AOH :: USFOREST.TXT|
Deforestation hits home
[Excerted without permission from The New Republic (jan. 2, 1989). Subscriptions $56/yr (48 issues) e New Republic, Box 56515, Boulder, CO 80322.]
DEFORESTATION HITS HOME : US FOREST SERVICE LEVELS OUR LANDSCAPE
By Karen Franklin
Year after year, regardless of which party controls the White House, the
U.S. Forest Service runs its timber program with indifference to the
And that's not the half of it. The goverment often sells the wood at a
loss, sometimes an immense one; in effect paying money to degrade the
enviroment. It's not surprising that this agency consistantly draws fire from
both liberal enviromental groups and from conservative National Taxpayers
Between 1982 and 1987 the Forest Service's timer-cutting losses totaled
$2.4 billion dollars, according to congressional testimony by Barry R. Flamm,
a former supervisor of the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, now chief
forester of the wilderness Society. Timer sales from the Tongass National
Forest in southeast Alaska, for example, have lost from 91 to 99 cents on the
dollar during the 1980s. In spite of a severely depressed timber market in
the region, Foirest Service engineers built roads and well-appointed
wilderness logging camps to the tune of at least $40 million a year, to
provide timber that no one was very interested in buying. The agency started
out asking $1,000 per thousand broadfeet of cedar. But the Louisiana-Pacific
Corporation and Japan's Alaska Pulp Corporation - Tongass' exclusive
customers by 50-year contract - insisted they couldn't pay that much. The
price they finally settled on was $1.22. Similarly, spruce went from an
asking price of $215 to $2.25.
In attempting to explain why the Forest Service pays money to disrupt the
enviroment, agency officials often cite its lifelong friendship with
timber-dependant communities. Some 90 years ago the Forest service began to
invite mills to set up shop near the National forests, and whole towns grew up.
To this day, Forest Service planners base their management decisions primarily
on a skewed sense of obligation to locals.
Such thinking ignores the rest of the American people, each of whom owns
an equal share in the national forests. Federal law mandates that the Forest
service preserve endangered species' habitats, water quality, and backcountry
recreation areas; nowwhere does it require the agency to look out for local
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