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View Diary: Really Barack! Logging in a rain forest? (123 comments)

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  •  Timber and Alaska. (3+ / 0-)
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    canyonrat, polar bear, mieprowan

    I'd ask readers of this issue to research what has happened in the last fifteen years as regards this specific potential sale.

    This is not completely a virgin forest.  Part of the plan includes rebuilding old roads - which constitutes around a third of the total miles of road building in the plan.

    The proposed 4 million board feet to a maximum of a little over 6 million board feet of lumber in the plan is a very tiny portion of the original Forest Service plan created over ten years ago, and around 25% (at the maximum projected board feet) of the original Forest Service sale proposal.

    I grew up in a town with a population of less than 2000. That town alone had four lumber mills in its heyday forty years ago. SE Alaska is down to 3 to 4 mills - 85% of the lumber industry is now gone. Allow me to repeat this - the proposed sale of 4 to 6 million board feet of lumber is miniscule.

    I'm very mixed about this. Livelihoods are being wiped out up there. In parallel with the impact on the fishing industry in the last 15 years, there is very little livelihood left in Alaska - at least in terms of the last 100 years of traditional livelihood.  This same dynamic has occurred in the other West Coast states - Oregon and Washington - and the timber industry is nearly defunct in these states except for large corporate operations. It's taking a generation or two to refit the economy in formerly dominant timber economies in the lower 48 - to attempt the retrain and re-employ of those workers in other industries. In many coastal towns, the economies have never recovered. In this current recession, any shift in industry paradigm can be too costly for communities to survive unless there are additional federal funds to prop up alternate industries.

    Alaska will take a lot longer to regenerate an alternative economy, given its location and low density population. And given the current GOP leadership.

    I'm strongly on the side of the environmentalist perspective, but I also see the argument in assisting local mill operations like Seney's in order to protect small-scale livelihoods in that area in the interim.

    Btw, we do log in rain forests all the time here in Washington State, where the impact on watersheds, flora and fauna is far greater than the impact of this individual Alaskan proposal.

    "We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other."
    Teilhard de Chardin

    by exmearden on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 10:17:01 AM PDT

    •  I'm for assisting small operators, too, but with (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exmearden, dewley notid, mieprowan, CMYK

      thinning, mostly, and not in roadless and/or fragile areas.  There can be sustainable, small scale forestry in some areas.  

      However, from some of the press, it appears that the whole community is not behind this sale, as it is the last pristine area for recreation and hunters in the vicinity.

      •  if you look at the map of the proposed area (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        polar bear

        I think this is a little hyperbole. Of course, that's my perception without having been to the area.  

        The other 75% of the area around the watershed, a large watershed area, will remain untouched by road building or logging operations.

        This link, from the Earthjustice site, shows the 2005 area, and shows a proposed cutting area that is greater than the current proposal (to my understanding).

        Note that the South Reville on Thorne Arm is roadless as well.

        "We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other."
        Teilhard de Chardin

        by exmearden on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 10:36:43 AM PDT

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        •  fwiw, here's part of the march, 2009 press (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Oke, exmearden, dewley notid, mieprowan, CMYK

          release from EJ that i linked above.

          "The Orion North timber sale has been on the books for a decade. Since then, timber prices have plummeted while the costs of timber sales to taxpayers have skyrocketed," said Kate Glover, an attorney with Earthjustice, the law firm representing the conservation groups. "There has also been a lot of new scientific research in that time. For example, we now know that deer habitat in Thorne Arm may barely be sufficient to support wolves and deer hunting. If the Forest Service keeps logging here, we could see restrictions on subsistence and recreational hunting in the future."
          "The rest of Thorne Arm has already been hammered with clearcuts. People in Ketchikan use this last pristine area for fishing, hiking, and family outings -- the trees have more value standing than they do cut," said Cairnes.

          •  ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            polar bear, CMYK

            the trees have more value standing than they do cut

            This is almost always the case in any timber area with the economy and the costs of logging, fuel, milling, shipping, and subsequent overhead costs of reclamation.

            Since the early 80's, logging has not been a sustainable industry for small operators. Most timber operators, especially the small scale ones, will admit to this.

            It's a sad dilemma. The thinning, smale scale logging you suggest is also not cost-effective for small mills. The costs of this type of logging, as well as the scale of the proposed cutting in the Orion North plan, inevitably drive what's left of the industry to larger and larger timber corporations that have the equipment for the thinning and the resources to sell the timber to larger markets.

            Part and parcel to the reason why we import a great deal of our lumber from Canada.

            "We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other."
            Teilhard de Chardin

            by exmearden on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 11:20:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  some small scale logging in Oregon is profitable. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              exmearden, CMYK
              •  i should clarify that i was not limiting my (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                exmearden, CMYK

                support to thinning.  There is responsible, selective, sustainable logging, by local loggers and local mills, in areas that have traditionally been used for logging, are accepted for that, and are no longer that viable as wilderness areas, or even close.

                I support local production of products from these forests, as well.

              •  sometimes at the expense of public land (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                polar bear, CMYK

                which in Oregon is far more endangered than the 17 million acres of Tongass.

                Twenty years ago, I spent several days tramping over the hills between hwy 30 and hwy 26, around Vernonia and Cornelius Pass, on out to the Coast Range rise.

                Even at that time, the clear cuts on privately owned land was astounding. The Oregon Board of Forestry is opening up public land because much of the private land is already logged, or blocked for environmental reasons.

                The debate rages on. I haven't seen stats recently on small scale profits in Oregon, but I'd bet that there are very few small operations that are profitable.

                There's one remaining mill in my old hometown and they only survive because they consolidated all their operations in other communities down to one single location. They still maintain substantial family-owned property and retain legacy timber rights to state land that were grandfathered in from the early 1900's. I don't know how much of that is still logged, but it must be around 10% of what it was in the 70's.

                "We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other."
                Teilhard de Chardin

                by exmearden on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 11:51:17 AM PDT

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    •  Look, if the industry is in that bad of shape (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mieprowan, CMYK

      This is not going to do an f***ing thing but delay the inevitable. And destroy a significant area of unique ecosystem in the process. I'm sorry to hear about the status of people in this industry, but it seems they are going to have to find new jobs anyway. Why take another chunk of this ecosystem before you do?

      •  It really is not that easy. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        canyonrat, askew, exmearden

        There are people in Alaska who have spent entire generations doing Logging and Fishing and mining and whatnot.  To you, it's an industry.  To them it's a heritage.

        it's not as cut and dry as you make it out to be.

        You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

        by DawnG on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 11:48:29 AM PDT

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        •  Not a good reason to perpetuate damaging (0+ / 0-)

          economic and physical ecosystems, though. Otherwise, one could say the same thing about a crack house, after all.

          It's a complicated dance between loggers and the forests they decimate for money. Not all "industry" is benign or sustainable.

          "We're the Stains, and we don't put out!"

          by CMYK on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 12:10:25 PM PDT

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          •  oh you have GOT to be kidding me! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            exmearden

            You did not just compare logging to a fucking crack house.

            Jesus H Christ.  I can count my logging expertise in minutes and I still know more about the actual industry than YOU do.  

            Unbelievable.

            You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

            by DawnG on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 12:22:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're right, I didn't. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mieprowan

              But the argument that a business or industry shouldn't be disrupted because it's been a way of life only goes so far. That's the point I was trying to make.

              I live near logging communities and am familiar with the industry, mostly the larger operations. They are an integral part of the fabric of life out here and change comes slowly. It's tempting to romanticize logging, but it's a lot more complicated than that.

              "We're the Stains, and we don't put out!"

              by CMYK on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 08:22:21 PM PDT

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        •  It is actually. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mieprowan

          We once had a huge steel and coal industry here in Pittsburgh. Now we don't. People move, they get retrained or they retire. It's reality. And when it is an industry whose record for reckless and irresponsible practices are legendary, then don't expect a tear from me. The majority of those guys could care less about the environment or the conservation practices that could have preserved their jobs.

      •  this is Alaska. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        canyonrat

        Do you think loggers can move into manufacturing jobs or be retrained for high tech jobs?  Sorry, the population and diverse industries just do not exist up there. Manufacturing not at all.

        There is not enough state infrastructure and the population is just not substantial enough to attract the federal support for creating a "greener" economy.

        I'm of the opinion that oil payments to the citizens should be used to create alternative economies to support the job resettlement of those in fading industries like fishing and timber. But that's not going to happen. The process has been in place too long, is supported by the powerful oil corporations and the citizens, and the population depends too much on those oil revenues to supplement their living expenses in a state where the cost of living is exorbitant.

        "We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other."
        Teilhard de Chardin

        by exmearden on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 11:58:46 AM PDT

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