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Webbed Feet. West Coast Native Tree ID.

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The Grass Roots

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This logging commentary was found on the WALL (Witness Against Lawless Logging) list

[....the whole enterprise is predicated on maximizing the productivity of these so-called "matrix" forest lands where they feel not that many people go anyway.
To the Maxi-Foresters, if a tree falls in the distant forest and nobody hears it, it is a Failed Resource Extraction.

It is only possible because of pedal-to-the-metal forestry.

The timber industry and Forest Service['s] own euphemism for their energetic approach [to]'productive' forests is "conversion" from "unproductive, decadent stands" (old growth) to a denser population of faster growing young trees, rotating on a 80 to 120 year cycle of "even-age" management (to maximize that growth curve which dwindles after 120 in most species).
The only way to accomplish this wondrous much-touted statistical inventory "improvement" (oh, and don't forget that incidental bonus of high quality tight-grain knotless old growth board footage for this year's quota), is to do a "regeneration harvest"... I.E., a clearcut, re-planted with nursery grown seedlings wearing protective anti-grazing plastic bud-caps (pesky deer and elk), followed by aerial dispersal of pelletized fertilizer, competing-vegetation control (generally manual, herbicides got bad p.r.) and lo, thus erupts the hillside with that nice dense new inventory of "shade intolerant" young trees! Except of course when it mysteriously doesn't work.

The arrogant simplicity of this logic is difficult to dispute to its practitioners, as they endeavor to the task with something akin to religious zeal. (Man's Dominion?)
The Sound Science which proudly formulates this agricultural recipe can appear to the unconvinced as deliberate as a game of horseshoes:
1980's-- Clear the Debris from the streams for the Fish!
1990's-- NO, wait, throw Debris into the Streams for the Fish!
However, if one expresses any doubts about the High Priests of Forestry Science and their current all-knowing "management" of a forest ecosystem, expect eruptions of derision and a quick personal inspection of your body for any minute hypocritical signs of paper or wood consumption.

So it is not with Malice but the Sound Science of Supply that huge swaths of old growth forest are being systematically converted to tree farms.
There are many examples of how idiotic this is even from an economic perspective: Robbie Freres' purchase of Horse Byars' 5.7 million board feet is a snapshot.
He is getting this 90% old-growth fir forest at 1980's prices thanks to our Benevolent Lawmakers.
So, at one quarter of its current market value, he doesn't give a hoot that he's just chucking six-foot diameter logs on the lathe to peel down into construction-grade plywood (he doesn't own a sawmill).
This top-quality wood will not become crafted furniture, spectacular timbers for a post-and-beam house, or other high-end applications employing 'several' levels of manufacturing craftsmanship (did someone say "jobs"?) and maximizing the value of the beautiful material.
It will instead slam through *one* mechanized meltdown process, then will probably be utilized just once for concrete forms for pouring a freeway overpass and then go straight to landfill.

The irony is that these much vaunted "renewable resource" forests will never again be allowed to fully regenerate to their prior state.
Even in the unlikely event that the replanted trees make it to the top end of their 'projected' harvest cycle, it is less than half way to what they were.
Not only will the large swaths of unique old-growth forest ecosystems be extinguished, the timber industry will never again produce the particularly high quality of wood found only in old trees.

But hey, they say: we're just trying to keep up with demand.]

--Nelslens@aol.com, "Re: Pacific Logging Congress", wall-list@igc.apc.org, [Accessed 20 August 1996]

There are "successful" examples of responsible, sustainable forestry in the Northwest.
Collins Pine, a Portland-based timber company, manages privately held forestlands of about 100,000 acres.
They do single-tree select cutting of approximately 30 million board feet per year, and the total net inventory of timber on their land has remained constant since they began cutting in 1943.
I took a walk in their forest last month. To the casual observer, the land is untouched forest; no clearcuts, and in every stand I saw old growth as well as seedlings (and a few stumps).
They do "no" re-planting, preferring natural regeneration as nature knows best. No fertilizing.
Their land is reportedly home to spotted owls, ospreys, bald eagles, and at one point a group of deer bounded off at my approach.
Only in the areas of very recent cutting could one discern the impacts of logging activities.
Slash and by-products from their mill fuel their co-generation plant that produces more power than they consume, and they sell the excess to the PG&E grid.
They are a very successful, profitable, privately held company with a commitment to community, both human and planetary.


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