May 31, 2007 at 7:35 pm (environmental, medicine, political)


            The biggest threat that the forest faces is logging.  Now I understand basic forestry and ecology concepts.  There is such a thing as weeding on a large scale that does help the forest, such as removing Popple (Large-Tooth or Quaking Aspen), a tree with poor quality wood that tends to strip the soil depriving other trees of precious nutrients.   What is going on far surpasses that though.  The CNNF is the most heavily logged forest in the country. It is logged at a rate of 116 million board feet of lumber each year.  Between 1992 to 2001, 188,000 acres were logged.  At the current rate it is being logged it will be gone in 45 years.   The Bush administration, in their infinite wisdom and sagacity (sarcasm people, sarcasm) is opening more than 70,000 acres of the Northwoods to logging and mining.  The Forest Service plan that I included a link to in the previous section allows massive logging projects which require construction or reconstruction of over 100 miles of roads in order to provide loggers access to almost 45,000 acres of the CNNF.  This is beyond retarded to me because, in addition to all the environmental and moral reasons this is a bad idea, non-timber values in Wisconsin National Forests are ten times that of timber revenues, recreational visitors spend over $1 billion in the Northwoods annually. 

    Legally there has been a small ray of hope as the Environmental Law and Policy Center contested 3 out the 5 major timber sales by the forestry service and won, saving a significant portion of the 13,000 acres that would have been destroyed (3,000 of those acres would have been clear-cut).  The three contested sales were the Howell, the McCaslin and the Cayuga.  The Howell and the Cayuga are some of the last forests that are old growth, the final remnants of the mammoth pines (and I mean mammoth, trees that had the diameter of a buick) that used to dominate eighty-five percent of the Northwoods, but now are only two percent of the CNNF.   The Howell parcel has one of the largest population of goblin fern, a species that is state endangered and globally rare.  It is also in the heart of pine marten habitat, which is also on the Wisconsin endangered species list.  The McCaslin contains old growth hardwoods which in turn are ideal habitat for declining populations of goshawks and red-shouldered hawks.  It also supports fragile populations of eastern timberwolves and cerulean warblers.  The sale of the Cayuga would have destroyed large stands of yellow birch. Yellow birch is not doing so well in Wisconsin National Forests because of the short rotation logging practiced by the Forestry Service.  This practice boost the deer population but the deer eat most of the yellow birch seedlings.  This is also true for white pine, white cedar and hemlock.  Ordinarily large fallen yellow birch trees become nurse log habitats for the next generation seedlings, without this protection the seedlings are quite vulnerable.  Fallen yellow birch also reduce fire risk by retaining moisture (there have already been two fires in the forest this year) and they provide habitat for countless insects, fungi and are shelter for wildlife like pine marten, blowing the theory espoused by a lot of the locals around here that deadfall harvesting is not harmful.  The Cayuga is also home to fairy shrimp.  These little guys are very rare and are found elsewhere only in California and Oregon.  They require pools with no other fish and as shrinking natural ecosystems become more crowded these fellows are losing out globally. 

   The fact that these sales were contested and won does not mean the forest is permanently safe however, pardon the pun but in no way shape or form are we out of the woods.  The Northwoods is primarily private or corporate lands.  Much of the land is owned by the paper companies and they can do whatever they want with their land.  The need for forest products needs to decline so we can starve and destroy these corporations.  Our planets survival depends on the fact that we stop cutting down our oxygen supply and the photosynthetic organisms that ‘breathe” the carbon dioxide out of our air.  I will not be able to stress enough throughout all the installments I write how gravely important it is we realize how interconnected all life and this planet really are.

  Another case in point are beavers.  I love beavers, but they are doing too well.  Beavers love Popple, which springs up like mad in clear cut areas or where the forest canopy has been opened up to let enough sunlight in.  The beavers dam up the trout streams which make the streams too warm for the fish.  Over half of the class one trout streams in the CNNF are too warm for brook trout to reproduce now.  Too many of a particular creature is as detrimental to an ecosystem as too little.  Nature is a delicate balancing act, we must respect this. 

