CONSERVATION REPORT, November 90 Storm Petrel1
Shasta Costa.2 Increased public participation means enviro's asked more and more to participate in timber sales that are worse and worse
Elk River3 Sales Withdrawn
For several years the ground rules for managing Northwest forests have been handled outside theThe Forest Service has withdrawn the two proposed Timber Sales on the Elk River. Our chapter joined with several other local environmental groups in going to court over these sales. The Forest Service decided to withdraw the sales before the court hearing. This was a very close call as the sales had been auctioned, but not yet awarded. For the time being the Elk River is safe from logging.
Shasta Costa Part III
Brave New World Forestry
While the avowed policy of the Forest Service (FS) has changed in the last year from that of "old" forestry to a kindlier gentler approach, "new" forestry or "new perspectives, little evidence of real change is visible at the grass roots. The futile attempt to meet last year's unrealistic goals used up all the "good" timber sales in their inventory. Because of past overcutting the only places left to find the volumes required for the 91 sales program are roadless, steep, or wild fish refugia.
But while timber departments of the FS are cobbling together the shabbiest collection of sales ever seen, managers must reconcile this with an avowed policy of environmental sensitivity. Reports from all over the Northwest indicate that the strategy of the FS appears to be to take the worst of the proposed incursions into roadless areas and make them demonstration projects for "New Perspectives". As Thomas Nagel said, "We are not always willing to extricate ourselves from a position whose absurdity has become clear to us".
Andy Kerr, who as usual sees things first says, "New Age Forestry is a bureaucratic response to a public relations problem." See his article in the 10/90 Forest Watch, which we reprint in this issue. "New Age" Forestry is an overhaul of the language and public relations of deforestation to cover the entry of roadless and other sensitive areas which shouldn't be logged in the first place.
Since one component of "new perspectives" is increased public participation environmentalists are now asked more and more to participate in timber sales that are worse and worse. Environmentalists want to participate in processes where they can make a difference so it is often difficult to know when to cooperate. But, as the professor of logic told the burglar he had just shot in his study, "If you enter a person's premises you are forced to accept his conclusions."
Cautions for negotiating with the Forest Service4
- "New Forestry" may be used as a smokescreen to enter areas where no logging should even be considered.
- "Negotiations" may be used to run out the clock and forestall public opposition while pre-sales documentation is prepared.
- Public process may be used to bring paid pro–timber "publics" to the table early in the process to give FS logging schemes the appearance of "middle ground"
- Higher levels within the forest may modify or discard local agreements if they result in a reduced cut
- Environmentalist input may be used to construct "throw away" alternatives which have no possibility of being selected
- Sham negotiations may be used to wear out unpaid volunteers.
Local managers are often fine people who may believe that if they were not there making "least worst" decisions others would come and make more terrible decisions. They may tell us that they are forced to enter areas that they would prefer not to enter. They may feel obligated to make environmentally bad decisions. We however are not obliged to become complicit in their bad decisions. Today the cooperation that is required is not just between environmentalists and land managers, it is between and among land managers who must find the collective will to "just say no." Environmentalists must learn the difference between "idiot compassion" and "tough love".
Some strategies for environmentalists to consider
- Refuse to negotiate on any local issues until after preferred alternatives are selected.
- Pin down who the deciding official is, and insist that he be present for any local meetings. If in fact, the Ranger is not going to be making the final decision, why waste you time talking to him.
- At every meeting insist on formal minutes which are signed by both parties.
Prince Charles Rainforest lecture
Prince Charles has been leading an international fight to stop rainforest logging that destroys tribal people. He has been touring the world explaining that humans can't go on treating forests as worthless if they aren't good for some short term economic purpose.
He is concerned that the west's utilitarian ethic may deal with the tropical rainforest simply as an issue of how to manage natural resources more efficiently and effectively. Environmentalism and sustainable development are not the same thing. What is required is not just the introduction of new management techniques and funding mechanisms but rather a less arrogant, less man centered philosophy. "One can imagine the situation in which some might be inclined just to hoover up [i.e. vacuum up] the scientific knowledge of the rainforest Indians, reduce that knowledge to our own moneymaking utilitarian calculus, create scores of new exotic products (such as 140 varieties of manioc Musesli), develop thrusting new profit centers out of the tropical forest genetic treasure chest and then simply move on in the old empty, mindless way."