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Oregonian editorial concerning Survey and Manage

3/25/04 editorial commenting on loss of Survey and Manage provisions.
More logging at a snail's pace

Getting rid of surveys won't help the Northwest if the industry insists on going after old-growth trees


I t never made much sense for the U.S. Forest Service to spend tens of millions of dollars every year crawling around old-growth forests counting slugs and snails and searching for mushrooms and moss.

The Northwest won't miss the "survey and manage" rule abandoned by the Bush administration in a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the timber industry. The rule was a shrewd poison pill inserted into the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994 that crippled the plan's promise of a small but stable level of logging on public forests.

Survey and manage was a full-employment act for several thousand Forest Service contract workers, and a herd of environmental lawyers who repeatedly and successfully used the rule to block old-growth timber sales. In some years, federal agencies spent more than $100 million surveying more than 400 organisms thought to live only in Northwest old-growth forests.

That's federal money that could be used to craft smart timber sales on overly dense stands of second-growth trees, protect communities from wildfires, or even funnel support back to small towns still suffering from the collapse of logging on federal lands.

The Bush administration is right to order the Forest Service to get off its hands and knees and stop tallying lichens. Yet there's a good chance the timber industry and its allies will once again figure out a way to snatch defeat from a rare political victory in the Northwest woods.

If the industry sees the end of survey and manage as an invitation to bull its way back into the remaining ancient forests of Western Oregon and Washington, it's going to all but ensure that logging continues at a snail's pace.

That way only leads to more protests, appeals and lawsuits, not to the steady supply of logs that the Northwest needs. Instead of clawing for more old growth, the industry should be pushing for more timber sales and a more predictable supply of logs from the tens of thousands of acres of Western Oregon that are covered with too-thick, even-age stands planted 30 or 40 years ago.

The Oregonian's Michael Milstein recently reported that the Siuslaw National Forest on the central Oregon coast, once the epicenter of the fight over old growth, is providing a steady stream of logs without clear-cutting or bringing down ancient trees. The Siuslaw is now as unusual as a rare slug -- one of a very few national forests exceeding Forest Service logging goals.

This new careful and cooperative management on the Siuslaw forest is the future of public-lands logging in the Northwest. It's not about counting snails and finding moss, or about logging the last great old-growth forests.
More....... 28.Mar.2004 15:55

The public responds


Looking to speed up timber sales


Your March 25 editorial, "More logging at a snail's pace," misses some important points on survey-and-manage requirements in the Northwest Forest Plan. All timber sales, even thinnings, were required to go through this process, not just old-growth sales.

Hopefully, dropping these onerous surveys will speed up all timber sales on federal ground, a component of which is supposed to be old-growth timber. The few remaining old-growth cutting mills deserve a supply of this higher-grade wood to sustain their operations and the family-wage jobs they provide, and to (satisfy) the demand

My biggest hope is for this to speed up the restoration of the land and salvage of burned timber covering almost a million acres of Oregon timberland before it all becomes unmarketable. Some of these burned trees are more than two years old and closing in fast on being unmarketable.

There are billions of board feet of timber going to waste on the Biscuit, Clark, Apple, Tiller, Timbered Rock, Davis, Eyerley, B&B, Toolbox, Winter Rim, Flagtail and Monument fire sites, to name a few.


Vested Interest 28.Mar.2004 18:15

give me a break

Gosh, what a suprise! It seems that Mr. Horrax (whose response letter is posted above) has been employed as a (de)forester for Columbia Helicopters.

Here's an article from a couple of years ago where he speaks glowingly in favor of the kind of "selective" logging that comprised the Eagle Creek timber sale. Of course, Columbia was contracted to do the helicopter logging units there. To really get a good feel for this kind of "sensible logging", check out the bombed out units at Eagle that were logged before the sale was cancelled.


Two little words 28.Mar.2004 22:29

politics as possible

Two little words encapsulate this entire story: "Bush administration." Does anyone remember that as late as 2001 many so-called and eminent enviromentalists were still talking about how the Republican Party could be opened to good environmental thinking? Let's shed the delusions, people, about the Democrats, sure, but above all let''s leave any delusions about "good Republicans" behind us right now. They haven't helped the forests. They aren't going to help us. The solution is in clear-cutting.