The latest Clinton/Gore proclamation to stop all timber cutting in 40 million acres of national forests appears as well thought out as most of their edicted blunders during the last six years. Our forests are a beautiful resource for both their valuable and totally renewable timber products and recreation which require the same educated and intense care they have had the last 80 years, which turned barren foothills and mountains to the lovely growths we have today.
When I retired, I selected an acre in Grizzly Flats, Calif., on the forest boundary line for the El Dorado National Forest. Not long after my home was completed, I noticed ribbons in the forest, and I called the USFS. A ranger/siviculturalist came to my home, and after two hours, left me with a new outlook on forest management. The tree cutting noises from chain saws and trees falling were heart breaking; however, when they finished and had stacked the slash and cleaned the area, it was nicer than before. Two years later, small trees were planted to grow under the shelter of the big trees.
The trees had been crowded, but now were more openly spaced and today have improved because soil nutrients and water were better able to provide the healthy levels required by the trees. A medium to large tree requires about 500 gallons of water per tree each summer day. Where trees are allowed to grow closely together, they tend to be stunted and thin. If we have a fire, it can be quickly extinguished because of the logging roads (some over 100 years old) and cleared areas around the trees.
The value of the trees to the local and national economies is never mentioned. One factor is the payment to the USFS for the trees which provides funds for logging planning and supervision, patrol, look-out stations, fire fighting and management and planning for maintaining a healthy forest for employment and recreation.
The wages for labor include preparing for the cut (roads, etc.), cutting, trimming, cutting trees into logs, loading logs, stacking slash, trucking logs, unloaders, stackers, servicing the logs (watering and rotating), movement into the mill, mill equipment operators, lumber movement and stacking, trucking, sale by retail stores, sale by builders to customers and purchase and maintenance of expensive equipment for each operation.
Every operation creates funds for families, income taxes, Social Security taxes, fuel taxes, vehicle registrations, health benefits, property taxes and school taxes paid by mills. These funds then flow through our economy adding to the financial benefits of the economy listed above with a dollar value that is difficult to imagine. There is no substitute for timber/lumber operations. Shutdowns are a loss to everyone.