Friday, April 13, 2007
could really help our forests
For The Daily Astorian
April 13, 2007
charge of Congress this year for the first time in 12 years, promising a new
direction for America.
Already, special interest groups have lined up. One such group is the
environmentalists, who urge Congress to take steps to prohibit the harvesting
of trees on federal lands.
If the Democrats are indeed committed to a new start, they must reject this
simplistic effort and realize these policies are wrong for the United States
- and the entire world. It is time for Democrats to develop a responsible
forest policy based on science, not myths.
For too many years they have bought into the misguided "leave it
alone" approach to managing our forests.
The results have been plain to see: overgrown forests that fall victim to
catastrophic wildfires and spew huge amounts of pollutants into the air.
These pollutants are counterproductive to reducing the carbon emissions and
ultimately devastate both watersheds and wildlife.
California has seen the increase in large-scale wildfires as federally owned
forestlands aren't managed. Policy has tied the hands of professional
foresters who have been unable to implement a sound, sustainable forest
policy that combines continual growth and harvesting of trees with the
long-term protection of wildlife, water, plants and soil.
Ironically this policy persists for the West at a time when attitudes are
changing back East. In a Harvard study, entitled "Wildlands and
Woodlands: A Vision for the Forests of Massachusetts," professors
conclude that actively managing and harvesting forests is critical to keeping
forestland in Massachusetts - and preventing the loss of open space.
In the Massachusetts study, Dr. David Foster, the Director of Harvard
University's Harvard Forest, says forest infrastructure needs protecting.
"We have to realize that we rely on our forests for clean air, clean
water, recreation, wildlife habitat and wood," Foster said. "The
nature of forest loss in the 21st century is different than anything we have
seen in the past. Pavement is almost always permanent."
In California, two recent studies by Cal Poly State University-San Luis
Obispo revealed that regulations carried out in the name of protecting the
environment are actually leading to privately owned forestland being
developed instead of conserved.
Excessive micromanagement of forest land has devastated many rural
communities in California and the Northwest, shutting down family-owned
businesses, putting thousands of workers into the unemployment line and
damaging the very people who practice responsible forest management. When
America doesn't harvest trees from its overcrowded forests, we find our wood
elsewhere from other countries - ultimately leading to environmental
devastation in countries with little or no proper forest management.
Not only do we export jobs, but we encourage huge environmental destruction
in countries without the environmental protections that exist in the U.S.
These policies send the wrong message to the world: destroy your forests even
though science shows the U.S. can meet much of its own wood needs with its
own resources. Unfortunately, we prevent the proper management of our forests
to "protect" them.
Senate leader Harry Reid from Nevada and Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California
come from two states that know the destruction and devastation that
catastrophic wildfires can bring. The two states are working together in the
Lake Tahoe area to reduce the imminent fire danger there - though so much
more needs to be done.
Democrats are back in control - but should not go back to the days when they
let environmental extremists write forest policy based on myth and fallacies.
Instead, legislation needs to come after thoughtful consideration based on
sound forest practices.
Active forest management can help our country meet its own wood products
needs in a way that is good for global environments and helps fight global
Larry Reandeau of Astoria, who has worked in wood-processing mills for 43
years, is the Western Regional Director of the Pulp and Paperworkers'