Clearcutting: Destroying
America's Public Forests

What is clearcutting?
What is site prep?
Aren't these areas replaced with natural forests?
Arenít these at least economically successful ?

What is the correct method for obtaining wood from forests?

The forest ecosystems of America are undergoing a crisis of survival. Our federal forests, far from being an oasis of pristine wildlife and natural ecology, are in many cases examples of very bad forest mismanagement. Over the past decades, the agencies managing these public lands have severely overcut these forests so that in some regions, entire Ancient forest ecosystems on federal lands have been destroyed, and may never recover.

One of the main "techniques" used by the US Forest Service and other agencies in their attack on the natural forests has been clearcutting (even-age logging) and its associated practices of roadbuilding, slash burning, site preparation and pesticide use. Since the Forest Service adopted even-age logging as the primary method about 35 years ago, many of the ecologically richest federal forests have been wiped out, mangled by clearcutting. The irony is that the Federal government is paying billions of dollars per year to the Forest Service and other agencies to administer our national forests, which includes the logging program. Billions of taxpayer dollars have bee lost.TOP

What is clearcutting?

Clearcutting and its variations: seed tree, shelterwood cutting and group selection, is the method of logging a forest so that all or most of the trees are cut down immediately or within a few years. The existing natural forest, with its biodiversity of plant and animal species, and the clean water and clean air it produces, is entirely eliminated. In many logging operations on National Forests which employ clearcutting, as much as 66% of the wood is left as debris or residue, a phenomenal waste of our precious forest resources.

What is site prep?

After the devastation of clearcutting, the Forest Service subjects the site to preparation for replanting tree seedlings. Individual living trees which were not wanted for lumber, and were left standing, are killed by various methods. To "clean up" the site, bulldozers scrape the land, pushing the remains, woody debris, broken vegetation, and unfortunate animal victims into piles. In many regions of the country, these large slash piles are burned in huge smoldering fires, creating tremendous air pollution, and destroying forever the genetic blueprints of the local populations of the wide variety of plants and animals that lived in the area. Many times one or more applications of herbicides are applied to kill remaining vegetation. Sometimes individual living trees are injected with poison to kill them.TOP

Arenít these areas replanted with natural forests?

No! The Forest Service and other agencies eliminate the natural forests, and replace them with artificial stands of genetically similar tree seedlings. They grow trees in monoculture (only one type of tree) plantations for wood, chips or pulp.

Arenít these replanted tree stands a good replacement for Americaís natural forests?

No!

Furthermore, clearcutting causes massive soil erosion and nutrient loss, making it impossible for a large, natural old-growth forest to grow on some sites again! The final result is a landscape devoid of most vegetation; many clearcut areas of our National Forests in high elevations, dry or extreme cold or hot areas, or on steep slopes, are now parched wastelands.

Arenít these artificially maintained stands of tree at least economically successful replacements for natural forests?

No!

What is the correct method for obtaining wood from forests, without destroying the forests in the process?

On Federal lands, selection management can efficiently produce timber to be a small, steady supplement to our nationís timber supply, the vast majority of which comes from Americaís privately owned timberlands. By ending logging in core forest areas, and prohibiting clearcutting, whole natural forests will begin to return, bringing the native vegetation, tree species, and animal forest inhabitants back to the newly recovering forest ecosystems. TOP