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Old Adversaries Attempt To Forge Forest Policy That Will End Hostilities

All else having failed - spiked sawtimber, spotted owls, logging truck caravans, armed standoffs - is it time for coexistence, cooperation, reason and incentives?

A panel of forest policy wonks in Washington state has developed strategies aimed at helping to bury the hatchet.

These peacemakers from both camps say loggers and environmentalists need not be bitter enemies.

And forest-industry economic gains needn’t equal environmental and ecological ruination.

But to change traditional forest-management practices from a negative for one side or the other into a plus for both, old adversarial relationships must be cast aside.

And mutually beneficial economic and environmental goals must be forged.

Or all involved will continue to suffer. Inevitably. And needlessly.

This is the thrust of a new report based on a series of brainstorming sessions convened by the Northwest Policy Center at the University of Washington.

Representatives of different perspectives - landowners, environmentalists, researchers and policy-makers - were challenged to develop dual-purpose policy approaches that both protect the environment and boost the economy.

The idea is to nurture and grow forest wealth - instead of just ripping off nature.

After months of meetings, the panel advocated economic incentives in eight key areas. Researcher Kirk Johnson of the Northwest Policy Center discussed the conclusions in an interview and an article in the center’s newsletter.

“These incentives,” says Johnson, “have the potential to improve simultaneously the forest environment, create a more stable regulatory climate, enhance landowner profitability, expand the value-added wood products sector, and improve the fortunes of forest-based communities.”

The recommendations are far too extensive and technical (not to mention tedious) to detail here. In broad thrust, the incentives would encourage and financially reward landowners for voluntarily adopting management practices designed to achieve these ends:

Maintain the forest land base.

Conserve biodiversity, including native species.

Increase regulatory stability and predictability.

Maintain the long-term capacity of the forests to produce both economic and environmental benefits.

Expand markets for value-added forest products.

(Copies of Building Forest Wealth: Incentives for Biodiversity, Landowner Profitability, and Value Added Manufacturing are available for $10 from Northwest Policy Center. The address is 327 Parrington Hall, DC-14, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195. Or phone (206) 543-7900.)

The importance of a solution was underscored by economic data presented last month in Spokane by forest industries analyst Richard S. Conway Jr.

The Seattle economist was hired by private and public forest industry interests to update timber’s impact on Washington workers, consumers and employers.

His figures show that, despite losing 4,000 jobs between 1988 and 1992, the forest products industry continues to constitute the second-largest economic base in Washington - right behind Boeing.

Timber accounts for $9.4 billion or about 8 percent of the Gross State Product. The industry directly employs more than 58,000 workers who earn $2.2 billion in wages. Indirectly, the industry supports 213,000 Washington jobs - or one of every 13 - which represent an additional $8.5 billion in personal income.

“Although increasingly smaller numbers of people will be engaged in the forest products industry, it will continue to give the Washington economy a firm foundation,” predicted the veteran regional forecaster. “In some ways, it will emerge from its current problems a much stronger industry.”

Speaking of growing trees, a reader claims she has an answer to the problem of “citified” deer cited in Sunday’s newspaper. State Fish & Wildlife officials say drought has created urban pests of deer, which strip trees and bushes in people’s yards, and there’s no sure-fire solution.

But Doris Mussil of Spokane and her husband have a second home in Hamilton, Mont., which they deer-proof with little bars of “motel-size” soap.

The trick is to decorate every year without fail, using one to four bars of soap, depending on the size of tree. Poke a hole through the middle of the bar, attach a string, and hang it from a branch at deer level. That’s what she says.


The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review