Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Myth of the Tree Shortage

The USDA Forest Service took the lead in this study and enlisted help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. For over two years, more than 25 scientists and analysts worked on this study. More than 100 scientists from universities, state and federal agencies, industry and conservation organizations provided peer reviews to enhance the accuracy and completeness of this report. Finally, in late 2001, the report was made public and was received with huge waves of apathy.

Why? The report was of no use to the radical environmental community because, with painstaking research and documented facts, it destroyed every assertion they had made concerning the forests of the south. It gave the lie to their "chicken little" scenarios and was impregnable to their attack because of the unimpeachable integrity of those who had created the study. So the radical environmental community just acted as if it had never happened.

From the stump landscapes of the early 1900’s, the southern forests have recovered to become one of the wood baskets of the world. Vibrant, never static, quickly responding to changing conditions, the southern forests meet the needs of today and are poised to embrace tomorrow.

The Resource Assessment does not cover the why of this marvelous transformation, but I will tell you why. It is because the southern forests are privately owned. The essential difference between the southern forests and the burning, stagnant forests of the west and looted forests of foreign lands is that of private ownership. Each landowner managing his own lands (and doing it very well as the Assessment shows) for his own perceived self-interest....

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