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An Oregon State University forestry research team led by graduate student Daniel Donato recently investigated how post-fire salvage logging affects forest regeneration.  Based on his field work--counting seedlings after a forest fire--he found evidence that salvage logging hurts, rather than helps, the growth of new trees.  He submitted the study to the journal Science, which published it online.

You'd think that the Oregon State University would be proud of Daniel Donato and his colleagues.

Think again.

More after the flip.

Cue the War on Science!

From today's L.A. Times (link here ):

A federal agency briefly yanked funding for his project, irate politicians and timber interests e-mailed Donato's dean to complain, congressmen grilled him, and professors at his own university tried unsuccessfully to keep the paper from being published in the print edition of Science.

Columbia Helicopters, Inc., played a key role in the attack on Donato.  In a letter to the OSU Forestry Dean, VP Max Merlich wrote:

"The likelihood of this paper being used successfully against us in court on salvage logging litigation is very high.

"How OSU handles this from this point on could play an important part on our issues," said Merlich, whose Oregon based-company hauls logs by helicopter out of steep or remote sites in national forest timber sales, much of it in salvage projects.

Merlich's comments could not be easily ignored by the College of Forestry, which gets 12% of its research funding from state timber receipts. Columbia describes itself as the largest helicopter logging operation in the world. Three years ago, the wife of Columbia's co-founder donated $1 million to the college for an endowed professorship.

The OSU College of Forestry is not the only beneficiary of Columbia's generosity:

The company largesse also reaches into politics. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Columbia and its executives have given more than $300,000 to state and federal GOP committees and candidates, including some $22,000 to the Republican author of the salvage bill.

Originally posted to Battling Maxo on Sun Jun 11, 2006 at 12:00 PM PDT.

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