Clear Cutting May Be Good & Other Convenient Truths

Ecology is not an exact science and the practice of forestry is even one step beyond. We experiment. Some results are good, others not and it may take a lifetime to know. Clear cutting and burning sometimes are exactly the right thing to do. People who visit forests on weekends or even those who spend a lot of time there, but don’t make them grow often have the wrong idea about what makes good forestry.

Succession: Not What We Thought (Not What We Think)
Until the 1970s, the paradigm we accepted was that nature was in balance except where man had disturbed it. Left alone, the story went, old farm fields or disturbed urban areas would return to a balanced natural state. That is how I learned it. We treated ecological succession like old sci-fi treated evolution – as if there was a goal. Read the whole link. Those who know the subject understand that such teleology is a fallacy, but the concept is deeply embedded in popular consciousness. It is what motivates most urban environmentalists, but it is a fundamentally flawed view. It puts an artificial anthropomorphic mold over a dynamic natural system.

Bambi & Capt Planet Give Us the Wrong Idea
Most of us grew watching Bambi and Captain Planet. This and the ranting of Earth First! or PETA extremists still influence our outlook on forestry. Many of us have the image of a big firm moving into a pristine fern valley in a national forest and "mining" the timber, leaving desolation. None of these images is part of the common real life paradigm. Let's talk about the realities.

Ownership
Most forests are privately owned in the East and by the Government in the West. In the East, more than 80% of forest land is privately owned, while in the West, about two-thirds is publicly owned. Forest industry ownership accounts for about 13% of eastern forest land and 4% of western forest land. link.

The last two decades have witnessed a profound change in forest ownership patterns. Big timber and paper firms have been selling out to smaller holders and investors in both north and south. Some people thought this would lead to better management practice. So far, this has not been borne out. The big firms did a good job of managing their forests. It is too soon to tell what the new owners will do. Perhaps as their experience grows the new owners will go as well or better. Ownership leads to good management.

Where Our Wood Comes From
It is a myth that our wood products come from old growth forests, national forests and/or that timber firms are raping virgin forests à la a Bambi cartoon. Most of America’s wood comes from commercial forests. In fact a majority of America’s timber (58%) comes from southern pine forests. Almost all this land is worn out or abandoned farmland. Recently, trees have replaced tobacco as demand for wood increase and that of the evil weed declined. These trees are specifically planted and harvested when they are around 35 years old. This is truly sustainable forestry. Each year, Southern landowners plant more than a billion seedlings. Following annual harvests, 3.3 million acres are reforested. Growing a one pound of wood in a vigorous younger forest removes 1.47 pounds of CO2 dioxide from the atmosphere. These forests also absorb sewerage and make a waste a benefit. This is a real ecological success story.

Forestry IS Sustainable
We can grow trees forever, or as long as any humans are around who want wood. Almost everybody who works in the woods loves the forest. The forest business is by its very nature a long term stewardship operation. A person who knows he has to wait thirty years for the payoff is not in it for the quick profit. Organizations have developed to help landowners meet high ethical and ecological standards. The American Tree Farm system is one such effort. Follow the link and read about. In the U.S., we still have not developed as good a system of wood certification as they have in Europe. Wood is wood, but it might be grown under better or worse management. Consumers who would be willing to pay a little more for certified wood would help ensure the development of better forestry practices.

The Problem is Outside the U.S.
We have a serious problem with tropical hardwood cutting. Ironically, the more we interfere with forestry in the U.S., the more trees are cut in the tropics where regulations are weaker and corruption stronger. To the extent that we can grow our trees to satisfy our demand and that of rapidly developing countries such as China, we will "save" the rain forests.

This is a subject close to my heart and I perceive I am beginning to rant. I look forward to your comments. I hope we can have a good discussion about this.

Posted by Jack at August 14, 2006 11:10 PM
Comments
Comment #175532

Actually, Jack, everything you wrote makes sense to me. (I didn’t check your statistics, but I assume they are accurate.)

My only hot button here is if we start talking about selling off genuine U.S. treasures. When I started reading your article, I thought that was where you were heading. I mean, I want those marvelous redwoods and sequoias in Northern California to keep standing and, also, to be everyone’s.

Posted by: Trent at August 14, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #175536

Jack,

“Many of us have the image o a big firm moving into a pristine fern valley in a national forest and “mining” the timber, leaving desolation. None of these images is part of the common real life paradigm. Let’s talk about the realities.”

That perception was real when there were practices such as clear cutting. Granted, those practices are now in the past, but the scars still exist in areas such as outside of Truckee California, where the replanting of trees was ignored for decades.
I visited a “forest” in Idaho 2 years ago that has only recently (in the last 30 yrs) recovered from the clear cutting of the past. This forest has been left alone, but all the trees are the same size, and virtually all the same species.
Here in Arizona we have what has been described as the “worlds largest stand” of Southwestern Ponderosa pines, but those pines are not the only trees in that forest, it is a diverse mix of other evergreens, including spruce and fir.
We cannot expect to replant only one or two species in areas that are used for logging, and call it a day.

Posted by: Rocky at August 14, 2006 11:55 PM
Comment #175537

Trent

I agree about the big trees. As I wrote in an earlier post, some things should be preserved.

But you know that redwood grows very rapidly and will sprout from stumps (rare for a conifer). If you put in a redwood deck, it is very unlikely that you have taken down a big old tree.

Posted by: Jack at August 14, 2006 11:55 PM
Comment #175541

Jesus, Jack. Do you ever post anything that doesn’t justify business intrests? However nuanced, this is what you do. Who the hell are you?

Posted by: micky at August 15, 2006 12:21 AM
Comment #175540

Jack
Your right on target with your post.
The forestry industry in this county is very responsible for the most part. The notion that they come in and cut everything in sight and then leave the land to be eroded is pure fallacy. There has been tree farms in these parts every sense I can remember. Every time they have cut the trees they have replaced them.
There is about 2,500 acres that belongs to Georgia Pacific over west of here. They take extreme care not to pollute the streams and the river that run though it. In the middle of this land is about 100 acres of old growth woods. Hunting is great around there because Georgia Pacific also manages the land so wildlife can thrive.
I’m trying to get some land cleared so I can plant trees for future harvesting. I may not harvest these trees but my kids and grand kids will be able to.
I’m also trying to get rid of some very dense undergrowth. A certain amount is good and healthy. But when you can’t walk through the woods for the undergrowth that’s not very healthy for the woods in my book. And it aint very good for wildlife either.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2006 12:21 AM
Comment #175539

Rocky

You can expect to have some diverse forests and some growing more or less like crops. Each year the farmer clear cuts his corn. Does that bother anyone?

A clear cut is not pretty and it is not appropriate for all species. But you cannot get most types of pine to grow unless you clear cut (and probably burn). BTW - two or three years after a clear cut is the best time for wildlife such as deer or turkeys. Each of the types of forests, from clear cut to young to old growth has a different wildlife population. There is not a goal. In fact, the old growth tends to have fewer animals because there is less to eat.

There is no doubt that we followed poor forestry practices in the past. The idea was that we would never run out of trees and/or there was nothing we could do about it. But in the last generations we have moved from what was a sort of hunter gathering to agriculture in forestry.

Those clearcuts you have in Arizona are more of a problem because of the arid nature of most of your state. Some places are not suitable to forestry and should probably be left alone. Once you cut some of those mountain island forests in the S. part of your state, you will lose them until the next ice age (which may or may not be soon depending on your take on the climate). I certainly support preserving them.

Your ponderosa pine is mismanaged because the forest service had the leave it alone idea and the environmentalists blocked proper thinning. Now you got beetles and fires worse than you would have and it is becomming a self perpetuating cycle. It might require MORE cutting and replanting.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 12:21 AM
Comment #175542

Micky

I post what I know. Very often myths have grown around subjects like this or more likely people have ideas that were correct 50-100 years ago, but they do not know the changes.

Business is not your enemy. As with anything, there are good and bad. That is the nuance part you have trouble with.

Ron

GP does an excellent job of managing its properties and helping small landowners manage theirs. I have been extremely impressed with their Forest MAP program.

If you have not done so, you might want to google forest MAP and contact your local GP forester. I joined that program, and they came by advised me on roads and plantings, helped me with stream protection and gave me ar really nice forest plan, with maps and photos. All they ask in return is when/if I sell timber I notify them so they can bid on it.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #175543

Thanks for the info Jack. I’ll check it out.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2006 12:32 AM
Comment #175544

Jack,

“Now you got beetles and fires worse than you would have and it is becomming a self perpetuating cycle. It might require MORE cutting and replanting.”

We’ve got beetles and fires because we are in a massive drought, and have been for years, and cutting down the trees won’t bring the snow and rain we need to break that cycle.

Snow Bowl, an area north of Flagstaff and at over 8,000 ft of elevation, normally gets 24 feet of snow a year. This past winter it got 4 feet, and at that only 2 feet in each of 2 storms. Phoenix went for 130 days without measurable rainfall this past winter.

That is why we have the problems you mention.

Posted by: Rocky at August 15, 2006 12:34 AM
Comment #175548

Jack,

In other words, you can cut down and replant every one of the trees in the Arizona Rim forests, but unless we get some serious snowfall for a few years, it just won’t matter.

The beetles are a result of the drought conditions. They are attacking the drought weakened trees.

Posted by: Rocky at August 15, 2006 1:13 AM
Comment #175553
Actually, Jack, everything you wrote makes sense to me. (I didn’t check your statistics, but I assume they are accurate.)

I wouldn’t assume that, Trent. Jack tends to get his statistics from right wing think tanks like the Heinz Center and industry-funded think tanks like the American Forest Foundation.

It is a myth that our wood products come from old growth forests… Most of America’s wood comes from commercial forests.

What stood where the commercial forests are now?

Posted by: American Pundit at August 15, 2006 1:37 AM
Comment #175556

AP, if you’ve got something specific against Jack’s article, please elaborate. The percentages dealing with ownership of forested land apparently came from the USDA, a source I presume you trust.

I’m not naive, AP. I know where Jack’s article could go, politically, but he didn’t really take that step yet, did he?

Posted by: Trent at August 15, 2006 2:06 AM
Comment #175557

Jack,

Good post, but I have to disagree about the idea that old growth forest has less wildlife. I live fairly close to the Cook’s Forest of Pennsylvania, which claims to be the only stand of virgin old-growth forest east of the Mississippi. The numbers, as well as the diversity of species, is stunning and far more than in any other forest I’ve ever seen. It is important that forests like this, which is composed primarily of huge hemlocks that sprouted about the time of Christ on Earth, be preserved for their genetic diversity as well as sanctuaries for the wildlife therein, al good deal of which lives only there.

