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Environmentalists sometimes their own worst enemies
Posted by: McQ on Monday, May 08, 2006

Few deny that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment. No one wants dirty air or water or the like. So environmental arguments usually aren't about that as much as to the extent to which we should act in safeguarding the environment. Most agree with reasonable environmental precautions which safeguard the environment while still faciliatating human freedoms and economc growth.

On the other hand are groups that want extreme precautions which would stifle both. Sometimes that makes much of the enviromental movement, which tends to favor extreme measures, it's own worst enemy.

For instance, this story out of Colorado:
While beetles at low levels always exist on Grand Mesa National Forest, some foresters worry the area may be on the verge of a beetle disaster.

“It’s at the edge of possibly blowing up and killing a lot of trees,” said forester Kitty Tattersall of the Paonia and Grand Valley ranger districts. “We’re worried it could become a problem.”

Mostly, foresters are concerned about the spruce beetle, whose outbreaks are normally triggered by blowdowns.

Last October, violent winds toppled trees near the Alexander Lake area on the mesa, creating the potential for a spruce beetle epidemic.

Spruce beetles usually emerge two years after the event that triggers the beetle outbreak. By June 2008, Tattersall said, the adult beetles should be ready to find new, healthy trees to infect.

It usually takes a week for a spruce beetle to find a new host, and with winds, the beetle can fly up to 40 miles from its host tree, according to officials with Colorado State University.

The Forest Service has begun an environmental process to analyze the effects of removing the trees for timber sale to interested mills. Most likely, those mills interested in purchasing the timber will be those located nearby on the Western Slope.

“We’re fortunate to have timber mills of decent size near the forest,” Tattersall said, adding it could make removal of the trees easier and more timely. “Our hope is to get most of those downed trees out before June of 2008.”
Let's review. Spruce beetles threaten the Grand Mesa National Forest because of excessive tree blowdown last year. A bumper crop of adult beetles will have developed by June '08 and they will seek new live hosts. The Forest Service has a plan to sell the blown down trees to local mills to remove the threat prior to June '08.

Now I don't know about you, but that sounds both reasonable and prudent. It makes perfect sense.

But there's always a beetle in the ointment. Enter environmentalists:
Lawsuits, however, could slow the process.

Tattersall said environmental groups opposed to the sale could take the Forest Service to court, thereby slowing the removal of the downed trees.

“Then we would be delayed, and the beetles would be starting into things,” she said.
Remember, right now, it can be handled:
Currently, the situation on Grand Mesa has been classified at a manageable level.

“Active management of these trees will make a difference,” Tattersall said. “If you have millions of beetles, it’s hard to stop them, but if you get the beetles out from the blowdown, you can get them out and keep them out.”
Should those lawsuits be filed and delay the harvesting of the blown down trees, the infestation will mature and the beetles will then fly out to new, live hosts, the Grand Mesa National Forest may cease to exist and others may be threatened.
It usually takes a week for a spruce beetle to find a new host, and with winds, the beetle can fly up to 40 miles from its host tree, according to officials with Colorado State University.
But if they win, those nasty old lumber mills would be denied a profit (dare I say "windfall?"), and apparently that's much more important than the survival of a forest.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

When Grand Mesa ceases to exist Earth First will blame the Republithugs and George Bush 43 and demand "Action"... no one will connect their obstructionism to the outbreak.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
There are a number of different competing visions of what the United States should be like and, in particular, how public spaces should be used and managed.

One view is best typified by RR’s comment “You’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all”. Don’t be concerned about the status of the wilderness areas. Use whatever you can. Maximize usage by all parties.

Another view is that these areas should be pristine: let nature take its course. Limit or eliminate commercial utilization. Limit or eliminate public access. Minimize usage.

Another view is stewardship: do your best to manage the resource. Some commerical use is okay; some access is okay. Optimize usage. It will not be a pristine wilderness: it will be the best-managed space that the standards of the times, available finances, chance, and the state of knowledge will allow. I lean towards this view and I take this post as doing the same.

Holders of any of these views can never be happy with any of the others—any compromise means that all three views lose.
Written By: Dave Schuler
I lean towards this view and I take this post as doing the same.
Yup, although I’d contend that this view is the compromise of the other two.
Written By: McQ
That’s why I phrased my comment the way I did, McQ. Only people who believe in optimization are capable of compromise. For those who are committed to either maximizing or minimizing there’s only complete victory or complete loss.
Written By: Dave Schuler
That’s why I phrased my comment the way I did, McQ.
Ah, caught it on the reread.
Written By: McQ
Um, delivery of those logs to a mill does not mean that they will be cut into lumber immediately. I have lived next to a lumbermill and they store logs for an extended period once on site to ensure the proper moisture levels and consistency. I do not think that the timeline suggested by your report is as cut and dry (no pun intended) as you infer. Gathering and shipping the infected logs might spread the beetle instead of eliminating it. Environmental policy is about well informed decisions not rash solutions to percieved problems.
Written By: devin
URL: http://
I do not think that the timeline suggested by your report is as cut and dry (no pun intended) as you infer. Gathering and shipping the infected logs might spread the beetle instead of eliminating it.
Obviously this didn’t happen today, thus the levels you’re pointing too could be mostly there and storage at the lumber facility could be minimal (they have a year after all).

Certainly, if the logs aren’t processed before June of ’08, the beetles may indeed swarm anyway, but that can be part of the stipulations written into any contract by the Forest Service, any logs not processed before June of ’08 must be destroyed by fire (or whatever). Fairly easy to monitor for compliance.

But we can be assured that if the logs are still laying in the forest in June of ’08, nothing will stop the further infestation of the forest.
Written By: McQ
I read the story and I still don’t understand what the lawsuit is over (besides a bunch of Enviro-commies acting like d*cks)
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I’ve seen more than a few salvage timber operations (mainly from burnt areas) turn into, if not rape and ruin, certainly a lot more than "salvage".

Not just partially burnt trees, not just "necessary to build roads", but lots of good healthy trees that just happen to be in the vicinity are sold off at sale prices under the umbrella of a salvage sale. The usual excuse is that some valuable timber must be included to make it "economically attractive" to the logging company.

If the lawsuit is about that, more power to the "environmentalists".
Written By: bud
URL: http://
This reminds me of the environmentalists who railed against thinning of the forests when we were losing millions of acres a year to forest fires a couple years back. The build-up of underbrush and deadfall which had been accumulating since the 1930’s was a man-made effect, not natural at all. Yet, certain environmentalists protested that this artificial situation had to be left intact because of the damage logging could do. As if superhot forest fires, fueled by 60 years of human suppression of the natural fire cycle, and which the ecosystem was not evolved to deal with, were preferable to a few roads and cut trees.

The truly ironic thing about this spruce forest story, however, is that the US Forest Service is under the Department of Agriculture. These trees are meant to be managed. This isn’t the National Park Service (Department of the Interior) we’re talking about, here. The USFS is in the timber management business, not the preservation business. It does some preservation work, but that’s a secondary role.
Written By: BrianOfAtlanta
URL: http://

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