The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Forest ownership change an answer?

 

September 30, 2020



Editor:

Thank you, Lars Arndt, for your guest editorial of Sept. 16. It got me thinking...

The spotted owls, which ruined our timber economy decades ago, are now roasted, along with their aggressive barred cousins from the east who were fairly effectively evicting the spotted ones anyway.

Yes, we should save some tracts of big old growth, like the Olympic Peninsula, Glacier, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, etc., as national parks for us to see and immerse ourselves in now and then.

But do all the vast spaces between need to be in national forests? Much of it is never seen by any but owls and deer... and the occasional wishful logger or hunter – who won’t find much game there anyway since there are few meadows.

We don’t need so many unproductive miles of forests tied up in the national system.

Yes, save some tracts of “old growth” but not so much of it! I think we should encourage our national parks system, and greatly diminish the national forest concept.

I rejoice to see patchy replanted clearcuts that are green and growing, looking good in five years and thick and green in 10.

I would much rather see a logged area, which means there is lumber for me to build a barn or a house, and that many people have jobs, than see miles of burned stark tree trunks.

There’s no reason why people can’t use what God has provided, if they harvest intelligently and replant again for the future, just like any other crop.

After all, trees are a crop, like wheat or corn or soy... just with a longer growth cycle.

Annually plowed fields aren’t beautiful for about three months, but then the crop grows, to our visual delight for the next six or so.

In Oregon, when private landowners, whether small like my 17 acres or huge tracts such as CTC manages, harvest their timber, it must be replanted within two years and show a good regrowth for the future at the five-year check-up.

Does the federal government do that when national forests burn? Sometimes, yes, but not diligently like landowners do.

Laminated wooden beams have proven to be stronger than steel for construction of high rises. And wood is renewable, which minerals are not, and their mines are deep and ugly. Who wouldn’t want to replace iron with wood?

Every town should demand that national forests surrounding them be cleared of underbrush for a mile or more around the inhabited area for fire prevention so they won’t become like Mill City, Phoenix and Talent, which are now clones of Paradise, Calif.

This burn has ruined many waterways, little streams and bigger rivers.

Huh! So much for the legal 200-foot buffer required between water and wood. Shade is gone, fish are stressed or gone, water is unsafe to drink.

Future landslides can create little lakes, dammed by sludge, which in a wet year (predicted for this winter) may wipe out the dams and cause more damage below.

Think about this: 150 years ago the federal government, DC, strongly encouraged people to move west, homesteading the prairies and on to Oregon. Why? It was to the government’s advantage not to own all that land, but let private enterprise do its bit to produce... farm, raise cattle... and pay taxes.

Why doesn’t that same principle apply to forested mountains? It should!

The Homestead Act should be reactivated for the national forest lands. The burned areas could be sold cheaply and the salvageable tree trunks harvested.

Much of this territory already has roads for access; it is not pristine, but was logged off many decades ago, until the Homestead Act was killed and roads blocked off from public use.

Smart private landowners manage their land for overall best uses...not just for one year’s fad money crop. They plan for many years ahead, which includes brush control, for their forests. After all, they have their money at stake. Skin in the game. And think of all the jobs that would be available if the forests were cleaned up so they wouldn’t destroy people and property and production.

Any action has consequences. If the national forests aren’t being properly protected, they should be taken from national oversight and sold to those who will do a better job. It’s the national forests that burn. Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific, and our Oregon State forests are well cared for.

Divide and conquer! Let private owners manage that land, take a load off the Feds’ backs and collect taxes. I am glad to have CTC for a neighbor.

If OSHA can threaten to shut down a business for not enforcing the rule to wear masks, why can’t a government department lose their domain for mismanagement?

Joan Scofield

Sweet Home

 
 

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