Any forest, if left alone long enough, will assume the same traits as old growth. I wouldn’t mind seeing older forests that are near this state be preserved as well, but it is important that we do act to ensure that agricultural forestry is capable of meeting our needs. While not as diverse or beautiful as natural forests, they do serve a valuable purpose in the environment, as well as being a viable solution to what some consider to be the problem of human life continuing to exist on poor besieged Gaia.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 15, 2006 2:08 AM
Comment #175569

Jack:
“Ecology is not an exact science”

Jack, ecology is a branch of biology. Rather than say it’s not an exact science, it’s seems more correct to say that it’s an extremely complex science, due to the fact that it is comprised of a great many scientific disciples. It’s kind of like an umbrella stretched over many spokes.
Some of those “spokes” are: chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, cellular biology, botany, entomology, zoology, hydrology, meteorology, pedology, edaphology, geology, oceanography, geography, genetics, statistics, physics and many, many other disciplines — all of which are, in fact, exact sciences.

“and the practice of forestry is even one step beyond.”

That is because it has to do with the biosphere — always a complex subject. But while all forestry is involved with the science of controlling the establishment, health, growth, and composition of forests, within this field there are two kinds of foresters. There are those like you, who are in this field in order to produce timber and other wood products for profit, while others are involved with silviculture — which is generally about looking at the big picture, at the sustainability of forests.
Clear cutting is always bad, because it isn’t about people looking at the big picture ecologically, and is totally unconcerned with sustainability.

“We experiment. Some results are good, others not and it may take a lifetime to know.”

True, but more often than not in the ecological sciences, it doesn’t take a lifetime to know which good and is which bad. Clear cutting is very bad. Strip mining is very bad. Things like Chernobyl are very bad.
Speaking of which, that reminds of what engineer and former member of Ukraine’s parliament, Vladimir Usatenko (who was actually conscripted to work on the Chernobyl sarcophagus at enormous danger to his life) said this year on the 20th anniversary of the meltdown:

For me Chernobyl was a fantastic lesson, a huge school, where I learned to understand people. In the end I understood that in reality, our world is a big supermarket where you can do what you want, if you do not stop to think that the cash register is located near the exit. It’s not in vain that the sarcophagus is in fact shaped like an old shop’s cash register. Everyone should understand that everything will end with a sarcophagus just like this one - and that is the best case scenario - if we continue unthinkingly with our existing, absolutely ineffective ways of using and producing energy.

We might amend that last sentence to say: if we continue unthinkingly with our existing, absolutely ineffective ways of using and producing energy — and viewing all life on Earth — whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, as easily expendable commodities.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 15, 2006 4:15 AM
Comment #175572

I see some in here just like to argue or will argue with anything a conservitive says. If Jack said that rain was always wet, someone would say it’s not wet enough and someone else would blame a neo-con.

Posted by: tomd at August 15, 2006 5:11 AM
Comment #175573

AP—

-“I wouldn’t assume that, Trent. Jack tends to get his statistics from right wing think tanks like the Heinz Center and industry-funded think tanks like the American Forest Foundation.”

So where would you get your statistics from? Would they come from someplace independent, or more likely from left wing sources such as PETA, EarthFirst, Greenpeace, and other such places? I guess the implication is that Jack’s sources are biased because they are “right-wing”, while any source you might use for a similar article would of course be totally free from bias.

The liberal tendency to dismiss a conservative’s information because it doesn’t come from the correct “sources”, while tending to defend these same sources as being totally accurate and unbiased in every way, literally cracks me up!!

It is like someone saying “I know I am right because I know you are wrong, and that’s how I know I am right”.

Jack—

-What do you expect from someone who probably has never taken a forestry class or forestry training in their whole life?

Clearcutting is bad because it is UGLY…it has little to do wth actual facts or observable phenomenon (such as that even aged stands are not always a bad thing). Can’t you get that through your thick, conservative, pro-business, Republican head?

LOL
Oh well, you gotta keep trying, right?

DaveR

Posted by: DaveR at August 15, 2006 5:20 AM
Comment #175579

I Am An Old Man….

On my granfather’s farm { 200 - 300 acers }, we would get up at 5:00 in the morning and milk 20 cows, while granma fixed breakfast { a platter or eggs - bacon - biscuts - gravy } and milk straight from the cow.

After breakfast we would work in the fields untill it was time to milk thoses cows again, then we would have supper, { we always had meat and potatoes and three vegetables }.

In the evening we sat out in the back yard and talked. You could look around and see the trees and see the flowers and hear the birds { and the chickens } { and the dogs }.

Now there is { where the farm use to be }, a shopping center… and you can go to K-Mart and buy a fake tree, and fake flowers, and fake birds; but they have a sign that says [ NO DOGS ALOWED ]

CHARLIE GEORGE

Posted by: Charlie George at August 15, 2006 6:51 AM
Comment #175583

So wrong, so wrong.

“Clear cutting can may be good” - where is your source for this ridiculous statement? Ryannair? Int’l Paper? Or is this the same source that says global warming is not happening.

Next time you start to write something like this, go test the tires: Take a ride through the Olympic peninsula in Washington. Once you leave the Olympic national park, you see the clear cutting. Anyone who has any emotion will start to cry. It is an absolute destruction like war. All the wildlife, all the topsoil, all the fauna is gone. How is that “good”?

If you are so sure the ecology is bunk, then go live beside a coal mine, go live beside a nuclear plant, go live beside a chemical plant - AND - drink the ground water. After a couple of years, when your children start to develop skin diseases and cancers, then tell us how much ecology is nonsense!

Posted by: Acetracy at August 15, 2006 7:06 AM
Comment #175587

Hmmm, you know, I’m not an ecologist or scientist of any sort, but I’ve always been interested in scientific issues, albeit from a layman’s perspective.

HAving said that, I took Jack’s (qualified) statement that clearcutting can sometimes be good at face value. I think the term itself is unfortunate because it does conjure up images of past abuse. But the term’s meaning has changed somewhat.

As written, I really do not find Jack’s article as being out there. He probably does have different views than I do about whether the federal government should retain ownership of National Forests (I don’t include Parks; I think JAck agrees they should remain public property), but as I said earlier, he hasn’t gone there, though maybe he’s laying the groundwork :)

Timber is a renewable resource, and if we are going to use wood, we should do it in a sustainable manner. That’s what I got from Jack’s article.

Posted by: Trent at August 15, 2006 8:00 AM
Comment #175588

Acetracy:

There are examples of bad ecology, and you mentioned a couple of them. But you are blinded by what you can easily see. (Read that sentence a couple times over—it does make sense.)

You can easily see the cooling tower of a nuclear plant—I can see one on clear days from almost 50 miles away. It would be easy to follow the reasoning the the plant is nuclear, 3 Mile Island was nuclear and bad, Chernobyl was a nuclear disaster; therefore nuclear is bad. It would be easy to do that….and intellectually lazy and unsound.

What you DONT see is the massive emissions from cars, buses, homes etc. Each car is a polluter, but in a relatively small way, so that you don’t notice it much. It’s sort of like the cigarette smoker who discreetly tosses a cigarette butt out the window, but would never dream of emptying a full ashtray on the ground. When they’ve tossed their 50th individual cigarette out the window, the’ve essentially emptied a full ashtray—-it just doesn’t appear that way.

Take issue with Jack’s information. Take issue with his sources for statistics. Argue intelligently. But don’t just spout out the intellectually lazy thing stuff. Really seek to understand the issue. Otherwise, you just end up having to ask for forgiveness for having made loose and impetuous statements.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at August 15, 2006 8:03 AM
Comment #175595

Rocky

You cannot do much about the rain and snow. These things are part of the normal environment. But a healthy forest will better resist drought and beetles. The fires also spread less or more depending on the structure of your forest.

You cannot avoid all problems, but you can mitigate their effects.

AP

Did I use the Heinz Center?

Most of the statistics I used here are not particularly controversial. I suppose southern pine might be 54% or 64% of us demand, but that would be natural variation.

Most commercial forests are on land that was once farmland, usually the less fertile parts. In the south, much of the land was formerly occupied by cotton or tobacco. Of course I know what you are driving at. About 200 years ago, forests covered most of the land in the E. U.S. The commercial forest is not as diverse as the natural forest. But unless you plan to give up on civilization, you cannot go back to that all over. A well managed commercial forest can be plenty diverse, a good home for wildlife, an excellent place to preserve water quality and a “sink” for CO2. I am very proud of what I do and what I see my neighbors and big firms like GP doing. We are part of the solution. Many of our critics are part of the problem.

1LT

The old growth has DIFFERENT sorts of wildlife. Wildlife often shelters in old growth but finds food on the edges. We should (and do) have old growth. We also need the other sorts. We do not need to maintain old growth on any particular parcel. Some percentage of our total forest can remain in old growth, but that LOCATION will change. Preservation is appropriate in some places. We should not cut the great redwoods or fill the Grand Canyon. But preservation of everything is not a valid strategy.

Adrienne

I do not disagree if you want to use complex instead of not exact. The point is we cannot always figure out with certainty what will happen. I have seen forestry practices change a lot and there is great diversity among practitioners. I recently toured one of the most beautiful commercial forests I have ever seen. It was managed by a crazy old man, who planted too thin, used the wrong fertilizers and cut pulp too early. He didn’t know enough about the subject to do the right thing. But he did it better. There is significant legitimate debate about forest management. It seems that nature accepts lots of things WE find contradictory. Sites, even near each other as so very different. I don’t know if we will every learn “the truth”. There is too much variation. Maybe we don’t need to know.

Re expendable. Everything comes from somewhere and goes somewhere. If we remember that we can figure out lots of other things.

DaveR

Clear cutting is ugly. You are right that it is hard to explain why it is also necessary sometimes. I find people have trouble understanding that many things have their places, but there place is not everywhere. Actually a clear cut is ugly only for a couple of years. After that the flowers come in and it looks like a meadow. I think it is pretty.

Charlie

The Mall is not part of forestry. Development is a different issue. I will tell you, however, that activists who make good forestry difficult encourage owners to sell to the developers. I saw it happen in a particular case a couple of weeks ago. The owner got so sick of activists harassing him about using biosolids that he put his place up for sale. Maybe they will build a parking lot.

Ace

I try to understand what I am looking at and not cry about what I don’t understand. You are talking aesthetics. That is always subjective. I have been to the Olympic Peninsula and I do believe that it has been over cut, given the nature of the system and what we want to use it for. It is not damaged beyond repair however, or even damaged very much at all.

But if you want the Olympic not cut, you should be really happy that we can grow so much southern pine.

BTW even with the Olympic peninsula, you might want to do a little research. Those trees you see are often Douglas fir. Since some people do not trust my statistics, check for yourself whether or not Douglas fir will grow in the shade of other trees. Now ask yourself this. If Douglas fir will not grow in the shade of other trees, how to do get Douglas fir to grow in a shady old forest? Many of these trees are 300 years old. What does that tell you happened? You might prefer a natural fire. It will not be any more attractive.

When you learn a little more about ecology, you will understand what I am talking about. I have been studying these things all my life. I am sure I have planted more trees than you have, preserved more water and “saved” more wildlife. Don’t try that foolish self righteousness with me. A couple of drives in the woods does not provide you standing.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 8:39 AM
Comment #175597

Maybe this is a case of the clever conservative pulling the wool over the eyes of a guillible liberal, but I don’t think so. We do, though, often see political issues through a glass darkly. On another thread, I said what I think is clearly demonstrable: government investment in R&D can be hugely beneficial. There some said that government should always get out of the way. I take statements such as that as being more purely ideological than factually based.

Posted by: Trent at August 15, 2006 8:43 AM
Comment #175605

Jack,

Sorry if you misunderstood me, I wasn’t arguing that everything should be preserved. I think we should be conscious about preserving our woodlands, however. Where I get into disagreements is with the degree. I once heard a joke that went like this. What’s the difference between a developer and an environmentalist? A developer wants to build a house in the forest, an environmentalist already has a house in the forest.

This illustrates to me one of the problems I have with many environmentalists. They simply refuse to acknowledge humanity as part of the environment. I sometimes think they would prefer for the human race to go extinct. We need to remember that human beings have needs too. For example, the environmental lobby has seen to it that no new power plants or oil refineries have been built since the 1970s. California has blackout issues because the demand for power exceeds their supply. Building new plants, especially with the improvements we’ve made in eco-friendly technology, could solve these problems with minimal impact on the environment. Instead, we have blackouts in the richest nation on earth. Environmentalism is a good thing to a degree, I just can’t stand it when our standard of living is dumped down the gutter because of litiguous environmentalists.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 15, 2006 9:50 AM
Comment #175610

In most humans, the heart is bigger that the eyes. That argument can be made figuratively as well. It’s terrible to drive past a segment of clear cut acreage. It’s ugly, and unnatural looking. It’s good that we can still see things in this light.

What is equally ugly, and heartbreaking is to see homes being swept away by floods, hurricanes, shaken apart by earthquakes, or burned in house fires.

If we can’t stomach the temporary lack of beauty in nature in order to house ourselves, we might as well begin to look for nice caves to live in.

Don’t get me wrong. Imagining a forest has been clearcut just so Mr. Do-it-yourself’s can destroy twice as much lumber as needed to build crappy picnic tables, yeah, that would bother me. But I see more of a real need for it in building housing, and communities.

Posted by: DOC at August 15, 2006 10:05 AM
Comment #175613

Jack - I’d be interested in the facts behind your comments regarding the problem being outside the U.S. Quite honestly it sounds as if
you suggest that the U.S. inability to meet the demand for lumber in China is actually the cause for the devastation of the rainforrest.

Help me.

Posted by: DOC at August 15, 2006 10:11 AM
Comment #175616

I am surprised by the ignorance expressed in some of the comments to this article. Fires are a natural part of of the life cycle of many forests and chap. There are many trees and plants which must pass through a fire cycle to allow for germination. Just Google “forest fires germination” for examples. Suppression of naturally occuring fires, mostly to prevent destruction of inappropriately sited dwellings leads to an overabundance of fuel once a fire does occur.

Posted by: Doug at August 15, 2006 10:27 AM
Comment #175617

One of the problems I have with capitalism is that I wonder where that logic eventually will take us. People need houses, power, cars, stores, roads, etc. etc., and where there is demand, someone will provide supply. But no one wants the entire country paved, or to have every mountain ridge dotted by condos. Population growth in this country, and in the industrialized nations, is not as severe as in third world countries, but still, we have an ever-increasing need for space and energy. Capitalism as we practice it assumes ever increasing demand, of one sort or another. I’m really not trying to bait anyone here. Where do we end up? Are visions of sustainable, zero-growth yet dynamic communities just pie in the sky? And what about the rest of the world? In America we consume such a huge percentage of the world’s finite resources; how long are we going to be able to pull that off?

I strongly support preserving as public land our nation’s treasures, and by that, I include aesthetic treasures. I worry about the constant encroachment of the sheer ugliness of most of our cities. What do we do? Controlling the world’s population is essential, of course, but, good grief, is there any hope we will?

Where do we end up?

The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon, The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers, For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

—-Wordsworth

Posted by: Trent at August 15, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #175622

DOC

I did not mean it to be as sweeping and it evidently sounded to you. The basic principle is easy. A country like China cannot satisfy its domestic demand for timber with its own resources. They will get it somewhere and they have not exhibited a particularly ethical business culture, i.e. they won’t be stopped if the wood comes from fragile environments.. The more wood that is produced in sustainable ways that is on the market, the lower the overall price for wood and the less incentive people have to cut other forests, including rain forests.

The simple rule that everything comes from somewhere applies. The wood that doesn’t come from our commercial forests comes from some other forest. It might be other well run commercial forests in South America or Australia, or it might be ripped out of a rain forest.

BTW – if you don’t use lumber, you can use something else, such as cement or plastic. Both of these products are a lot more harmful to the environment. Cement production is a significant user of energy and a major source of CO2.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 11:23 AM
Comment #175628

Trent,

A very valid question. I would imagine that we’ll have to seek our fortunes in the stars, that or begin a policy of draconian birth control etc. On the other hand, Mother Nature seems to have ways of dealing with us on her own. New super-diseases could very well replace the smallpox etc of old. AIDS is already decimating the populations of Africa and some parts of Asia. Starvation also seems to still be at work in many parts of the world. The Earth will survive even if we nuke it to the bedrock. Whether we will remains to be seen.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 15, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #175630

Jack - Thanks. Sounds like simple economics.

The factor that is missing that throws it off for me is greed. You maintain that the more “we” produce for China, the less they will want from South America. Whereas, I would suspect that China would always need as just as much as was offered to them.

If my suspicion is true, then we can’t preserve any rainforest by increasing production, we can only prevent it from being consumed more quickly by not reducing production.

Posted by: DOC at August 15, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #175631

Jack - And Yes, I do appreciate the humor behind the “greedy-communist” oxymoron.

Posted by: DOC at August 15, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #175632

1LT B
Old growth doesn’t have as much undergrowth as younger stands. The wild life that needs this type of undergrowth for food and/or protection won’t do as well in old growth.
But to much undergrowth isn’t healthy either. It chokes out the seedling trees need to sustain the woods. Nature has used fire as a means to control this sense the beginning of time. Man has also used fire in a means to control this. The difference is that nature will let the whole woods burn. Man uses controlled burns to keep the woods from burning down too.
In areas that have had controlled burns as the undergrowth returns wildlife is abundant. When undergrowth gets to dense wildlife moves on to less dense areas.
I like to walk through old growth woods. I also like to walk through younger growth woods. Both have their own beauty.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 15, 2006 12:08 PM
Comment #175641

Jack,
I see with some of the commentary, you are subject to the liberal mantra: “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” John Stossel reported basically the same facts and was assailed by environmental groups that refused to believe that we have more forest today than 50 years ago.

American Pundit: “What stood where the commercial forests are now?” In the early days of our nation, farmers clear cut forests to plant crops. As evil business armed with new technology increased the productivity of farms, the previously clear cut land was re-forested. Now we have cheaper food and more trees. Curses!!

Posted by: Mike at August 15, 2006 12:56 PM
Comment #175653

Mike
Right. There is definitely more forest cover in the E. U.S. than there was in my youth. I understand that it is not a very big difference. But if you look at photos from 1920 or even Civil War photos, you see that there were fewer trees back then.

We do have a bigger problem with forest fragmention and western forests have shrunk. This is due to development, however, not forestry or farming.

AP

BTW - your wasteful guy with the Bronco is the kind of guy responsible for much of the fragmentations. Good that we stopped him driving those 100 miles a day.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #175656

Clear CUTTING on National Forests ARE NOT A PRACTICE OF THE PAST!!!
come up to the Northwest and do a flyover
Oregon is completly denuded, and even retired loggers are now regretting their part in the devestation
Washington has many areas that have been and are clear cut
Now there is all this BS about the food that is created during the new growth
A few points that are neglected in that discussion
1) that new growth is very short term
2) Animals using that new growth (that is touted as attracting animals in order to justify Clear Cutting) are “discouraged” — as that “new growth” is the capitol investment that the timber industry is relying on for future profits — Just as farmers don’t like deer eating their crops, neither do the Tree-farmers
3) Once the replanted (single species, closly spaced, single aged corn-row planted seedlings) area has grown more than 5 years, the resulting “farm” (it is no longer anything remotely resembling a “forest”) is so densely packed that no sunlight penetrates the farm floor, resulting in NO GROWTH at ground level,
No Growth, no animals, no birds and NO RECREATION as well, as trying to even pass thru one of these farms is IMPOSSIBLE.
Eventually there will be some thinning, but it is too late by then
The ground is brown, (needles cover everything and there is no green growth) and dead and a bunch of 3-6” stumps show where the “extra wood” used to grow.

In the Northwest we have (had) Old Growth Douglas Fir — the healthy stands we once had cannot be duplicated by the replanted farms the timber industry tries to foist off on us
Research by the Universities up here has shown that HEALTHY Douglas Fir forests require:
DIVERSITY
ORGANIZMS IN THE GROUND THAT ARE DESTROYED BY THE HEAVY EQUIPMENT UTILIZED DURING CLEAR CUTTING
THOSE ORGANIZMS ARE NOT DESTROYED DURING A FIRE
A CLEAR CUT IS NOT THE SAME AS A FIRE — IT IS MANY TIMES MORE DESTRUCTIVE THAN A FIRE, AND ORGANIC MATERIAL NEEDED FOR REGENERATION IS NOT LEFT TO REENTER THE SOIL
SOOOOOOO
BS TO ALL THE PRO-CLEARCUT FANS
Clearcutting may be fine if all you want is tree-farms that are good for NOTHING more than generating timber (actually there are many tree farms that generate only wood pulp for paper)
Clear Cuts are NOT appropriate if you want
Wildlife
Recreation
Scenic Recreation
Hunting
Fishing
Hiking
or even 4-Wheeling (unless you enjoy limiting your wheeling to logging roads, and dodging behemoth off-road logging trucks

Posted by: Russ at August 15, 2006 2:14 PM
Comment #175661

This may be a stupid question, and I’m sure the answer is cost, but why do we rely on wood for so much construction? Steel and concrete are readily available, much more structurally sound and last significantly longer. I imagine there would be a significant reduction in insurance claims, especially after storms, if homes were built using the stronger materials. I know blocky, modern-looking houses are less attractive than traditional woodframe homes, but at what cost? Seems like if we remove specific business interests from the equation the answers become a little more clear. And that doesn’t mean the answer is inherently anti-business, as I’m sure Nucor would love the increased sales that International Paper would lament.

Posted by: David S at August 15, 2006 2:28 PM
Comment #175662

I LOVE IT
Relying on “John Stossel” to tell the “complete story” when he is guilty of not telling the whole truth in 99% of his reports!!

“John Stossel reported basically the same facts and was assailed by environmental groups that refused to believe that we have more forest today than 50 years ago. “


Again, as I pointed out before — we have more TREES than 50 years ago (note the time line they use)
However we DO NOT HAVE MORE FOREST
Unless you count TREE FARMS that are devoid of any actual life as “Forest”
(talk about can’t see the Forest for the Trees)
Also how’s about comparing TRUE Forests with what we had 200 Years ago?????
No takers??
Heck
As long as we REQUIRE you to compare Apples to Apples
How much TRUE Forest remains??
very little — over 98% has been lost

Regarding the little misleading comment that development has been responsible for this “not forestry”
Also untrue
The land was first cut by the timber industry
(and we have had a HUGE problem with this out west)
They were given tax breaks to keep this land in “Timber” but then sold if off as 5 acre “Timber Lots” to developers to have it developed — without having to pay back the tax breaks — because everyone knew that it was not being kept in “Timber”
Jack — as usual your perspective is very local and limited, it would be nice if you got some “real life” experience outside your own little timber lot.

Posted by: Russ at August 15, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #175664

Jack re: clear cutting
“You are right that it is hard to explain why it is also necessary sometimes.”

It’s never truly necessary to clear cut an entire forest. While our need for wood is understandable and necessary, we simply have to be more careful about how we harvest wood. Good foresters can still make a very good profit and meet the demand, while still concerning themselves with sustainability. Clear cutting is just greed and a complete disrespect toward the entire ecosystem, in my opinion.

“I find people have trouble understanding that many things have their places, but there place is not everywhere. Actually a clear cut is ugly only for a couple of years. After that the flowers come in and it looks like a meadow. I think it is pretty.”

It might look pretty as a meadow, but the trouble is, it is out of balance, because it is no longer a forest.

1LT B:
“California has blackout issues because the demand for power exceeds their supply.”

No. You are wrong here. That was never the problem, and not why we’ve had blackouts. California’s energy problems are due to a lot of deregulation, and out-of-state private energy contracts. Bad deals were brokered years ago by a Republican governor and a screwed up legislature that actually allowed this to take place. Once the state lost control, we left ourselves wide open to being taken advantage of when it comes to our needs, the costs, and the supply. As I’m sure you’re aware, Enron took the opportunity to rob us blind several years ago (Bush did nothing to try to stop it), and effectively bankrupted the state as a result. Unfortunately, California still hasn’t recovered from this.

Trent, I love Wordsworth, and that happens to be one of my favorites of his! It’s a poem both beautiful, and full of truth.

Ron Brown, very good post.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 15, 2006 2:38 PM
Comment #175667

Jack
Instead of holing up in your Eastern Ivory Tower (no matter how many pine boughs you line it with)
and come out West where the current adminstration, together with your “buddies” in the extraction industries are TOTALLY RAPEING the land??
The IRONY??
In many of the more rural Western States (read RED) that voted for BUSH — the BUSH administration is responsible for the industries being allowed to go onto PRIVATE LANDS and DESTROY PRIVATE ranches, farms and businesses in order to extract gas and oil, AND POLLUTE the ground water doing it!!!!
The BUSH administration wants to make sure NONE of those “PESKY” environmental laws get in the way of his BUDDIES getting their $$$$$$$
BUT SOMEBODY GETS TO PAY!!!!!
YOUR WELL IS SPOILED, IT IS THE PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL THAT HAS TO PAY TO GET CLEAN WATER
THE PASTURE IS RUINED — IT IS THE PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL THAT HAS THEIR LIVELYHOOD DESTROYED — CANNOT PAY FOR FEED THAT THEY PREVIOUSLY GREW

THE INDUSTRIES THAT CAUSE THE DAMAGE ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY — HEAVEN FORBID, IT MIGHT REDUCE THEIR PROFIT, BUT SOMEBODY HAS TO PAY, MIGHT AS WELL BE THE LITTLE GUY, AS HE HAS NO STATUS WITH BUSH AND CRONIES
YOU THOUGHT HIS LITTLE COMMENT ABOUT THE ULTRA-WEALTHY NOT BEING THE ELITE, BUT BEING HIS “BASE” WAS A JOKE??????
GET REAL JACK

OUT WEST HE IS GETTING AWAY WITH HIS CRIMES BECAUSE FOR MOST OF THE COUNTRY IT IS “OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND”
WELL YOU EASTERNERS (AND EVEN MID-WESTERNERS) ARE OUT OF YOUR MINDS!!!!!
THERE ARE MANY RANCHERS, HUNTERS AND LANDOWNERS OUT WEST THAT ARE REGRETTING THEIR VOTE FOR BUSHIE NOW!! — BUT TOOOOOOOO LATE!!!!

Posted by: Russ at August 15, 2006 2:47 PM
Comment #175670

Notice my last rant did not tie into the forestry bit, so here goes
This administration LOVES industry, not the little guy.
The attack on our Forests is only just a part of the whole picture
It is called EXTRACTION industries

For the Forests his little ploy was called the “Healthy Forest Inititive”
Yea
How to EXPLOIT Healthy Forests while lieing to the American People that it was “only” to remove “unhealthy” trees!!!
What A JOKE!!!
Anywho
He has also attempted to open up NATIONAL PARKS to
Logging
Mining
Gas/Oil Extraction

So, to all of you who think there should be some limit, and that the National Parks and Monuments should be off-limits
Please fire off a letter to your IDIOT-IN-CHIEF and clue in this clueless clown that you do not support him in this

and I hope you don’t hold your breath waiting for a response (unless you include a check for at least 10 million bucks to demonstrate that you are truely “one of his base”)

Posted by: Russ at August 15, 2006 2:57 PM
Comment #175679

Jack

It seems to me that the only controversy is in publicly managed lands. Private timber farms can be left to those who own them to manage them for sustainable (or short-term if that be the preference) profit. There is a constant push by the timber industry to log in places currently off limits. Some of these wildernesses have been around for thousands of years. They are a joy to visit and a source of soul-feeding recreation for those who appreciate nature.

It would be unfortunate to confuse these issues for political leverage.

Posted by: mental wimp at August 15, 2006 4:13 PM
Comment #175687

Russ

A forest is a living and changing thing. Douglas fir will NOT regenerate under Douglas fir. If you want a forest of hardwoods and/or hemlock you can keep out fires and not cut. It seems you are willing to burn. You could (if you want) burn after a cut. That is sometimes a good management procedure. But I don’t think you are really interested in good management procedures.

Re tree farms, they are full of wildlife. I see it every time I visit. I have scores of deer, wild turkey, coyotes, quail, various types of turtles and snakes. We evidently even have a bear (although the hunters hope to kill him soon). So except for all sorts of wildlife, you are right that nothing lives there.

I bet you spend a lot of time in the woods, but do not actually see them. I have been to forests in most of the U.S. We might disagree, but if one of us is ignorant, it is not me.

BTW - I think the healthy forest initiative is good policy. I will point out, however, that it is AGAINST my economic interests. My trees would become more valuable if logging on national forests was stopped. But then those forests would less healthy. I can see that from the high point of my ivory tower. You are probably too low down to understand the dynamic interactions.

You know that National Parks and Mounments are off limits. We can use national forests. But mangement is necessary in parks too. Read about the Isle Royale National Park and the management required to maintain a healthy wolf population. “Preservation” would have wiped them out.

David S

Wood is easy to work with and often less expensive than steel or concrete. It is a better natural insulator AND it has a much more benign effect on the environment. There are places where concrete and steel are appropriate. Remember, however, that a wooden building can last 100s of years. Of course so can a concrete or steel one. But after 100s of years, you will probably want major changes anyway. So the concrete building WILL last longer, but you probably won’t want it.

Adrienne

You do not cut the whole forest. Some parts of the land are in old forest, some in new and some are in transition. This is true for the totality at any time. The particular tract changes. Parts of my land were cut in 2003. They now have trees that are about eight feet tall. If you come back in a couple years, all you will see is a young healthy forest. In about 30 years, it will be a mature forest with very large trees. Eventually (probably after I am dead) it will be cut again. It works well. BTW - some parts of the forest are never cut. They protect the streams etc.

Mental

Some places should be preserved. Others should be used in rotation. As I wrote above, it would be better for me economically if logging in national forests was banned. But that would be wrong. We need a multiple use. Preservation is not necessarily better than wise use and preservation just for its own sake is not appropriate.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 4:46 PM
Comment #175726

Nature is emergent, which is sometimes mistaken (not without reason) for intelligence. What it does, it does all at once, in a massively parallel system.

Our brains are good at processing simple patterns and serial, sequenced information, but they are terrible at understanding nature because different parts of it interact with others to produce outcomes not immediately obvious from the rules.

Jack speaks of the uncertainty of the science as if it means it favors him. However, the problem comes when you confuse the reactions of one of man’s simplified cultivated forests, with one of a much more complex, much more interlocked old growth forest. It also becomes a problem when any forest is clear cut in a region where they play an emergent role in shaping events.

In my neck of the woods (at least what wood remain) Floods are coming much faster and more frequently because of the speed with which runoff flows from lands cleared of their trees The water table drops, causes subsidence. The Heat Island effect takes off, because of added concrete and buildings, etc.

This is what we’re running into with environmental science. More and more, we’re finding that nature does not work in deterministic ways. That is not to say there aren’t large factors. We just don’t know all the implications.

Global Warming, as it proceeds, will be like that. In some places, more snow will fall, as greater heat puts greater water vapor into air moving North, and heightened temperatures allow the air to be wet enough to create snow In some places it will dry out the air, in others make it more wet, and in between, it will cause the weather to become more chaotic, more off and on. Droughts and heatwaves will become worse, while rainstorms and flooding becomes more serious. And wouldn’t you know it, right now people are clear-cutting in my neighborhood, and developing in places which flooded badly during Allison.

Like the lady in Jurassic Park said: We’ve never had control, that’s the illusion. We can pump gasses into the atmosphere in abundance, but we can’t anticipate all the problems with near enough deterministic accuracy to enable us to manage nature like we would one of our machines.

It’s something like, we can control the stick that we poke the ape with, but we can’t control the Gorilla once it breaks free and tries to make a pancake out of us. Well, we’re poking nature with a number of sticks, and the old girl is beginning to react, and she’s much greater a threat to us when she’s pissed than some primate (The above paragraph is merely metaphorical, not meant to imply actual intelligence, and personify nature in the interests of portraying its complexities)

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 15, 2006 7:58 PM
Comment #175729

That’s very poetic, Stephen, and of course you are right. Extremely complex systems contain a large degree of unpredictability, and we’re not gods. It’s that damn butterfly in Brazil, don’t you know. However, sliding from that to the implied assertion that clear cutting is always deterimental is not logical. Making assertions like that means you are occupying the omniscient space you rightfully say we cannot inhabit.

On this topic, I choose to listen to the foresting experts. The fact is, clearcutting is sometimes good practice, according to those who’ve studied the field.

Many of you are getting stuck in a trap. Argue against clearcutting in specific areas, or argue specifically that clearcutting here or there had bad effects, and you could have a case. But when you simply declare all forms of the practice are bad, you make it easy for your opponents. At least cite something besides anecdotal evidence.

Posted by: Trent at August 15, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #175735

Stephen

A very eloquent rebuttal of what?

You oppose good forestry practices?

In your neck of the woods (Texas, right?) you have not had a natural old growth forest for about 150 years. Nobody has cut them down since that time because there were none left to cut. You have secondary growth on some old fields and you have scrub. A well-managed forest will absorb more water than either of these things. If you have a flood problem, it does not result from forestry.

Your concrete and development is not part of forestry. I too dislike sprawl. That is one reason I am glad that gas prices are going up and people are encouraged to commute shorter distances.

Global warming? My trees remove more than a pound of CO2 for every pound they grow. A young forest absorbs more CO2 than an old forest, BTW. It grows faster and turns more CO2 into fiber.

Most of the land my trees grow on used to grow tobacco or were used as pasture. Now it grows trees that help build our houses. Now it grows trees so that you don’t need to cut old growth someplace else.

So what exactly is it you don’t like? I know that several poster seem to be offended, but I really cannot figure out why? Do you just prefer problems to solutions? Do you merely want to blame and curse the darkness, rather than try to do something positive?

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 8:37 PM
Comment #175746
This and the ranting of Earth First! or PETA extremists still influence our outlook on forestry.

PETA? Jack I suppose the invoking of PETA’s name to start your post, is similar to the right wing invocation of the ACLU in attempts to trivialize any opposition viewpoint. However I congratulate you, normally your posts are simply a regurgitation of some right wing web posting or article. From reading your links, the misinformation you wrote in this post seems to come entirely from yourself

Ecology is not an exact science and the practice of forestry is even one step beyond. We experiment. Some results are good, others not and it may take a lifetime to know. Clear cutting and burning sometimes are exactly the right thing to do.

While burning at times is recommended, it does not achieve the intensity or the dimension in all cases necessary to ensure the rejuvenation or health of forests. In the case of clear cutting, it should not ever be considered an option in forest management. As studied and reported in an USDA report on agri-forestry:

The choice among cutting methods
should be dependent on the esthetic and regeneration
goals of the landowner. Although commercial
clearcutting had an initially higher harvested
volume, low quality of residual trees and
depressed stand growth rates indicate it is not a
viable option for long-term forest management.

Silvicultural systems—Alternatives to clearcutting, including uneven-aged systems
and some even-aged systems, and the use of intermediate treatments (thinning and
pruning, for example), may reduce or mitigate the adverse effects of large, even-aged
clearcuts on forest fragmentation and help to maintain or promote the development of
certain stand characteristics found in old-growth forests. Using longer “rotations” or
cutting cycles (the number of years between final harvests for even-aged management,
or the age of the oldest tree for uneven-aged management) also could help to
promote desired stand conditions by allowing timber stands more time to undergo
natural stand development processes.

These trees are specifically planted and harvested when they are around 35 years old. This is truly sustainable forestry…A person who knows he has to wait thirty years for the payoff is not in it for the quick profit.

While trees are normally harvested after 30 years, forests are not considered mature for at least a hundred years. Nor are they considered old growth until they are somewhere between 150 and 250 years old. The ecosystem of an old growth forest is unique and worth preserving. Yet unfortunately, old growth forests are the most desirable for timber.

We have a serious problem with tropical hardwood cutting. Ironically, the more we interfere with forestry in the U.S., the more trees are cut in the tropics where regulations are weaker and corruption stronger.

The last two decades have witnessed a profound change in forest ownership patterns. Big timber and paper firms have been selling out to smaller holders.

The above two statements are true, what you neglected to mention is that those big timber companies and mills are the one’s who have been investing in the countries in the tropics. They have been investing in them in order to access the desirable old growth trees that are available there. The United States consume 30% of all forest products produced every year. While agri-forestry is an important component of forest management, it is the attack and attrition of old growth forests that must be addressed here in the U.S. and abroad.

Posted by: Cube at August 15, 2006 9:26 PM
Comment #175747
Clear Cutting May Be Good & Other Convenient Truths

Jack, the preceding blockquote is the title of your blogpost, is it not? Where is your support for this supposed “truth”? The closest you’ve come to providing any support is where you say

You are right that it is hard to explain why it is also necessary sometimes.

So, bring ‘em on… Let’s see you support this “convenient truth”… There is no doubt in my mind it is hard to explain, expecially since it isn’t necessary to clear-cut sometimes, but let’s see you try.

Here’s what I find offensive about this and probably 80% of the rest of the stuff you post: you use specious logic and hyperbolic extrapolation to “support” what you call “truth”. I imagine this is how you came up with your message (note, I am criticizing the message, not the messenger):

1. Evolution is good.
2. Succession is evolution.
3. Logging speeds up succession.
4. Clear-cutting is logging.
5. Therefore, clear-cutting may be good.

Posted by: Crazy_joe_divola at August 15, 2006 9:39 PM
Comment #175751

Cube

My “misinformation” comes from my own experience and those of the tree farmers around me. We might be wrong, but it seems to work. Your experience on your tree farm may be different.

We do not have any old growth timber in the E. U.S. if we use the 250 year standard. Most trees will not survive that long. Fires, beetles etc will get them. A loblolly pine can live to be around 250, but most will start to hollow out at around 90 years old. It is sort of like a person. He might live to be 100, but he starts to decline in vigor at around 40.

Since forestry is not an exact science, there is much disagreement about when to harvest. If you are looking at production of wood fiber, you would never leave your pine trees more than 50 years in the south. At about 35 they start to slow a lot. Harwood rotation is slower for most species.

If you clearcut, you don’t have any residual trees. In fact one of the big advantages to clear cutting is that you replant with better genetic stock. I have trees planted just a couple years ago that are about seven feet high and they have not even registered their fall growth spurt yet. It is a good site and the last couple years have had good weather, but this is still a really good result. The stand is doing fine.

Old growth gives you more timber per tree but not more per acre/year. This is how ownership of land makes a difference.

Timber firms have sold off their land because it was an undervalued asset. They can get many of the same benefits in cooperation with landowners. We take the risk (and get the pleasure) of growing the trees. Some fiber production is moving overseas, but not particularly to tropical rain forests. Our own American loblolly pines grow better in places like Brazil or Australia. We have trouble competing with them and if you have the choice of owning a tree farm in Virginia versus in Rio Grande do Sul, you will get a better return in Brazil. But these farms in Brazil are similar to ours. It is warmer, so the trees grow faster and our loblollies seem to like their new homes better. Nothing really wrong with that, except we make less money because of the competition.

Re burning. It depends. A lot of people around where I am burn clear cuts. One family has been burning their woods every three years. According to the theory, they are nuts, but the trees are very healthy and there is a lot of wildlife.

Re the U.S. consuming forest products, we also produce a lot. Our southern pines make up around 15% of the timber used in the world. Better methods and better genetic stock will make it even better.

I am not disagreeing with you and I don’t perceive you are disagreeing with me. I hope we are just exchanging ideas. Some of practices seem contradictory, but lots of different methods seem to work if applied diligently.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 10:37 PM
Comment #175753

Crazy joe

Answer please

Can species such as most pines, douglas fir, or yellow popular grow in the shade of the forest of their own species? No they can’t.

You cannot grow these sorts of trees in the shade. Therefore if you want forests of pine, fir, poplar etc can you grow them w/o clear cutting? No you can’t, unless you want to burn your forests to the ground.

If that is your policy, fine. Some people think we have no business in nature. That is a value judgement and an expression of faith. If you hold with that, I cannot argue with it. It is unprovable. What I can tell you is that proper forest management that includes clear cutting is sustainable. Our experience shows that. My personal experience shows that.

Different species require different management. If you are growing beech or maple, you do not clear cut. If you want pine or fir, you do. I know it is very hard to understand, but different methods are required for different goals.

I assume you can tell a pine from a spruce or a hemlock, but I also figure you live in an urban area and do not own a forest, right?

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 10:48 PM
Comment #175757

Jack, I have good news for you. Clear cutting trees is not a practice that is in danger. It’s still on the whole done too much, not too little. Sustainability requires balance, and our consumption is still much larger than what we can replace or what is good for the environment.

I understand getting a loan can be a good thing sometimes, but that doesn’t translate into “borrowing money is great thing to do most of the time”. You are overstating your case. To reach sustainability we need less and smarter clear cutting, not more.

Posted by: Max at August 15, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #175758

This 1998 report to Congress appears to be fair and balanced. It discusses unflinchingly the abuses of clearcutting, the history of the controversy, and current thought, which is that clearcutting in national forests should be allowed only when it is determined to be the optimal method (I’m paraphrasing from memory; please read it yourselves) for forest management.

Posted by: Trent at August 15, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #175760

Max

I am not advocating more clear cutting. I am just saying that it is a valid and useful management method. As I explained several times, it all depends on the species you are trying to encourage. If you selectively cut long enough you will end up with runt trees (since you are taking the best ones) and with no pines, d fir, popular etc.

We have exactly that problem with some older farm forests. It is kind of a negative natural selection.

Posted by: Jack at August 15, 2006 11:10 PM
Comment #175764

David S

This may be a stupid question, and I’m sure the answer is cost, but why do we rely on wood for so much construction? Steel and concrete are readily available, much more structurally sound and last significantly longer.

No it aint a stupid question and I’ve asked it myself. I don’t really know about concrete construction but steel really isn’t much more expensive that wood.
My daughter is building a steel frame house. The cost of is is only $1,500 more that a wood frame.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 16, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #175779

Ron Brown,

Valid point about burning. One issue, though. Nature doesn’t let the whole forest burn. In old growth, the trees are far larger, but they’re more widely spaced and the limbs begin far higher on the trunk. This, combined with the lesser amounts of underbrush, means that fires are beneficial and typically don’t harm the trees, whose bark is tough enough to resist the fires. The “Bambi” syndrome of stopping every fire has created too much undergrowth and allowed the buildup of large amounts of dead wood. When all of this goes up, it does so in a way that burns not only the underbrush but destroys the trees as well.

Fire is a natural phenomenon and can be beneficial to forests. It renews the soil and clears areas for new trees. Some pines will not drop their cones until a fire occurs. The problem has been human intervention into a system that, either by intelligent design or evolution, has worked for millions of years.

Jack,

I generally agree with your post, but once again, you’re slightly off on a few details. There is indeed old growth forest in the east, the Cook’s Forest that I mentioned. It is well over 250 years old.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 16, 2006 2:12 AM
Comment #175794

tomd—

-“I see some in here just like to argue or will argue with anything a conservitive says. If Jack said that rain was always wet, someone would say it’s not wet enough and someone else would blame a neo-con.”

NOW THAT’S FUNNY…and absolutely true.

Thanks for the laugh, even though I know you meant it seriously.

DaveR

Posted by: DaveR at August 16, 2006 4:52 AM
Comment #175795

Mike—

-“I see with some of the commentary, you are subject to the liberal mantra: “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.””

Good quote. That your’s? I like it. If it isn’t a Mike original, whose quote is it?

Goes hand in hand with what I said about how only liberal sources are to be given any credence.

Posted by: DaveR at August 16, 2006 5:01 AM
Comment #175802

Kinda off-topic, but since I don’t know a thing about forestry I thought I’d throw this out there and see what people thought:

Hemp. Houses, food, fuel and too many other uses to really name…and hell, it doesn’t even get anyone high. Requires little in the way of pesticides and allows farmers a greater number of choices for their rotational crop periods; both of these aspects are healthier for people and the land. Produces more usable material than traditional forestry does as well over the same period of time.

Probably more of a thread all its own, but neither of the major parties will dare touch it due to the negative stigma attached to it. Politics will trump truth and common sense every time. Oh well, like I said, thought I’d just throw this out there and see what bites.

Posted by: Liberal Demon at August 16, 2006 8:09 AM
Comment #175807

Jack-
I’m aware of the age of the trees. My guess is that they’re likely no more than a century old, if that. The thing here is, the clearcutting is not of some tree farm (I don’t disagree with that approach if it’s managed well, actually), but instead of greenery that helps to keep things cool and the scenery picturesque. You must also take into account that this is Bayou country, which is a polite word for swamp.

When it’s dry here, it’s dry, but when it rains, it typically pours, inches at a time. If it’s pouring down concrete and cleared fields as opposed to taking a route through the forests.

I think you picked the wrong title and wrote the wrong intro, and that cued people to think of the rest of your piece in those terms. What you write is emergent in its meaning, as a forest is emergent in its behavior. When you start off with a politicized challenge on issues like this, you obscure your sensible points about silviculture and its benefits. You’re better off starting with the tone you intend to write the rest of the piece with.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 16, 2006 8:54 AM
Comment #175813

Jack
once again, come out West
You are applying generalities to your Eastern experience
1) Tree Farms in the west are diversity deserts
small crowded thin trees, harvested every 60 years
2) The Healthy Forest Initiative, — you may be what it’s PUBLISHED PR PURPOSE is NOT THE INITIATIVE AND HOW IT IS ACTUALLY BE IMPLEMENTED
It has been used to open up roadless, oldgrowth timber that has not been (and is not being) threatened by fire, flood, famine nor vermin
AND it closes off any public debate on the sales
It is a giveaway of the Western Forests!!
WAKE UP
The U.S. does not stop at the Rocky Mountains anymore!!!

Posted by: Russ at August 16, 2006 9:31 AM
Comment #175816

1LT

No old forests of significant size. Yes, there are cove forests that were never cut. But even some of these are less old than you think. I recall a cove forest of “ancient” white pines that turned out to be about 90 years old. If dug into the dirt, you found the remaining of the plowing level of the old farm.

Liberal D

You can grow lots of things for fiber, including hemp. Some things are easier or better than others.

Stephen

I wrote the title to be provocative AND because that is where the misunderstanding lies. You see the vehement response. Many people believe in selective cutting only or no cutting at all. Those people are ill informed or impractical. I need to get their attention.

We agree (I bet) on not cutting some forests especially in watersheds or swamps. I wrote a whole piece re letting large areas of New Orleans revert to nature. Some places can be properly used; others are better preserved.

Russ

I have been out west. I have been to every state in the continental U.S. except Missouri (I am not sure how I always miss that one). I was once a resident of Spokane, WA. My official home leave place is Arizona. There have been and continue to be abuses and mistakes in forest management. I am not defending the mistakes. But some of what appears to tourists as terrible destruction is actually good management.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 9:48 AM
Comment #175817

Jack
a few problems with your whole premise
like some other people have stated, public lands and private lands are two different issues
The debate is rarely over private lands (except for the times when the timber industry gets with the Forest Service Politicos for a public land swap — the Timber industry trades the Forest Service some logged over desert for some prime US Forest Land — and it is called a “win-win” — when it is really theft)
anywho — I really don’t care what you do on your land as long as it doesn’t result in mudslides and silted up creeks running thru my land.

Re: Clear cutting — why are you so insistent on defending it?????
limited clear cutting IN CONCEPT and WHEN done PROPERLY can be ok — HOWEVER
That is rarely the case out HERE IN THE WEST
Do a flyover jack, you will see thousands of acres clear cut with a few puny trees left as “nurses”
and the 50-100 yard buffer zone from streams and creeks is commonly violated — even Salmon streams can be seen to be logged right to the bank, with the stream bed clogged with cuttings
ALL AGAINST THE LAW, but the Forest Service is not enforcing the laws under this administration (you recall, the MORAL ONE!!)
There was a back road into Mt Rainier National Park — washed out by a mudslide — right below a recent clearcut — the area adjacent to the clearcut did not suffer from a mudslide — and you can see how the water was taken care of NATURALLY — but at the clearcut — it just swept down the mountain and took out the road — public road paid for with public money, and had to be repaired by public money because it was an “act of God” -=-BS

Like I said, if done properly the concept can be shown to have value, but the REALITY is NOT GOOD

THEN COMES THE AFTERMATH
The clearcutting is bad enough, but the problem is that the natural forest is a diverse combination of species of trees and age of trees, after a clear cut, the diverse forest is replaced by MONOCULTURE — mono in species and mono in age
NEITHER IS GOOD
as Before, the — READ THE RESEARCH JACK
Douglas Fir does not do well in mono-culture — its root system relies on other species and cultures in the ground that are not present after a clear cut
Douglas Fir cannot grow in shade, and therefore a natural forest is open and contains a variety of species that allows regeneration of the Fir and other species
However the Timber companies LOVE Doug Fir (it is a good wood) and so replant it solely — and then wonder why it doesn’t do as well as the original growth

Regarding the work to make the trees grow faster so as to harvest them sooner — guess what you end up with
Punky wood — remember how tight grained wood was highly prized timber/lumber??? Guess what, when trees grow quickly the rings are spaced FAR apart, — not resulting in tight grain eh, but a soft, punky, knotted wood that is not good for much besides construction grade (lowest at that) studs or pulp wood.
Concept vs reality
You argue concept — the rest of us have seen and don’t want to live with the reality.
NOT THAT REALITY
a BETTER REALITY

Posted by: Russ at August 16, 2006 9:48 AM
Comment #175819

Jack
But some of what appears to tourists as terrible destruction is actually good management.

NO JACK, FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS THERE HAS BEEN NO “GOOD MANAGEMENT” OF THE FOREST SERVICE, NOR OF THE OTHER AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR MANAGING PUBLIC LANDS
IT HAS BEEN WHOLESALE THEFT AND DESTRUCTION OF PUBLIC LANDS FOR PRIVATE GREED AND GAIN — PERIOD, AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN VIOLATED BY THIS ADMINISTRATION

SMALL TIMBER LOT OWNERS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM, NOR ARE THEY EVEN RELEVANT IN THE DISCUSSION — BECAUSE THE MAIN PROBLEM AND THE MAIN DESTRUCTION IS BETWEEN THE FEDERAL ADMINISTRATION AND THE LARGE TIMBER COMPANIES

ALL YOU SMALL LOT OWNERS COULD MANAGE YOUR LANDS PERFECTLY AND THERE WOULD BE NEXT TO ZERO IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

YOUR 50-500 ACRES ARE NOTHING COMPARED TO THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS BEING DESTROYED
In fact your small lots might actually be contributing to the problem, every hear of isolation — splitting up of the habitat??
if species aren’t allowed corridors for migration you get little pockets of wildlife that either cannot be sustained for long, outgrow their habitat and ruin it, become inbred and vulnerable to disease or a mirad number of other problems
What is needed in continuous habitate to allow migration, mixing and other activities to ensure diverse, sustainable wildlife populations.

Posted by: Russ at August 16, 2006 9:56 AM
Comment #175832

It is said that history is a great teacher. For those who would be interested to learn about what the native americans acomplished. It will change your view of how a people can change there enviroment to work for them. the book will also dispell commonlly held ideas of how the indians (both north and south america) supposedly lived in harmony with nature, in a pristine world.———-1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus—By Charles C. Mann

Posted by: David Marry at August 16, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #175837

Russ,

I am from Oklahoma. In 1938, my father, his grandfather, his great grandfather and their families left Oklahoma for California. They left because, as you may know, Oklahoma was referred to the “dust bowl”. This was attributed to clear cutting by farmers and other practices that rendered the land useless. When I was a small child, I watched my maternal grandparents clear cut 100 acres of land (save the fence lines) to raise cattle. I remember the piles of trees that burned for days. You seem to think that you’re an expert on virtually everything; I can only relate the experiences I’ve actually had. So I guess that taking down all of the trees on most of the farms in Oklahoma wasn’t clear cutting.

With regard to John Stossel, I am not some uneducated minon who believes everything I read. I have not found any factual errors in his books. Stossel has received 19 Emmy Awards. He has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. He also has a George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award. If my choice is to believe him or you, I am very secure with the facts he has reported.

I am mindful of a quote from Bertrand Russell relative to your statements: “The degree of one’s emotion varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts — the less you know the hotter you get.”

Posted by: mike at August 16, 2006 11:20 AM
Comment #175841

I used a quote earlier without attributing it:
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” U.S. Senator Pat Moynihan, quoted in Robert Sobel’s review of ‘Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies’ edited by Mark C. Carnes.

Posted by: mike at August 16, 2006 11:29 AM
Comment #175849

Jack

How dare you bring your Republican/pro-business/land raping/fascist/Bush supporting/Neo-Con/tax breaks for the rich/capitalist pig opinions into the public forum! You cannot know anything, you may not claim to understand anything and you most assuredly may not make public your thoughts on the matter unless authorized or sponsored by:
Humans Insisting on Plants rights Mother Planets rights and International Ecological Sanctuaries. You, you shill for the lumber lobby, you hater of the forest, you evil rightwing owl destroyer you.

I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree
unless of course, that tree you see
becomes the house that shelters me

it feeds the fire that helps warm me
when winters wrath is plain to see
and fuels a campfires tales with glee
but something must be wrong with me

by now I’m sure the left would be
protesting my house my hearth my family
for in my haste to live so free
I killed the poor defenseless tree

so when I pass from this life to be
with God, (I hope), so heavenly
forgive for once my inability
to equate human life with a stupid tree

Posted by: JR at August 16, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #175851

I would say that clarity is a virtue, Jack, in how one communicates, and trying to provoke partisan disagreement is a bad way to start an article whose substance would not be so apt to get people up in arms. Provoke when content is provocative and you’ve got the evidence to back your point. Provocation just for the sake of provocation is among the list of partisan excesses.

Additionally, I would say that any deterministic view of nature is problematic. It’s not that nature is smarter than us, it’s just more perverse in the complexity of its relationships. The Giant Redwoods went into a decline, and the hazard of destructive crown fires became greater because of a no-tolerance policy on forest fires. In other cases involving folks trying to boost prey species’ numbers by culling predators found their efforts unsuccessful. Observations found that complex feedbacks prevented the numbers from growing, such as overeating on the prey species’ part, competition from other prey species, and predation by the competitors of the predator species.

I think we have to approach nature with greater humility and caution, because we do not know all the ins and outs of how it operates. We have to learn by experience, and if our lesson is extreme enough, the experience could be fatal, or at the very least, troublesome for our economic and societal interests.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 16, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #175856

Would someone please explain my family and I about all the clear cutting that is happening in our area of Texas… Spring, Waller, Cypress, Conroe the list could go on…all for just “one” more shopping center…with “one” more drycleaners…”one” more storage center…”one” more pharmacy!!! Our trees are almost extinct in this area… we hate it…when will enough be enough for these developers…??? im sick of hearing about all the beautiful untouched land and trees that we have in America… and that “your trees are just a tiny percentage of all america has…” i don’t give a rip…we love our trees…pines and all!!! now when we leave our house we hold our breath to see what piece of wooded area has been torn completely down…
and believe it or not…we now have a bigger flooding problem and of course mosquitos are worse! …imagine that…and i was told that clear cutting helped drainage…hmmmm…not here…so somebody tell me and my kids where the good is…oh i guess its good if you’re a developer… who probably lives in a heavily wooded area…untouched by cement hands!!!!

Posted by: Jane at August 16, 2006 12:37 PM
Comment #175857

Jack,

Good argument in support of the indefensible. Except for comparing Bambi to PETA it was a pretty clean post.

But: Why is it ever a “Good idea” to clear cut a forest? Why is sustainable commercial fast growth forests better than slow growth forests? For either wildlife or the overall environment?

Sorry, not everything is or should be about business. We need business but don’t use it to justify destroying our planet.

Posted by: Dave1 at August 16, 2006 12:41 PM
Comment #175860

Russ

You cannot grow douglas fir in a shady forest. If you create opening large enough for douglas fir to grow, that is a clear cut. You oppose widespread clear cut. You may have a point depending on what you are talking about, but the general idea is that clear cutting may be necessary.

Also, don’t give that last five years, Bush policy crap. I think it was you who mentioned the Olympic forest. I was through there in summer 1994. I thought there was a little too much clear cut at that time. Clinton was president at that time and Democrats controlled congress. It was their policy.

The patchwork you are talking about is almost inevitable. Say you let your trees grow for 100 years – a very long rotation. You have 100 tracts. You harvest one every year. If you fly over, what do you see? You see one recent clear cut. You see several clear cut areas growing back and you see lots of young forest. About half of what you see are big trees, but what you notice are the patches. This kind of forestry could be sustainable forever. But you will not like the looks of it ever. You are seeing the parts not the whole.

Is a managed forest different from a natural forest? Yes. If you believe all these places should be untouched by the hand of man, then you are making a value statement and a statement of faith. We really cannot address faith based ideas. But if you are measuring impacts, we can say that these practices are sustainable. They allow wildlife to live. They young trees take up more CO2 than older trees and the forest as a whole absorbs water and sunlight very well.

Re the small lots, my small is surrounded by other fields, forests and farms. It has created no fragmentation except in ownership. Fragmentation comes when you develop the land with homes or roads. There was a house on my land many year ago. It is gone, so it is less developed today than it was. I expect you live in a city. It is hard for people who visit rural areas w/o interacting with rural people to understand how it works. It took me a while too and you probably will learn with experience. Being angry is easy, but being angry at the right person, for the right reason and to the right extent is hard.

Stephen

As I wrote, I wanted to get the clear cut idea out there because it was the one the needed to be addressed. Read Russ’ comments and you will see why I think that.

I certainly agree with your comment on the non determined nature of nature. We probably can never understand it, but we can work in ways that are sustainable, which is what we are doing in proper forestry.

There are many people who think that the statistical random result found in nature is always better than a decision by humans. For them an accidental fire is okay, even if it destroys lots of land, but a decision to cut is not. In both cases, it depends on surrounding circumstance.

We live in a world that humans are going to use. Our option is NOT to isolate nature from man, but rather figure out ways to sustain the contacts. I am offering ideas about how to do that. I know that some work because I have seen them work. What I am getting in response is criticism of things I did not say and do not support as well as a lot old fashioned (although passionate) ideas about the environment.

I know how they feel. I felt that way once myself. I rejected forestry for a long time because I felt that “using” trees was someone tainted. But as I learned more I found that we humans have to live with nature. We cannot isolate ourselves and we cannot isolate nature from us. Doing this well is a much higher calling that making sure everyone just stays away.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 12:49 PM
Comment #175862

once again Jack
West vs East
The farmlands that surround you were once Forest
Now they might be returning

Clear cuts concept — WHEN DONE PROPERLY
MAY have some value

LARGE CORPORATIONS IN THE WEST DO NOT DO THEM PROPERLY AND THE FOREST SERVICE DOES NOT DO THEIR JOB

You are correct about the time frame
Most of the Olympic devestation can be attributed to Reagan and Watt, not the current administration

most of the excessive logging was shut down by Clinton (remember the screaming about his roadless rules??)

HOWEVER under the current administration (the BS as you call it)(
He has opened up the roadless areas that were being protected (even before Clinton) and is
AGAIN LOOK THIS UP

Is TRYING to open up National Parks and Monuments to the Extraction Industries (mining and drilling)

So don’t pawn off or let this A-hole off the hook.

Again
You don’t know what you’re talking abour concerning the Doug Fir forests we have out here

Clear Cuts are not required to regenerate a Doug Fir (nor to sustain) Forest

and again why are you choosing to NOT ADDRESS the monoculture devestation that is wrought by what is laughingly called “forest management” by the large timber industries?????

ONe thing is interesting
We pass laws regulating them to do the RIGHT thing because of their abusive practices when left on their own — and they are kicking and screaming the whole time trying to get them blocked.
THEN
they do TV ads to promote all the wonderful work they do for the environment (not mentioning that it is THE LAW — AND THEY WOULDN’T BE DOING IT IF IT WEREN’T THE LAW!!!!)

Posted by: Russ at August 16, 2006 12:59 PM
Comment #175863

Jane

You are talking about development. I am talking about forestry. If you cut the trees to build a parking lot you are not engaging in forestry management. That is deforestation. I oppose it probably stronger than you do. It is an aspect of urban sprawl. Make gas more expensive and you will get less of it, but that is a different subject.

Dave1

I have written this ten times. Pine, d fir, poplar and many other types of trees will not grow the shade of a slowly growing forest. If you want those trees, you have to clear cut. Many of their seeds will not even germinate on the forest floor humus of an old forest. This is something people who only visit the woods evidently don’t know. Those woods you see are the result of a process. They are always changing. The big trees you see now will not be the ones there later in many cases. Go to an unmanaged pine forest, a thick one. Look at the little trees coming in under the pines in the shade. How many pines do you see? Probably none. The maples or beech do fine in the shade. If you want only a maple beech forest, do not cut. If you want pines, d fir, you must.

Now go to your thick woods again. What sort of wildlife do you see? Do you see lots of deer or turkey? If you do it is near the edge of the woods. These animals do not like the old growth. There is not much for them to eat. The deer population will be its most healthy a couple years after a clear cut.

Back to your forest one more time. Imagine someone is managing it now. They are cutting the big trees and leaving the others. Some of the others are not young trees; they are just small. Some of them will never develop because they were stunted when young and some are genetically small. After a couple generations, you have produced a forest of unhealthy runts.

Read my link on natural succession in the original post and pay particular attention to how our understanding of equalibrium have changed since the 1960s.

It is easy to defend clear cutting, but only when people understand the forest ecology.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #175864

Maybe I’m just egocentric, but I thought part of Jack’s purpose in being provocative was to bait me a bit because of comments we’ve exchanged on another thread. Because of that, I refused to get upset about his very qualified statement about clearcutting, because, from a logical point of view, all he had to do was produce one case where clearcutting was appropriate, and I already knew enough about the topic not to take the bait.

Having said that, clearcutting has in many many cases been a terrible thing, which Jack never denied. And, you know, I think the left is, genrally, on the side of the gods on environmental issues. It is nice, though, to see the center shifting.

Posted by: Trent at August 16, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #175865

Russ

Have you ever seen a large number of d. fir saplings in a deep shady woods? Leave it uncut (or unburned) long enough and you get hemlock and spruces, some maples etc. It is a different forest. Some pines are even less shade tolerant. They will tolerate partial shade when young, but will not mature.

You keep on telling me to look at the western forest. I have done that many times and I have talked to people who know about them. Do you live and work in the forests of the west? Beyond that, the west is a really big place with lots of different environments. I do not think you can say anything about the whole west.

As I told Rocky early on, there are some forests in Arizona I would never cut because they would not grow back until the next ice age. As I told others, there are some forests that are particularly significant and should be presereved. But there are some places where the forest grow back very well. Most of W. Washington state is like that, since that is what you are evidently talking about.

Nobody like the look of a clear cut, but it is a good mangement tool. Re taking wood, if not here, where? If not wood, what? Do you prefer plasticm metal or concrete as building materials?

Posted by: jack at August 16, 2006 1:20 PM
Comment #175868

Trent

I didn’t write it to bait you, but I did write it in response to what you said. I wanted to explain something that I though was important.

Clear cutting is part of good management. It is on the side of the angels. You cannot properly manage a large forest w/o clear cutting. It is not appropriate in every case, but NO form of management is appropriate in every case.

I get more than a little annoyed at urban environmentalists who show up and tell people who have studied and have experience what is good. They think that a person who invests in timber and helps is grow for 30 years is after the fast buck. I have been truly impressed with the people who work in forestry, and this includes the big firms. They try to look at the big picture and the long term. They are not the stereotypes we see on TV. I do not think anyone goes into forestry to make money, but you have to make money in order to do forestry. These guys who recently read “Silent Spring” just do not understand. I think I could explain it to them, but it might take a couple of years for them to observe the changes before they could actually feel it in their hearts.

They prefer anger to solutions. I believe we may also disagree on the fundamentals. I believe humans are part of nature and should not be isolated from it. Others seem to think we should just put nature (or a lot of it) off limits. This is a faith based idea. We can disagree, but we can never convince the other. Faith is like that.

Trent - I am not talking about you here. You have been extraordinarily reasonable.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 1:33 PM
Comment #175877

real quick…did “small lots” refer to my post…and if so no i don’t live in the city…i live in the outskirts of suburbia…with john deere trackers still driving down the roads, cows, horses…you know where lyle lovett lives and is…its still “country” to us…and we want that way… england can keep and protect its countryside why can’t we!!!

Posted by: Jane at August 16, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #175881

Jane

Small lots was Russ referring to my 178 acres of forest.

Europeans (sometimes) preserve their countrside by strict zoning laws, high gas prices and an difficult development system. It is also true that land prices are very high and so are building costs. It works, but has some downsides. Overall, I think that the French or the Norwegians have a better handle on urban and regional planning. The downside is that it is good for those already established, but hard on others. They do less well on other things.

It might not be what you really want, however. You live in an exurb. Do you work in the rural economy? Where Europeans have been successful it is by discouraging commuting. If you do not work within about ten miles of your house, you are probably adding to that sprawl that the Euros have avoided (less and less unfortunately).

The key to the whole mess up is really private cars and the roads and infrastructure that come with them. Make it expensive to drive and very expensive to park and you go a long way toward limiting sprawl, but those are steps farther than most Americans will go.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 2:33 PM
Comment #175886

Dave1,

I know you weren’t asking me, but here’s my two cents on your questions about forestry. One inescapable fact of life on this planet is that it is inhabited by humans. These humans need wood products, such as lumber and paper, to function in civilizations. Clear cutting within this perspective is good as it gives a fresh start for commercial trees. These forests are not neseccarily better than old growth (I don’t think they are at all) but they do serve to help preserve this old growth by having a supply of wood available for commercial exploitation outside of natural forests. The issue is our own lives as a species. I think we need to be more consciencious in our policies regarding forests, but I also acknowledge that people do need wood and wood products. Within the confines of that reality, clear cutting and other management techniques are a necessary activity to ensure our own survival and happiness.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 16, 2006 2:50 PM
Comment #175905

Jack

But that would be wrong. We need a multiple use. Preservation is not necessarily better than wise use and preservation just for its own sake is not appropriate.

These are statements of faith, not facts. Do you have any evidence that public lands should be used to provide the timber industry with lumber?

Posted by: Mental Wimp at August 16, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #175910

Mental

It is a value judgement, yes. I think that we should have multiple use. It takes the pressure off other lands, provides income for the government and for Americans, lowers the price of wood (and so the price of homes) and helps the forest pay for themselves.

Take a simple example. You want to do a thinning operation to prevent fire. If you bring in loggers, they pay the government and the product they produce is used by the public. If you do not bring in loggers in a commerical way, the government has to pay someone to do it. In one instance, taxpayers get money; in the other they pay money.

It is the same situation as if you owned the land. I have guys who hunt on my land. They pay me to hunt (not much) and they also maintain my fences and keep people from dumping garbage. If I didn’t have them, I would have to pay someone to do these things. My value judgement is that if they are not only willing to do what I want done for free, but also pay ME, I would be stupid not to make the deal.

But those are just my values. Maybe a more liberal guy would just waste the money and feel more virtuous.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 4:35 PM
Comment #175951
Can species such as most pines, douglas fir, or yellow popular grow in the shade of the forest of their own species? No they can’t.

This is absolutely fascinating. Completely irrelevant, but absolutely fascinating. As usual, you offer false choices: according to you, there are exactly two choices 1) clear-cut or 2) stunt the growth of new plants. But I think we all know there are more choices, such as 3) harvest the taller, older plants shading out the new ones, right?

You cannot grow these sorts of trees in the shade. Therefore if you want forests of pine, fir, poplar etc can you grow them w/o clear cutting? No you can’t,

Sure you can, you can harvest the taller, older trees shading out the new growth. You could even harvest, say, half of all the trees to give the newer ones a chance. You offer a false choice, like “You’re either with us or with the terrorists” when you know there are other choices.

unless you want to burn your forests to the ground. If that is your policy, fine.

Well, at least now you admit it’s not just a false choice between clear-cutting and leaving them entirely alone. That’s some progress.

Some people think we have no business in nature. That is a value judgement and an expression of faith. If you hold with that, I cannot argue with it.

Nope, I don’t hold with that. My policy on forest fires is that they should be allowed to burn, because (I couldn’t help but notice you neglected to include this in your message) some softwoods will not germinate until their cones have been expose to fire. People who choose to live in close proximity to forests have made the decision to put themselves and their property at risk of forest fire. It is wrong to spend money and risk firefighters’ lives trying to protect the property of thos people.

It is unprovable. What I can tell you is that proper forest management that includes clear cutting is sustainable. Our experience shows that. My personal experience shows that.

Funny, most every web site I’ve seen says you’re wrong, except Weyerhauser’s, GP’s, etc. And I couldn’t help nbut notice that when I asked you to support your insistence that “Clearcutting is good”, the only thing you could muster was “Because I said so”.

Different species require different management. If you are growing beech or maple, you do not clear cut. If you want pine or fir, you do. I know it is very hard to understand, but different methods are required for different goals.

No, if it were true it would be easy to understand, assuming you could provide any proof beside “Because I said so”. You’re patronizing me again, man.

I assume you can tell a pine from a spruce or a hemlock,

Sure can, thanks. What’s your point?

but I also figure you live in an urban area and do not own a forest, right?

I live in an urban area that happens to be smack in the middle of a hardwood forest, or used to be before suburbia happened. What makes you think that you have to own a forest to know something about trees?

Posted by: Crazy_joe_divola at August 16, 2006 8:03 PM
Comment #175966

Crazy joe

Let’s try to use your own eyes. Try to observe the trees in the woods. You live in a hardwood area, so I cannot let you observe pine rotation. What kinds or trees? You can tell a popular from a beech and a sugar maple, right? Take a look. If you find big poplars, do you find little beech or maples? Probably yes. Now look under the beech and maples. Do you find any little poplars? The poplars need the full sun. They do not grow in the deep woods. The little beech and maple will scorch in the full sun. They like the shade. If you try to establish a beech forest on an open field, ou will fail. If you try to grow poplars in a shady forest, you will also fail. Don’t you see how that would affect your managment? How many trees would you need to cut to make an opening big enough to grow poplar? It would probably be enough to call a clear cut. If you do not clear cut, how many times would you have to return to the woods? Remember, the road and the dragging timber causes damage. If you do a clear cut rotation, you come into the forest with your equipment three times in about 40 years. A select cut may take you in every year. Which is more damaging. Again, it depends on the situation. All these methods have their proper times and places.

If get a chance, go see a pine forest. Check what is growing under those big pine trees. In most of the eastern U.S. it will be hardwoods. Why don’t the pines grow under the other pines? They like the full sun. In the west or north it may be spruce or hemlock. But it will not be pines if it is shady. They just will not grow. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take anybody’s word for it. Go look.

Re fires, yes. You can burn your forest to the ground and achieve an effect similar to a clear cut. If that is your preferred option, it represents your values. You prefer to pay more for wood or endanger people living near the forest. I prefer to use the wood. This is a preference. No point in arguing.

Did you read about selective cuts? The little trees may not be young. They may just be stunted. Selective cutting can leave you with an inferior forest.

I am sorry if you felt patronized. Liberals tend to thing conservatives are greedy and conservatives tend to think liberals are uninformed. Both formulations are wrong, but it is very hard to explain unless someone has experience and can tell the tree species from each other. That is why I asked about the pine, spruce and hemlock. Many people see an “evergreen forest” and do not understand that a pine forest is entirely different than a spruce forest.

BTW - I own a forest because I know about and love trees and forests. It has been my dream for more than 30 years. I do not know about trees because I own a forest. But owning a forest has taught me a lot more about trees.

I asked about your urban experience because it sounds like urban experience. I have found in myself and others that working with trees changes perspective.

re webpages on clearcutting, Trent provide a good link on clear cutting.

It addresses some of the problems people have with the term. They mistake clear cutting with deforestation. Your suburbia experience sounds like deforestation.

Posted by: Jack at August 16, 2006 9:16 PM
Comment #176031

Jack,
I agree that proper forest management is a boon on all levels. Look at the fires that have run rampant in the west. Am I the only one who has noticed that they don’t have the same problem in the east? The “bambi” mentality has stopped clearing out the undergrowth that is nothing more than fuel for wild fires. A firebreak is an accepted form of stopping fires from getting out of control, why wait till the fire is raging to set a series of breaks?

Am I saying clearcut everything? Of course not. But proper management does not mean leave everything untouched.

Posted by: David at August 17, 2006 7:59 AM
Comment #176043

The problem is, lumber companies prefer old growth, or at least naturally grown wood. The reason is that tree farm wood is often too good. The trees are grown under such good conditions that the tree rings are spaced much wider than they are in natural counterparts.

In nature, competition is fierce, as is the feeding of animals on leaves, and of insects on everything. The trees also grow under non-ideal circumstances, often having to struggle for resources and growth beneath the canopies of other trees.

Modern folks, in their ambition-driven quest for ideals, often brush up against the non-ideal way nature operates. Modern chip designers are facing a situation where raising chip speeds no longer produces as many benefits. Clock Cycles take up more processing themselves, heat from the chip makes it impossible to run the chip at full speed without burning it out, even with the massive heatsink and fan systems. The circuits themselves are becoming so thin that soon electrons will be tunnelling-quantum jumping straight through solid matter-reducing the effectiveness of the circuit. The very short wavelength of the light necessary to print the smaller circuits, and the expense to construct facilities able to pull this kind of thing off is also having its effect.

It isn’t that we’re not smart. We’re about the smartest things we know about in nature. It’s just that when nature disagrees with what’s inside our heads, nature always wins. Nature doesn’t have to be intelligent to get the better of us. We just have to be wrong. It doesn’t need to argue with us convincingly, or convert us to its politics It just needs to operate outside our experience, our knowledge, the level of complexity we can understand or predict in advance.

If we want any kind of victory, we must acknowledge that nature gets the final word, and that we always, always play by its rules. Let us not pine for the days in which guessing was the best one could do, where folk wisdom alone was enough.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 17, 2006 8:50 AM
Comment #176146

Stephen

Do you worry about entropy? I do not disagree with what you are saying, but it seems to make you sad. I think it is kind of funny, maybe ironic.

I lot depends on how you look at things. I agree that if we act foolishly in the natural world, we (humans) suffer. You can usually list environmental collapse among the causes for every civilization downfall in history. That is true. It is also true that in between collapses we often enjoy good standards of living and that after the collapse we adapt.

This actually IS the way of nature. Natural population grow to fast, or do things that destroy their ability to live in the local environment. You could even say that about natural succession. The trees, by shading the ground, make it impossible for future pine trees to grow. It is the way of nature. Nature is wasteful. Humans behave as nature would expect.

I sometimes hope that humans can overcome their natural fate, but we have yet shown no long term ability to do that. We can only hang on as long as possible. That might be a long time. In the long run we are all dead anyway.

Posted by: Jack at August 17, 2006 3:57 PM
Comment #220638

rawr

Posted by: Chuck Noris at May 17, 2007 12:05 PM
Comment #247929

what the fuck is wrong with u
clear cutting isnt good

Posted by: dddd at March 14, 2008 2:03 PM
Comment #318740

clear cutting is good becouse
New, healthy plants grow back in the old ones place

Posted by: Nathaniel at February 16, 2011 1:20 PM
Comment #381270

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