Hanson: “Forest ‘restoration’ rule is ruse to increase [commercial] logging”

This op-ed is nothing new from Chad Hanson, but here goes anyhow….

“The U.S. Forest Service recently proposed a sweeping effort to identify aspects of environmental analysis and public participation to be “reduced” or “eliminated” regarding commercial logging projects in our national forests, with initial public comments due Friday. The Trump administration is attempting to spin this as an effort to promote “increased efficiency” for the expansion of forest “restoration,” but these are just euphemisms for more destructive logging.”

Logging is “destructive” — especially commercial logging. That’s partly, I think, because it is commercial — a profit might be made. This issue came up in a recent discussion I had with friends about the highly controversial plan by Nestle to build a water-bottling plant in Cascade Locks, a small town on the Columbia River. (The plans were nixed last year by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.) Bark, an environmental group that is opposed to commercial logging on the nearby Mt. Hood National Forest, also is opposed to commercial water bottling: It suggested that like-minded people “Please tell [the state regulatory agency] that ‘Giving public water away so that Nestlé can bottle and profit from it is the wrong thing for Oregon! Retain our public water rights!’

I asked one of my well-connected friends who opposed the deal whether other opponents would favor it if, instead of Nestle, a non-profit organization or perhaps the city of Cascade Locks itself opened a bottling plant. His answer: “Of course!” Much of the opposition was apparently not about the water, but about making a profit from it.

Would Hanson would oppose “destructive logging” even if a non-profit were the contractor? Probably. Others do not. The National Wild Turkey Federation hasn’t had much opposition to its work as a stewardship contractor in Arizona, for example:

“Forest thinning offers several benefits, according to Scott Lerich, NWTF senior regional biologist. Among them are: increased biodiversity, watershed quality and amounts of forbs and grasses available for wildlife. It also increases employment opportunities, conservation of wildlife and prevents large-scale forest fires.” And: “Encompassing about 5,000 acres and home to Mount Graham red squirrels and Mexican spotted owls, this area needs commercial logging and prescribed fire to manage several species of pine and firs.”

When I interviewed Lerich for a recent article in The Forestry Source, he told me that the Center for Biological Diversity approved of the project.

If anyone of this blog has a connection with Hanson, I suggest that you invite him to join us in a discussion of the commercial aspects of logging.

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Of course, Hanson has little evidence for his claim of clearcutting in salvage sales. His group has already shown itself to be ‘untrusted’ to present credible evidence. Yes, there are ways of determining if salvaged lands are private or Forest Service. We’ve seen the pictures and I’m not believing it. My expert opinion says the pictures are not adequate evidence. If Hanson actually had that irrefutable evidence, he surely would have taken it to court and filed an injunction. What I would demand (as irrefutable evidence) is Forest Service salvage project plans that mandate a clearcut. Of course, no such thing exists, in ANY western Forest Service salvage project. EVERY cutting unit has snag guidelines, accomplished in multiple ways. You can leave, for example, 2 snags per acre, in average, scattered across the unit. Or, you can have one or more clumps of snags left for wildlife. Of course, hazard tree zones are exempt from snag requirements, for obvious reasons.

    I just don’t believe what he is claiming, about both ‘commercial logging’ and salvage projects. Again, clearcutting in the Sierra Nevada National Forests has been, voluntarily, banned since 1993. Today’s commercial logging projects cut trees with an average diameter of about 15 inches, with a strict 30 inch diameter limit on non-hazardous trees. What is, specifically, wrong with such “Thin From Below” projects, even if they sell the excess trees?

  2. I think it’s good to parse this out, Steve. I think some people just use the word “commercial” or “industrial” to make it seem bad.. like those are not good uses for public land. For example, people talk about “industrial recreation>”

    I would be fine with that non-commercial idea, except if you want to go that way, you should go all the way and include ski areas, outfitter guides, commercial firewood people, mushroom collectors, fluid and solid minerals, cell towers, powerlines, and almost an infinite variety of other uses. I’d add grazing but I’m not sure how many of those folks have financial profits. And they are not public goods “given away”..for example, my house is heated by natural gas and oil and gas folks pay royalties.

