Target: Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell
Goal: End the practice of logging public lands at the expense of taxpayers.
Taxpayers subsidize logging operations in our national forests to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) spends this money preparing an area to be cut by building roads and sometimes, after the cutting is over, trying to repair some of the damage left by the loggers. It is government policy to give loggers wood well below market prices with the taxpayer funds making up the difference. It is also policy to reward federal forest service districts, after they complete logging projects, with whatever revenue was collected. As a result, neither loggers nor the USFS have any incentive to end the practice of conducting logging operations at taxpayers’ expense.
Many taxpayers who respect and cherish our public lands never realize it is their dollars that underwrite the destructive effects of logging operations. Some don’t realize that our forests are logged for profit by commercial loggers and often without any competitive bidding. Sometimes, these activities are conducted in the name of preventing fire or disease, but they always end with the same outcome. Corporate loggers pay next to nothing for the product they take and often without regard for the damage they do while the taxpayer picks up the bill.
Ecological research reveals naturally-occurring forest fires have many beneficial effects and removing trees as a means of preventing fire is scientifically questionable. Further, labeling the incidence of fire ‘catastrophic’ is a misnomer because forests can regenerate stronger. It’s true that communities need to be protected from fire that can involve removing trees too close to homes, but logging in remote areas, far from where people live in the name of fire protection, exhausts precious resources and doesn’t protect anyone.
Logging public lands, often destructively, at taxpayer expense means the people are paying to undermine their own legacy and that has to stop.
Again, all of this is why we need qualified public advocates, Citizen Ombudsmen, representing our interests.
Dear Secretary Jewell,
When the U.S. Forest Service plans its logging operations, it never has to think about the wishes of the American taxpayer even though it’s the taxpayer who covers the operating costs. Even as we are constantly told the marketplace makes better decisions for our economy, market pricing plays no role in the price a logger pays when logging public lands. Loggers of public lands don’t have to pay a market price because the taxpayer pays it for them. If logging our woods had to pay for itself, loggers would not be as eager to cut it.
At the same time as we pay for logging operations with our tax dollars, Americans pump millions in revenue into our public lands, every year, through user fees and the support of forest vendors like those offering accommodations. The taxpayer is the government’s source of operating revenue for our public lands whether the money is used to save the land or scar it, but we have no voice in developing proposals and can even be closed out of commenting on them.
Because the public has no voice in the development of logging proposals, it cannot insist that logging operations pay for themselves and yet, is charged for them. That has to stop. We should not be charged for logging our public legacy and the public’s opinion about how their money is spent should matter.
Again, this is why we need qualified public advocates, Citizen Ombudsmen, representing our interests.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ernst Vikne