FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem

Gallatin Range. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

For decades the timber industry and its political allies have claimed that efforts to maintain Montana’s functioning forest ecosystems and native wildlife have “shut down” logging.  But two recent articles reveal that the basic economic principles of over-supply and over-production in the timber industry are the real problems, not environmentalists, the Endangered Species Act, or being “locked out” of national forests by wilderness designations.   But don’t take my word on it, read on to see what the industry itself has to say.

As Julia Altemus, logging lobbyist and director of the Montana Wood Products Association, told the Missoulian’s Rob Chaney:

“There’s been a lot of over-production across the board.  We have too much wood in the system and people weren’t building. That will make it tougher for us. What would help is if we could find new markets.”

When asked why Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. cut back its mill production cycle from 80 to 50 hours weekly, manager Paul McKenzie told the Hungry Horse News: “It’s purely market driven…demand for lumber across the country is down.”  As reported: “He also said supply has actually been good.”

In fact the “supply” of national forest trees is more than just good.  Last year the Forest Service received no bids on 15.6% of the timber it offered.  That’s 559.5 million board feet of timber that wasn’t cut because the timber industry did not bid on it.  It would take 112,000 log trucks lined up from Missoula to Fargo, North Dakota, to haul that many logs.  That means more than twice as much timber cut on all the national forests in Montana last year didn’t even draw a bid.

For some reason, these timber industry realities don’t seem to matter to Montana’s congressional delegation.  Rep. Gianforte wrote: “Unfortunately, fringe environmental groups…have nearly succeeded in closing our forests to timber management.”  Senator Daines regularly blames “radical environmentalists who are locking us out of our forests.”  And Senator Tester was given Four Pinocchios by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker for his false claim that environmentalists shut down logging in Montana.

Last year the Region One Forest Service, which includes Montana, met 90.9% of their timber sale target, which has risen a stunning 141% in the last ten years.  Due to the over-cutting and over-supply the price offered for standing timber has now fallen.  But the cost to taxpayers continues to climb to staggering heights.

new report by the Center for a Sustainable Economy found “taxpayer losses of nearly $2 billion a year associated with the federal logging program carried out on national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Despite these losses, the Trump Administration plans to significantly increase logging on these lands in the years ahead, a move that would plunge taxpayers into even greater debt.”

There’s also a significant cost to our public lands when more logging roads get bulldozed into unroaded areas as streams are filled with sediment and logging pushes big game onto private lands as forest hiding cover is clearcut.

In conclusion, the baseless demand for more logging by Montana’s congressional delegation, the timber industry, and collaborator groups is actually having the opposite effect: it’s reducing production, increasing job losses, and lowering standing timber value — all while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

Contrast this with Montana’s booming tourism economy and it’s clear our forested roadless areas are worth more designated as wilderness, as the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act would do, or simply left standing instead of being clearcut for an industry that, by its own admission, is wallowing in oversupply.

More articles by:

Mike Garrity is the executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
April 09, 2020
John Davis
Freedom Virus
Vincent Emanuele
The New Normal: Cascading and Multilayered Crises
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie’s Last Tape
John O'Kane
Remove the Boomer Virus and What Virus Remains?
Kevin Bixby – Daryl T. Smith
The Border Wall Risks Us All
Nick Pemberton
Could COVID-19 Count Fox News Among Its Victims?
Howard Lisnoff
American Exceptionalism in the Face of Covid-19
Charles Pierson
We Are Living (And Dying) in Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”
Sam Husseini
Sanders Suspends: What Happened? What Now?
Binoy Kampmark
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War
Ted Rall
Why We Need a New Progressive Party and How We Can Create It
Walden Bello
Martin Khor: the Making of a Global Activist
Ariel Dorfman
COVID-19 and the Lessons of Life in Exile
Merriam Ansara
John Lennon in Quarantine: a Letter From Havana
George Wuerthner
Politics and Corruption at Grand Canyon
Eugene Schulman
Lost in the Pandemic: the Forever Wars
Dean Baker
Basic Economics for Economic Columnists: a Depression is a Process, Not an Event
George Ochenski
The Dishonest Mr. Daines
Mike Ferner
Love in a Dangerous Time
Brian Horejsi
Beware Government Secrecy in Times of Pandemic
Sam Pizzigati
No Fennel in the Sausage, No $600 for the Jobless
Jason Christensen – John Carter
Conservation Groups Oppose the Nature Conservancy’s Cattle Grazing Development Project on the Border of Canyonlands National Park
April 08, 2020
Melvin Goodman
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Body Politic
Eve Ottenberg
Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
How China Learned About SARS-CoV-2 in the Weeks Before the Global Pandemic
Bill Quigley
Seven Disturbing Facts About COVID-19 in Louisiana
Joyce Nelson
BlackRock Takes Command
Geoff Dutton
Coronavirus as Metaphor: It’s Not Peanuts
Richard Moser
From Strike Wave to General Strike
Gary Leupp
Could COVID-19 Kill Capitalism?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Corona, Capital and Class in Germany
Tom Crofton
Aspirational vs Pragmatic: Why My Radicalness is Getting More Radical
Steve Kelly
Montana Ballot Access Decision Suppresses Green Party Voters
Jacob Hornberger
Muhammad Ali’s Fight Against the Pentagon
Phil Mattera
The Rap Sheets of the Big Ventilator Producers
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19?
Rick Baum
When “Moderate” Democrats Lead the Ticket and Win, Down-Ballot Candidates Soon Suffer Losses
Jake Johnston
Tens of Millions Will Be Pushed into Poverty Amid COVID-Induced Recession
Kim C. Domenico
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear in the Age of Coronavirus
John W. Whitehead
Draconian Lockdown Powers and Civil Liberties
Binoy Kampmark
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus
Luke Ruediger
BLM Timber Sale Increases Fire Risk, Reduces Climate Resilience and Harms Recreation
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail