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Logging interests have long history of deception.

Byline: Tim Hermach

Crimes against nature are, by extension, crimes against humanity. The Register-Guard has published a couple of opinion pieces recently by logging industry supporters taking personal shots at community-minded professionals.

Unable to refute their facts, big timber continually attacks those whose only intention is to bring the truth to the table so we can make rational choices on how to deal with our forests and the mono-crop plantations created by years of heavily subsidized overcutting of our public forests.

The logging industry resorts to these tactics for a simple reason: If the truth were known, the same folks from whom they have been extracting huge subsidies for decades would run them out of our forests and watersheds.

Roy Keene has walked a distinguished path as a forester, an advocate for sustainable forest practices and a businessman. His Feb. 12 guest viewpoint offered a productive and clear alternative to current logging practices. His knowledge is current, and his honesty is widely known. The logging industry chose to slam him personally instead of responding constructively.

The industry, on the other hand, continually has deceived the public. Here are just a few examples:

In the 1960s, the logging companies said they needed to cut trees off public lands for only another 20 years. They said growth on their lands would catch up and fill the demand for timber from that point on. Yet today, they are screaming for a greatly increased cut from the public lands.

The logging companies said they would not cut and run. But they did.

They said they would cut in a sustainable way. They did not. They are still cutting their lands at ever younger ages and much faster than they are growing.

They said they would renew the forest. They degraded the forest.

They said they would never log the steep, landslide-prone back country. They have logged most of it.

They never take responsibility for the damage caused by their practices. Landslides, near extinctions, climate change - whatever the damage, they always say, "It was an act of nature."

They said if they were not allowed to burn wood debris in wigwam burners it would destroy the industry. It created one. Think charcoal briquettes.

They say they care about jobs. They do not. They export whole logs, pulp and chips. With those resources go our local jobs and tax base. If they could strip our forests with robots, they would do it. But they blame the spotted owl for work force reduction.

They have lobbied to have all severance taxes removed from industrial forest tracts of more than 5,000 acres. They pay almost no property taxes. They do not pay their share.

Taxpayers subsidize the removal of each precious tree from our public forests. These trees are not just about a Sunday afternoon hike. They clean our water and support spawning beds critical to the survival of the fishing industry. They hold and enrich the soil upon which we depend.

The forests are a potent weapon in the battle to stabilize our climate. They are the lungs of the planet, and without them we will not survive. Yet we pay the logging companies to liquidate them.

This is what they do not want you to know. Every well-intentioned and honest forest products worker is tangled in industry's web of deceit and public relations that in effect makes them dependent on taxpaying citizens just as surely as we support those on Social Security or any other entitlement program. But this entitlement is a double-edged sword. It robs the federal treasury of dollars, and it robs our grandchildren of their future.

The timber industry always has intended to convert as much of our forests as possible into industrial fiber farms. That is why even though more than 90 percent of Oregon's complex native forests are gone, this industry continues to demand more of the last remaining ancient forests.

The industry even developed a whole new set of dishonest programs and institutions with which to continue the destruction, including:

1. Fuels reduction. The real goal is to eliminate nutrient competition for their mono-crop fiber plantations.

2. Collaborative forestry and stewardship. These are covert ways of re-naming logging to avoid litigation. The stewardship authorities have been effective in seducing environmental groups into becoming plantation managers.

3. Biomass and cellulosic ethanol. These are new and destructive ways to mine the nutrients of the soil, depleting it to the point where it will not grow forest.

So the next time you hear the logging industry come out swinging at people of honor and conscience, go look at what's left of your forest. Glance out the window on your next flight over the Northwest. It does not take long to see why they cannot speak to the real issues; the truth will force them to change, if not destroy them.

Help us stop them. Help start us on a path to rebuild our nation instead of tearing it down.

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Tim Hermach of Eugene is president of the Native Forest Council.
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Title Annotation:Commentary
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 24, 2008
Words:842
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