Corporate Welfare in the Forest


The Forest Service is under extreme political pressure to log our national patrimony, whether it makes any economic or ecological sense. A good example of a needless, ecologically damaging, and economically wasteful logging proposal is the proposed $1.4 million Pole Creek post-fire logging sale.

Pole Creek is a good example of privatized profits and socialized costs.

According to the Forest Service, the only purpose for this logging proposal is to provide logs to local mills. Unfortunately, this will cost an estimated $1.4 million to implement, and even subtracting any payment for the timber cut, the service estimates that it could lose as much as $866,000 of taxpayer funds.

Worse, any logging has additional ecological costs that the Forest Service is forced to ignore or downplay.

Forest ecologist Jerry Franklin, as well as many other scientists, has repeatedly stated that there is no ecological benefit to post fire logging. Forests do not need to be logged to be reforested, nor does logging “improve” the recovery. There are, however, ecological costs.

Logging operations can introduce weeds which will need to be controlled forever (another cost borne by taxpayers, not the timber companies). Logging removes snags important for many wildlife species from birds to bats. The proposed logging will cause a decline in snags, and the minimum amount of snags that are proposed to remain will not close this gap, significantly reducing the recruitment of future snags. Removal of larger dead trees known as legacy trees will also reduce the potential for future spotted owl habitat — since dead logs on the ground are home to many wildlife species, including the owls’ prime prey.

Logging removes biomass and the nutrients they hold, which are an investment in the next generation of trees, from pollinating native bees and larger mammals like the Pacific fisher. Though the fire has reduced big-game habitat, logging will only make the losses worse, since retention of snags do provide some security cover. Logging can disturb soils, reducing carbon storage and moisture retention, an important factor for dry eastside forests. Even closed logging roads become vectors for illegal ORV and mountain-bike access. The list of impacts is long.

In addition to facilitating this logging, the Forest Service proposes amending its own forest plan, allowing logging in scenic corridors.

Worse, the justification for this logging project is to create jobs, but we do not need to impoverish the forest to create jobs. The Valdez and Deep Water Horizon oil spills both created jobs, too. Ultimately, that is a loser strategy.

There are dozens of forest projects in need of funding that the $1.4 million could be spent on, which would create local jobs and enhance public lands, including the removal of old logging roads, restoration of trails, weed control, wildlife surveys and many other projects that the Forest Service desperately needs to do.

Even the excuse that we need to cut public forest trees to obtain wood for home construction does not hold up to scrutiny. The vast majority of all timber cut in the U.S. comes off of the more productive private lands.

Even during the heyday of public lands logging in the 1980s and 1990s, less than 4 percent of the nation’s wood came from public lands. Yet this logging is nearly always subsidized by taxpayers, undercutting the profitability of private timber owners, making it more difficult for them to log in sustainable fashion because they must compete against subsidized timber coming off of public lands.

The Pole Creek timber sale is a waste of tax dollars, and has no public benefits. It is corporate welfare. It should be abandoned.

George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy.

George Wuerthner has published 36 books including Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy.

October 07, 2015
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Witness to a Troubled Saint-Making: Junipero Serra and the Theology of Failure
Luciana Bohne
The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism
Joyce Nelson
TPP: Big Pharma’s Big Deal
Jonathan Cook
Israel Lights the Touchpaper at Al-Aqsa Again
Joseph Natoli
The Wreckage in Sight We Fail To See
Piero Gleijeses
Jorge Risquet: the Brother I Never Had
Andrew Stewart
Do #BlackLivesMatter to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Rajesh Makwana
#GlobalGoals? The Truth About Poverty and How to Address It
Joan Berezin
Elections 2016: A New Opening or Business as Usual?
Dave Randle
The Man Who Sold Motown to the World
Adam Bartley
“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China
Binoy Kampmark
The Killings in Oregon: Business as Usual
Harvey Wasserman
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors
Tom H. Hastings
Unarmed Cops and a Can-do Culture of Nonviolence
October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria