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America’s Endangered Forests

by MATTHEW KOEHLER

 

Today, the National Forest Protection Alliance – a network of 135 organizations from around the country – released its third biennial report listing twelve of the country’s most endangered national forests.

It could easily be argued that every single one of America’s 155 national forests face mounting threats to wildlife, clean water and wild places. In part this is due to the Bush Administration’s public lands policies, which have clearly titled the playing field to favor their friends and campaign contributors in the resource extraction industry.

However, as any seasoned public lands activist will tell you, another part is due to the U.S. Forest Service itself, which has not only failed to confront a post-WWII legacy of industrial-style resource extraction that scared the land with over 400,000 miles of roads and the near liquidation of our ancient forests, but continues in many places to operate with a frontier mentality that clearly is out of line with 21st Century realities.

“Our national forests face myriad threats from Bush administration policies and Forest Service management,” said Jake Kreilick, NFPA’s Endangered Forests Project Coordinator and author of the report. “Collectively, the forest profiles in this report illustrate the poor ecological state of the national forest system as a whole, in large part from Forest Service efforts to place private, industrial interests above the long-term interests of the American people who own these forests and the long-term survival of the critters that calls these forests home.”

This year’s report, which is cleverly titled America’s Endangered National Forests: Lumber, Landfill or Living Legacy?, is unique in that it offers the most up-to-date analysis of the marketplace for wood products from national forests. The major conclusion drawn from this research is that the market share of national forest wood products will likely remain near its current level – 2% of the U.S.’s total consumption – despite the federal government’s efforts to increase industrial logging through higher subsidies and policies like the Healthy Forests Initiative.

“This 2% of our lumber and paper supply comes at the highest ecological cost to our nation’s environment,” said Kreilick. “Much of the logging is still directed at the most sensitive forested habitats remaining in the U.S., including roadless areas, ancient, old-growth forests and critical fish and wildlife habitat.”

For example, in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, all of the wood logged from America’s largest national forest comes from old-growth temperate rainforests and much of it is shipped to Asia. Since the Bush Administration exempted the Tongass from the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in 2003, the agency has made plans for fifty roadless area timber sales over the next ten years.

“Most Americans would be shocked to learn that logging on the Tongass National Forest is still being scheduled at about the same yearly rate that, over the past century, has already endangered this forest,” stated Larry Edwards of Greenpeace. “To force rational management of this national treasure and other national forests, we must turn to the one place where people have indomitable power – the marketplace.”

Another vivid example is on the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, which has some of the highest aquatic fauna diversity in the nation and supports nearly 60% of Kentucky’s native fish. This native diversity is threatened by a tree-plantation and road building boom across the forest.

“The big threat we see is that the Forest Service wants to turn the Daniel Boone National Forest into the Daniel Boone National Tree Farm,” said Tina Johnson, Council member of Kentucky Heartwood. “Kentuckians agree that the clean water, rare wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities that our public forests provide are too precious to be traded away for short-term industry profits.”

The economic research presented in the report’s market section was compiled by Dr. John Talberth, an expert on the values and benefits derived from all national forest programs and uses.

“Clearly, America’s national forests are far more valuable standing than cut down and converted into 2 x 4’s and paper products that are of trivial importance to our nation’s wood products supply,” explained Dr, Talberth. “Nonetheless, through generous taxpayer subsidies of the federal timber sale program, the Forest Service is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. These subsidies would be far better spent protecting and restoring ecological services of immense value to both existing and future generations.”

The National Forest Protection Alliance believes that the marketplace – and the purchasing practices of consumers ¬- provides a new and effective avenue for protecting and restoring national forests. After all, they say it’s crystal clear that citizens can’t rely on Congress or the Bush Administration to protect these public forests, as they are the very entities promoting more industrial logging and development.

“Given the disconnect between these bigger economic trends and the federal government’s pro-logging and pro-development policies, consumers have a great opportunity to demand corporate responsibility and play an increasingly important role in changing how national forests are managed,” explained Jeanette Russell of NFPA.

America’s Most Endangered Forests:

Malheur National Forest (OR),
Siskiyou National Forest (OR),
Oregon BLM Forests;
Allegheny National Forest (PA);
Bighorn National Forest (WY);
Daniel Boone National Forest (KY);
Los Padres National Forest (CA);
George Washington & Jefferson National Forest (VA);
Rio Grande National Forest (CO);
Tongass National Forest (AK);
National Forests in Mississippi;
Bitterroot National Forest (MT).

Special Mention:

Black Hills National Forest (SD);
Nantahala National Forest (NC).

Threatened:

Carson National Forest (NM);
Wayne National Forest (OH);
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (KY);
Flathead National Forest (MT);
Kaibab National Forest (AZ);
Michigan National Forests: (Huron-Manistee, Hiawatha and Ottawa);
Klamath National Forest (CA);
Nez Perce National Forest (ID);
Umpqua National Forest (OR).

Key Ecological Findings in the Report Include:

o Since 2002, the volume of the federal logging program has grown by over 300 million board feet (to visualize, image log trucks lined up end to end for nearly 500 miles) in large part to an escalation of logging in Oregon, California and the South. The USFS continues to use fire risk reduction and forest health as the primary management rationales.

o Oregon has more at-risk national forests than any other state. Representing some of the nation’s most diverse old-growth forests remaining, these forests contain the region’s largest roadless areas, which provide critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

o Logging on national forests in the eastern U.S. continues to rise, as demonstrated in the profiles of the Allegheny, George Washington & Jefferson, Daniel Boone, and Mississippi National Forests.

o Most all of the forests featured in the report face significant threats to roadless areas from logging, roadbuilding, grazing, ORVs and the Bush Administration’s gutting of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Consequently, protecting roadless areas is no longer a priority of the Forest Service and many are now proposed for development.

o Due to the Bush-Cheney Energy Plan, energy development for coal, oil, natural gas, and coalbed methane gas remains unchecked on a handful of national forests (Daniel Boone, Allegheny, Los Padres, Carson, Huron-Manistee) and a growing problem on many others.

o Other prominent threats to the environmental quality of the national forest system include the growing impacts from the proliferation of Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs), ski area development and continuing problems from urban encroachment and transportation development.

You can learn more about the National forest Protection Alliance by visiting: http://www.forestadvocate.org.

MATTHEW KOEHLER is director of the Native Forest Network based in Missoula, Montana. He can be reached at: koehler@wildrockies.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005

 

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