USA: Global warming reinvigorates movement to end all commercial logging on federal lands

Growing public concern about global warming has reinvigorated the
decades-old movement to end all commercial logging on federal lands
and has spurred new support for the “zero cut” concept. Head off the
Threat Political Action Committee, or a new national PAC dedicated to electing politicians pledged to reversing climate change,  has incorporated the idea into its platform. Hottpac would “leave all forests on public lands standing and intact and stop all logging on America’s public lands immediately.”

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That is a policy Timothy G. Hermach, president of the Eugene, Oregon-based Native Forest Council, has pursued since he coined the expression “zero cut” decades ago. He returned to Washington last November for the first time in four years, intent on convincing the incoming administration and members of Congress that continued logging on public lands is wrongheaded. “Most Americans don’t realize that they own national forests and they are being logged at our expense,” says Hermach, referring to a wealth of studies showing that the U.S. Forest Service spends more to build logging roads and make sale preparations than it receives in payment for the lumber.

During the heyday of federal timber sales two decades ago, the Congressional
Research Service estimated that taxpayers lost more than $1 billion a
year. Since then, lawsuits over the northern spotted owl, salmon and
other threatened species have dramatically reduced the amount of
timber coming off federal lands. In 1988, 12.6 billion board feet were
harvested nationwide, according to the Forest Service. In 2008, the
amount had stabilized at about two billion board feet annually. But
the red ink continues to flow. The most recent attempt to tally the
losses was conducted by the John Muir Project of the Earth Island
Institute in 2005.

The conclusion: The program was an average of
$835.5 million per year in the red between fiscal years 1997 and 2004.
And that figure does not include the environmental and biodiversity
losses. Andy Mahler of Heartwood, a cooperative network of grassroots
forest groups in the East, Midwest and South, says there is no
economic justification for logging the national forests but there is
“an overwhelming logic” to protecting them.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has pointed out that large contiguous tracks of forest land are one of our best hedges against changing climate,” says Mahler. “Add to that the watershed protections, habitat, recreation value and peace of mind they provide and there is an overwhelming logic to protecting public forests.” Of the 750 million acres of U.S. forest still standing, the Forest Service manages 191 million acres and the Bureau of Land Management another 53 million acres. Most of the rest is privately owned. Nationwide, logging employs far less than 1% of the nation’s workforce.

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While logging on federal lands still has an impact on local economies, especially in Western states, it is considerably less than two decades ago. Shawn Church, editor of Random Lengths, an industry trade publication, says Forest Service sales have become so insignificant to domestic lumber  supplies that if federal timber were removed altogether from the market, he says, “It would have some effect on the surviving sawmills. But it would be at the margin.”

Most commercial logging long ago
shifted to private land, predominantly in Southern states, bringing
with it a myriad of other environmental problems and political fights.
Even organizations such as NRDC that support some renewed logging as
long as old-growth forests are protected, are apprehensive about what
the new legislation could look like. “The next legislation we’ll see
moving quickly will be management of old growth in the Pacific
Northwest,” says Neil Lawrence, director of NRDC’s Forest Project. “It
could be very beneficial but it could be too heavily influenced by the
timber industry and make things worse.”

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Comments (5)

BodydetoxguyOctober 2nd, 2009 at 1:16 am

the effect of Global Warming these days is even worst. i think every government should pass stricter laws on Carbon Emissions. we should also concentrate more on renewable energy sources and avoid fossil fuels.

be cool be redOctober 13th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

you guys are a bunch of dumb liberals. quit crying about life. wouldn’t you rather be productive in life rather then crying with your protest sign on a street corner. democrats these days, my goodness.
So when are we all going spotted owl huntin’?

John smithDecember 17th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Man made global warming is a fraud. Al gore should be put in jail.

Beautiful Girls GalleryJanuary 3rd, 2010 at 2:45 am

Global warming is becoming such an obvious problem that someone somewhere other than the US President needs to step up to help drive a massive campaign which aims to reduce Global Warming.

Alicia MeyerFebruary 14th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Global Warming and Climate Change is the biggest environmental issue that we face these days. the long term effects of these environmental changes to a nations economy is quite damaging. there would be a shortage in food supply as well as on water supply too.

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