Monday, May 20, 2013

Political forest management has replaced scientific timber harvest

The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan was greeted with great political fanfare. It was supposed to "end the timber wars" by providing a stable and reliable long-term supply of timber volume for industry while protecting the northern spotted owl habitat and population. However, the plan has proven to be a colossal failure. The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have come nowhere near meeting their allowable annual sale quantity. Timber sales are continually contested and the spotted owl population continues to decline even with drastic timber reductions in harvest volume. Now the barred owl, a natural enemy for the spotted owl, has begun displacing the spotted owls. Mills must have a stable and reliable quantity of timber volume to survive. Because of lack of sufficient volume from federal lands, several mills have closed, leaving two local survivors. In attempts to obtain agreement and satisfaction regarding public agencies, industry and the environmentalists, a few "new timber sale prescriptions" have been developed in cooperation with academia. These sales are attempts to create jobs and get timber volume to mills while protecting the environment. These prescription sales, too, have been failures because they have not met the overall intended results. Thus, not everyone is satisfied with them. These new attempts have been very expensive, have produced very little commercial timber and too little revenue to be profitable to the counties Thus, they haven't met the legal requirements of the O&C Act of 1937 to produce revenue for the local counties. Apparently the only timber sales acceptable to environmentalists are thinning of small-diameter trees near homes to reduce wildfire hazards. Such sales produce little commercial timber and are either below cost or provide very little revenue. Such "treatments" produce political, not professional or scientific, overall forest management...more

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