High Country News has a nice article that I thought you might enjoy as a follow-up to a post I wrote a few days ago about the state of havoc in which we find our western pine forests. Overall it’s a good story; here’s a bit I want specifically to comment on:
But the push to thin forests while boosting timber production has created a conundrum for many conservationists, including myself, who are wary that the programs could be giving a “new name to an old saw.” A report released earlier this year, Increasing the Pace of Restoration and Job Creation on our National Forests, estimated that new ‘restoration’ activities would increase the amount of logged forest sold in 2014 to 3 billion board feet, up from 2.4 billion board feet in 2011. (emphasis mine)
The moment an economic component is attached to a logging project, even a much-needed restoration thinning project, the environmental community throws up its hands and says “hell no.” Environmentalists can’t let it go; the hangover they have from the bad old days when the timber industry ran roughshod over our forest (and the Forest Service). They can’t recognize that those days are long gone. We’ve gone from cutting 12 billion board feet a year in this country to only 2.4 bbf, yet the environmental groups still won’t condone any nexus between business and forestry. It’s a fact that if a private business doesn’t cut the timber, then the timber won’t get cut. There’s no federal “logging crew” on call to do the work.
If we have any hope of restoring our western forests, this is a roadblock we’ve got to work through. We’ve got 120 million acres of forest that needs restoration work, and we’re knocking off a few hundred thousand acres a year, if we’re lucky.