  Not only do we need to continue fighting deforestation but we need to start actively trying to propagate trees.  We know enough about ecology to be able to restore these lands to their natural glory.  An idea like the Civilian Conservation Corps should be revisited I feel.  Forest stewardship needs to be a the top of our agenda, not something we cut the funding for when money gets tight in our government.  Nature heals us.  Green is the color of healing, the color of life.  Study after study, testamonial after testamonial speaks of the regenerative power of forests.  The soothing effect they have on the nerves, the ability they have to allow us to return to ourselves and center ourselves.  Honestly, I shouldn’t even have to “sell” this though.  The Earth, Nature, is our Mother.  We are killing the beautiful Goddess that gave us life, in addition to all her other children.  That is the real point in all of this, we are committing murder, and we all have the blood on our hands.  The only chance of redemption is to stop this, not because of our survival being threatened, but because it is right thing to do.



  1. Tony said,

    So, where were you when the 2004 Forest Plan was approved? Given your statements, your claimed knowledge of basic ecology is highly suspect. What makes you think that the forest was long-lived as a general characteristic? If that were true, then many of the species that you mentioned in your previous post would not exist because they thrive in younger tree stands. Granted, we may not have as many acres that have older stands of trees, but so what? As you mention, our (and I mean ‘society’ here) early 20th century actions are responsible for that. But so what? Even if trees were planted immediately after that event, those trees today would still be less than 100 years old. In the context of ecology, that is infantile. Let’s be thankful that Hoover and Roosevelt had the foresight to make these lands ‘national forests’ – lands that are available to all of us to use responsibly and sustainably. I don’t advocate rampant destruction of public lands, but again, your view of what is ‘damage’ is unsubstantiated, especially when put into the context of the 1.5+ million acres of this national forest. What happens on this national forest pales in comparison to our society’s actions elsewhere…are you fighting those fights as vigorously as the one you wage here?

  2. etheria888 said,

    I started writing in 2007, unfortunately later than that forest plan was approved. I do have a basic knowledge of ecology, I took Biology 250 in college which is principles of ecology, I am no expert, but I am no idiot either. In the life span of trees, trees that are 50 years old are young. We humans with our meager lifespans of 80 years don’t realize that forests do not even begin to show their true majesty until they are AT LEAST 150-200 years old, and left undisturbed, no deadfall harvesting nothing of the like. These are places that are holy, and they deserved to be treated as such. I find it very sad that you have such a cavalier attitude, it shows you have very little perspective or wisdom that you would look at another life-form (especially one that provides our oxygen) so cheaply. Your statement about I don’t advocate rampant destruction is but an afterthought, it is quite obvious that you are just like those I speak out against, you look at the land like you are somehow removed from it. I am very thankful that Hoover and Roosevelt had the foresight that they did, if they didn’t we’d be living in a wasteland, but complacency is the enemy here. Everyday more and more trees are chopped down, and when you are chopping down trees in parcels of land in the heart of a larger forest, you are in essence, dividing something that used to be whole, weakening even the parts that are left standing. Every little bit counts, rarely ever do threats of this nature come in large chunks, they gradually wear down, and win by slow attrition. Far too much has been taken already. I have seen historical society pictures of the trees that used to be in this area, and I am not exaggerating when I say these trees were the diameter of buicks. I don’t know about you, but I want a world where the trees dominate and I feel humbled by the mere sight of them. I want a world where we as humans live modestly and instead of powerlines and office buildings I see Nature in her untamed majesty. I want a world where I walk in the “enchanted” forests of my ancient ancestors. Maybe its not the world you want but that is your opinion and your allowed to have it, I hope that one day you learn return that respect. And as to am I fighting other fights as vigorously as I am this one, no, because whether you agree or not, we are all going to die if we don’t stop destroying our habitat, yes we might all die in a nuclear winter, but to me the most immediate threat we face as a species comes from the our lack of respect for our Mother. Our environment is the most fundamental thing period, and it is my most fervent belief that if we start focusing on healing, both ourselves and the earth (which by the way my blog covers numerous subjects) all other issues will fall in place. Most of us are sick, and we do the horrible things that we do because of that sickness. You are looking at things from your own egocentric perspective, I suggest you start looking at things through someone elses or should I say something else’s perspective, you will find it most enlightening.

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