Logging on Public Lands: A Chainsaw Massacre
As long as humans have lived in forested areas, they have cut down trees for lumber and/or to clear space for agricultural purposes. However, this practice has resulted in the destruction and near extinction of our national forests. Today, fewer than five percent of our country's original forests remain (Thirteen) and the U.S. Forest Service continues to allow more than 136,000 square miles to be logged each year (Byrant). Even more alarming, is the fact that only twenty percent of the current public forest lands are permanently protected by law, leaving nearly eighty percent to be consumed by chainsaws and bulldozers (Heritage...).
National forests, or the sections of land set aside by the government for public use, were first established in 1891. It wasn't until June 4, 1897, however, that the first logging operations were permitted (Ending...). Since then, approximately forty million acres of national forest have been destroyed (Thirteen). According to Dominick DellaSala, the Director of U.S. Conservation Programs, "The United States currently has one of the poorest forest protection standards of any developed nation on Earth" (Wildlands...). For a good part of this century, our national forests have been heavily logged, mined and exploited for the good of corporate America, destroying much of our worlds delicate forest ecosystems. There is absolutely no justification economically, nor ecologically to allow logging operations to continue in our national forests (Thirteen...).
Logging not only destroys trees, it also wrecks havoc on fish and wildlife habitats. Logging clouds streams with sedimentation, smothers spawning beds and raises water temperatures by removing the shade provided by the tree canopy (Thirteen...). Old-growth forests are also important to many animals because they provide an essential habitat, away from human's pollution and noise. Forests are a vital part of our worlds ecosystem. The trees provide us with oxygen through photosynthesis, eliminate potentially harmful carbon dioxide from the air and help to lower the atmospheric temperature. The layers of organic matter on the forest floor work with other organisms such as fungi, microorganisms, and natural humus to release important nutrients into the soil and forest plants act as a major source of medicines (Brownstone p.34). Our national forests provide more than half of our nation's remaining wildlife habitats (Thirteen...), including those of several endangered species such as the wolf, the grizzly bear and the salmon (Prig...). According to Dominick DellaSala, our nations forests contain "the highest levels of biodiversity anywhere in the temperate world" (Wildlands...). National forests also provide us with an abundance of natural resources, as well as clean drinking water to 1,000 communities nationwide (Prig...). Despite all these contributions, however, we continue to allow commercial...