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Salvage Logging Can’t Be Sloppy


The current hubbub over a logging operation in the Boise National Forest proves timber companies must dot every “i” and cross every “t” when cutting the region’s burned-over forests.

A “fair” or even “good” salvage cut won’t stop environmentalists from squawking about the damage - real and imagined - done to forest, streams and critters.

Sloppy salvage efforts will undermine the important bipartisan work done by Northwest congressmen to expedite logging of the region’s forests that were ravaged by wildfire last summer.

Much is at stake, including thousands of jobs and the economic health of timber-dependent Northwest towns.

President Clinton apparently is reconsidering his threatened veto of forest-health legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, which would protect salvage logging from environmentalists’ lawsuits. The legislation is needed to prevent fire-damaged trees from going to waste. Such trees lose their economic value after two years.

The clock is ticking.

Environmentalists view the salvage-logging legislation as part of an unparalleled assault by Congress on U.S. environmental laws. They fear the timber industry will take a mile if given an inch. The controversial cut in the Boise forest, by Boise Cascade, has fanned those fears and provided fresh fodder for their shrill campaign.

The Idaho state Department of Lands, which manages endowment land to raise money for schools, cited Boise Cascade for three violations of Idaho’s Forest Practices Act. State inspections found Boise Cascade had piled logs too close to Thorn Creek in one location and had diverted the creek in another.

Boise Cascade also fueled criticism by legally, but foolishly, clearcutting 7,000 acres, leaving the ground unprotected by shade. Salvage loggers normally leave enough dead trees, or snags, to provide wildlife habitat and shade needed for regrowth.

The timber company, which logged by helicopter to minimize damage, acknowledged its errors and corrected what problems it could. Still, a state forester admitted Boise Cascade and the state didn’t do everything they could have (though he also said the cut wasn’t “the disaster some people are making it out to be.”)

“It’s unfortunate that right out of the blocks, we had a salvage operation with problems,” said Ken Kohli, spokesman for the Intermountain Forest Industries Association. “We’re ready to meet the demand for a perfect performance. Ninety-nine percent doesn’t work this time.”

He’s right.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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