already protected (like Wild and Scenic River corridors protected by
Congress).  Erring on the side of excess, lets say that 300,000 acres of old
growth will be designated by the National Forests someday.  The State Forest
old growth process is still, after 8 years, in internal review processes
within the DNR so we don't have a clue what or where the old growth might be
on those lands yet. But the agency has limits on set asides on the State
Forest system as a whole to less than 10% of the forests, so the MAXIMUM
possible lands off limits to logging on State Forests is about 400,000
acres.

Now it is possible that the MAT estimates include the lands that are part of
best management practices set backs from water ways (to protect water
quality) or the trees in campgrounds in the forests.  It may be that they
also have included the acreage from the close to 10,000 miles of forest
roads on the three National Forests in Michigan, and who knows how many
miles of roads on the State Forests.  Maybe they get to 2 million acres that
way.  So then the question has to be, what exactly is WRONG with saying that
somewhere less than 1/3 of the PUBLIC's forests, the forests owned not only
by loggers and timber companies but by anglers and hunters, hikers and
canoists, cross country skiers and berry pickers, and even by people who
simply benefit from the clean water and air the forests produce for us when
they are left healthy and intact, what is WRONG with saying that MAYBE these
lands might serve a higher function than providing for the single use of
logging?

Maybe these forests can provide for multiple uses, including logging,
without diminishing the values that we as a state and society need these
forests to provide.  That's the kind of decision that ought to be made by
the owners of those lands in an open and informed way.  Instead the timber
industry, and MAT in particular, has succeeded in getting a mandated timber
marking levels on the State Forests for the past three years stuck into the
DNR Budget and has applied political force to try to get the National
Forests to sell more timber, even when the industry didn't end up buying all
the wood that was put up for sale recently.

Maybe a more important question of the timber industry, if they are so eager
to force the public to put the maximum amount of public forest into the
timber base, is why didn't they hang onto the land when it was their's?
Most of the public land in Michigan was acquired through tax reversions, and
much of what was bought came from the timber industry.  While I am grateful
that these lands are in public hands, and support the acquisition of
additional forest lands whereever possible, think about what has happened
here.  If you owned forest land and took out all the valuable timber at the
turn of the century, then sold it to unsuspecting immigrants or settlers as
productive farm land, you basically mined the land of its wood and sold the
empty mine to someone else.  When that land failed to produce crops after a
couple of years, it wasn't your fault, of course, that the farm family lost
the land to tax debts.

The land went into public hands and was rehabilitated, either through
replanting or being allowed to regrow over decades at public taxpayer's
expense.  Now, decades after creating "the lands nobody wanted" by
effectively walking away from them, timber companies are coming back to the
Federal and State Government and claiming that the government has an
obligation to put this taxpayer nurtured restored forest up for them to bid
on and cut for personal profit.  Whether their own memories are that short,
or if this type of cynical scheme is intentional, it seems exceedingly
disingenuous for the timber interests to complain that those who have paid
for and invested in these public lands for decades might well decide that a
portion of them have a better use than to be simply returned to the timber
industry which abandoned them so long ago.

Anne Woiwode

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tom, Anne, Nate and Pete Woiwode
5088 Powell Road
Okemos, MI 48864


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