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
- Clearcut areas can be small or
large. Shelterwood cutting is a type of clearcutting which leaves a
few trees per acre to reseed the area from those remaining trees.
However, those trees are cut down a few years later. The euphemistic technique
termed "group selection" as normally practiced is really just a patchwork
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
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.
- The stands are not natural forests.
- Natural forests are filled with
many types of trees, plants, animals, and healthy abundant soil, all working
together for the most efficient and maximum growth of the trees and all
other living biomass in the forest. The natural forest is filled with
old, middle age and young trees, and is naturally resistant to damage
from fire, floods and drought.
- In contrast, these artificial stands
of trees are a "biological desert". They are devoid of all of the magnificent,
diverse and myriad forms of plant and animal life, which have made up
the fabric of life in Americaís forests for thousands of years.TOP
Arenít these replanted tree stands a good
replacement for Americaís natural forests?
- First, many replantings are
complete failures. After a clearcut, in many cases, the newly planted
tree seedlings die. Clearcutting removes the forest, exposing the tiny
tree seedlings to extreme heat, cold, dryness, and wind, killing them,
and leaving once healthy forested areas barren.
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.
- Second, even when these artificial
stands of trees do grow on a clearcut area, they are not a good replacement
for a natural forest because these tree stands must be intensively managed
against nature. As in farming monocrops, repeated applications of
toxic chemicals are used to prevent the process of natural succession,
that is, to stop the natural diversity of plants and trees from returning.
The trees are viewed as a crop, and all others forms of life as pests.
These monoculture stands of trees are extremely susceptible to massive
infestations by pests and diseases, which then prompts the Forest Service
to cut down uninfested as well as infested trees. Also, these stands have
no moist underbrush, as do natural forests, and therefore are very dry
and susceptible to intensely hot unnatural fires. The Forest Service has
recently greatly increased "salvage" logging of burned, diseased, or bug
infested forests, claiming to do so to increase forest health, even though
fire, disease, and bugs are all part of nature. The salvage logging is
simply an excuse to cut as much timber as possible, by whatever name.TOP
Arenít these artificially
maintained stands of tree at least economically successful replacements
for natural forests?
- Forest Service timber programs
in nearly every National Forest lose money for American taxpayers. The
small revenues from federal timber sales never pay back the enormous costs
involved in subsidized logging. Costs include road building ($10,000 or
more per mile), heavy machinery to clearcut, expensive site preparation
methods, hand replanting, and the enormous Forest Service and other overhead
costs in the bloated administrative bureaucracies.
- Even using the Forest Serviceís
own deliberately confusing accounting system (TSPIRS), the Forest Service
has lost an astounding $365 million in a recent fiscal year.
- The destruction to fisheries and
outdoor recreation causes tremendous economic losses and unemployment
in those and related industries. These financial losses are far greater
than the revenues from timber cutting.
- Timber workers must suffer the
ravages of boom and bust cycles of unemployment.
- Subsidies applied to below cost
federal timber sales put the federal forest timber in direct competition
with timber from small woodlot owners. This creates incentives for the
woodlot owners to clearcut and sell off their forests for a short term
profit, instead of managing their land in an ecologically and economically
sound manner using selection management.
- The only beneficiaries of clearcutting
our federal forest lands are the few timber companies and lumber mills
that are taking the cream of Americaís public forests at bargain prices.TOP
What is the correct method
for obtaining wood from forests, without destroying the forests in the process?
- The last
Ancient Forests, Roadless forest areas, streamsides, second growth areas
with critically important ecological values SHOULD NOT BE LOGGED AT ALL.
These are the last remaining
wild areas left in our national forests, and must be permanently protected
as core forest areas.
- Outside the
core forest areas, strictly limited amounts logging should be permitted,
but not clearcutting. As an alternative to clearcutting, selection
management is the method of cutting only individual or small groups of
trees in a healthy natural forest at periodic intervals, such as every
ten years. The forest
is continually planting new tree seedlings on its own, without the expense
of additional human labor involved in site prep. High quality timber is
available from the same stand on a perpetual basis. Employment is more
stable over the long run. More jobs are assured. The soil and its fertility
are continually replenished by the natural forest processes, so no expensive
artificial fertilization is necessary.
- Timber companies all over America
practice selection management on their own land. They know selection management
is good financial management. It is money in the bank, with guaranteed
income on continuous timber sales for decades ahead, and all this with
lower capital costs than even age logging (clearcutting).
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.