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Spotted Owls and Loggers

I’m distressed that you published Mark A. Stein’s one-sided lament for loggers in Sweet Home, Ore., who are supposedly losing work because environmentalists are trying to save the spotted owl.

We in the U.S. decry Brazil’s and Indonesia’s felling of their tropical rain forests while we decimate our own old-growth forest at an equally reckless rate, contributing to the same global crises: release of carbon dioxide, exacerbating the greenhouse effect; and loss of habitat, reducing species diversity.

The “jobs vs. environment” dichotomy is a red herring. Most timber unemployment has resulted from modernization of mill equipment. More jobs are lost because so many logs are now shipped, unprocessed, to Japan. (We harvest more wood than we need and sell 25% to Japan. Yet the Forest Service proposes chopping 25% more over the next decade!)

A study by resource economist Jeffrey T. Olson shows that taking 25% less wood would eliminate only 2,300 jobs in 40 years.

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Industry “research” to duplicate spotted owl habitat in the monoculture tree plantations with which it replaces nature’s forests is absurd. What about all the other old growth-dependent species whose survival is threatened by ever-shrinking habitat--grizzly bear, gray wolf, mountain lion, mountain goat, wolverine, lynx, fisher, flying squirrel, red tree vole, bog lemming, rough-skinned newt, Olympic salamander, tailed frog, goshawk, harlequin duck, marbled murrelet, pileated, red-cockaded and three-toed woodpecker, elegant trogon, red crossbill, olive-sided flycatcher?

DON STRACHAN

Topanga


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