CBS News asks “Who should be in charge of America’s ancient forests: industry or environmentalists?”

Seneca Jones CEO Todd Payne, with Jeff Glor, at an Oregon tree farm that has been clear-cut for the second time. Photo: CBS NEWS

In the CBS News series “Eye on Earth,” “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Jeff Glor looked at the debate over what to do with America’s ancient forests. You can watch the entire segment here.

I thought the following part of the news feature was particularly interesting, especially in the context of many discussions on this blog.

When asked why clear-cutting, Payne said, “We’re mimicking what Mother Nature’s done for billions of years.”

“But this looks traumatic for a lot of people when they see something like this,” Glor said.

“I actually look at it quite different,” said Payne. “I think it’s somewhat aesthetically pleasing.”

“You think that looks aesthetically pleasing?”

“I do. Maybe I’m somewhat biased, but when I look out, I see sustainability and rejuvenation,” he said.

“Not every company like yours is willing to talk about their story or take us to places like this. Why do you do it?”

“I think we as an industry have not done a very good job historically of telling our story,” Payne replied.

Timber companies have also traditionally used a practice called aerial spraying, in which chemicals are dropped by helicopter to kill any vegetation other than trees used for lumber.

Glor said, “A lot of people are concerned about spraying.”

“Well, I think people are just not informed well on that subject,” Payne replied. “We use it once or twice in a 50-year cycle.”

“It ultimately flows somewhere, though?”

“No, it doesn’t. No, a lot of times this stuff doesn’t flow off the landscape. The product will adhere to the vegetation that it’s targeted for, and stay there.”

Nancy Webster, who lives up the coast in Rockaway Beach, Oregon, is worried those chemicals seep into her drinking water: “This affects the fish, the wildlife, and we are up against large corporations. To even counter it, we need science and legal help, and it’s really difficult for small communities.”

Today, the situation may be reaching a critical point, because the federal government wants to suspend a public review process, which logging companies say needlessly ties them up in court.

Glor asked Payne, “Should there be a public review process when logging takes place on public lands?”

“Well, we have professionals in place in our federal agencies that are managing these lands, and I think we need to let them do that work,” Payne said.

In other words, he wants groups like Oregon Wild to stay away.

Aerial herbicides are sprayed on recently clear-cut land to kill vegetation that would compete with trees. Photo: CBS NEWS

7 thoughts on “CBS News asks “Who should be in charge of America’s ancient forests: industry or environmentalists?””

  1. What are acceptable management practices on a timber company’s privately-owned tree farm should have exceedingly little to do with what are acceptable management practices on public lands dedicated by law to sustaining multiple uses and resource values, ranging from anadromous fisheries habitat to recreation to timber production.

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  2. The eco-folks have always used the “Either you are with us, or against us” strategy. The scaremongering isn’t working well for those folks, these days. Remember, it took the GW Bush Administration 4 years to ‘restore’ the diameter limit back from 20″ to 30″ in the Sierra Nevada National Forests. There is little chance that National Forests in the Sierra Nevada will ever be ‘industrially’ managed like that in the future.

    I guess it all fits into the new propaganda program that misleads the public, while scrambling for donations and the collection of donor personal information.

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  3. Additionally, we see the extreme right-wingers saying “The Forest Service is filled with environmentalists who do nothing but sit on their ass all day”.

    Until we can marginalize the extremes, we’re gonna have problems with how our forests are managed. Only then can we reach consensus and proceed on to compromises. However, we’re still hopelessly stuck in “Collaboration”.

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  4. I agree with Travis, but I don’t agree that what’s sprayed on private lands stays on private lands, and there are other off-site effects, so there are plenty of reasons to regulate forestry on private lands.

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