    So (at least some of the ) the public generally gets some good, and the commercial folks pay something.

    That’s the way current public land laws are designed and the FS has to follow the law.

    And guess what, the outdoor industry is working toward streamlining NEPA for guided recreation (some commercial some not for profit). When I spoke with the OIA, the spokesperson said they shouldn’t have to do as much as currently required because they’re not “extractive.” (I’m not saying their NEPA shouldn’t be streamlined but recreation does have impacts, just like anything else.). So that’s another good/bad industry word.

  3. I saw Dr. Hanson’s oped the other day and was wondering how many days it would take to get posted here.

    It’s interesting to see how people like to spin things he says in a short piece, and even twist some things he didn’t say into a form that better suits their need to critique Dr. Hanson.

    For example, this will seem minor, but Dr. Hanson wrote:

    “The U.S. Forest Service recently proposed a sweeping effort to identify aspects of environmental analysis and public participation to be “reduced” or “eliminated” regarding commercial logging projects in our national forests, with initial public comments due Friday. The Trump administration is attempting to spin this as an effort to promote “increased efficiency” for the expansion of forest “restoration,” but these are just euphemisms for more destructive logging.”

    That’s a pretty fair statement in my mind about the latest effort by Trump’s USFS. They have, in fact, proposed to identify aspects of current and important environmental analysis and public participation to be “reduced” or “eliminated” as they relate to the federal government’s commercial timber sale program on USFS lands.

    Next, Dr. Hanson says, in his opinion, that these words from the Trump Administration about “increased efficiency” are “just euphemisms for more destructive logging.”

    So, Steve takes that statement and twists it to better fit his needs. Steve writes that Hanson said “Logging is ‘destructive.'” The intent here is to make it seem like Hanson said all logging is destructive.

    Well, no really, Dr. Hanson didn’t say that. He claim that destructive logging is destructive. Again, that’s in his opinion, and what would he know given the fact that he’s basically spent the last 30 years of his life working daily on these issues, including what’s very likely much more time in the field than most anyone on this blog.

    Destructive logging is destructive logging and it should be opposed by everything, I would think.

    I have a great connection with Dr. Hanson. Pretty sure he wouldn’t waste his time on this blog, but if any of you are eager to debate Dr. Hanson set up something in a public forum and have it at it. Steve, why doesn’t SAF invite Dr. Hanson to a debate on a big stage? Just an idea. P.S. I know what would happen and I’ve shared my opinion about that before on this blog.

    • Matt, my main comment was that I’m curious about why some environmentalists are (or seem) so opposed to commercial endeavors, whether they be timber harvesting, water bottling, or other profit-making enterprises.

      Matt, can you answer my questions? Or ask Mr. Hanson and post his reply here?

    • Hey, Matthew, I’m relating your comments to our ongoing discussion of “how we know things” and “who is an expert.” You stated that “what’s very likely much more time in the field than most anyone on this blog.” as if time in the field were a key criterion for expertise.

      We could discuss who knows most about “destructive logging practices” and I would call up certified auditors for SFI and FSC to give their opinions since I bet they have spent more time on this topic than Dr. Hanson. In the field.
      But they would probably go to a different level of specificity.
      What is “destroyed”? What specific practice, at what frequency and intensity, “destroys” it?

    • There is no “destructive logging” going on in the Sierra Nevada National Forests since 1993. No clearcuts and no old growth logging. WHERE is the “destructive logging” in the Region’s green sale program? I’ve seen Hanson’s fieldwork in person and, sampling for live cambium on burned trees, at DBH, just isn’t a measure of….. anything. Apparently, he also has trouble locating himself on a map, while out in the woods. GPS does that for you, as long as the batteries are strong. (I have my own ‘internal compass’ and expert map-reading skills, myself. I guess map reading isn’t an important skill in an ‘Ologist’s’ curriculum, eh?)

      One key takeaway is that Hanson is losing his court cases and his 15 minutes of fame should be fading off into the woodwork.

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