Letter to the Editor
I am writing in response to the
Highest Bidder Not a Logger news item in the March-April 2002 issue.
[Environmentalists bid on federal timber harvest with no intention of ever
The issue is, "Should a party
be allowed to bid on any commodity sale where they have no intention of
completing the transaction?" Several representatives of various groups have
opined that the decision should be a "no brainer" for agency managers;
you get the same money either way and the resource stays in place. This seems to
be the reasoning to which Mark Rey has subscribed.
But there is a very simple and
basic principle that I have yet to see expounded by our economists, policy
analysts or political appointees. The principle is this: Wealth has to be
created and is only created at the point of initial extraction. From the point
of initial extraction, everyone that participates in the processing of the
resource theoretically profits from the value added as products are developed
But, none of these individuals are
creating wealth. They are only increasing the market value of the base material
and acting as a distributor of the value derived from the initial harvesting of
the resource. It's a system and it's no more complicated than the concept that
the commodities on which all humans depend have to come from somewhere.
One of my economics professors was
fond of saying, "We can't make a living by doing each others laundry."
So, the decision to harvest timber or allow any other activity affecting
resource use should be based on the economic systems, environmental regulations
and the social standards of our society. Timber sales should not be a bidding
war between competing interests, only competing lumber mills. A more effective
approach to long term land use needs to be formulated.
In most cases it is not an
either/or proposal. Conservation groups can play a much more effective and
beneficial role by using their political power and economic resources to craft
these policies, rather than buying timber sales. Expanding worldwide populations
coupled with a demand for a higher standard of living are the core global
realities fueling the requirement for the increased production of raw materials
to begin the processing and distribution cycle.
These processes need to be
conducted in a sustainable and environmentally feasible manner. Here's a real
life example. My neighbor is a small woodland owner with approximately 200 acres
divided between pasture and commercial size timber. He makes a living building
airplanes. Recently, an adjacent landowner sold his land to a developer who
subsequently planned to harvest all the timber. My neighbor wanted to preserve
the timber in his view shed so he arranged to purchase a portion of the property
with the timber intact.
But to fund the purchase, he had
to harvest some of his standing timber. No group or individual came forward with
the necessary funds to purchase his timber and maintain it as a preserve. If
they had, it would have been a "no brainer". He would have the money
to purchase the additional land and his timber resource would still be in place.
But here's what happened instead. To complete the transaction and harvest the
timber, he employed the following:
o A realtor and title companies to
complete the land transfer.
o A consulting forester to cruise
the timber. The mill purchasing the timber hired a consulting forester for a
o A surveyor to survey and record
the new property lines.
o The logger and his crew of 10
for approximately a month.
o The mill to process several
hundred thousand board feet of raw material
o The local forest nursery that
sold him 18,000 seedlings for reforestation.
o A local reforestation contractor
employed a crew for a week to plant the trees.
o A local reforestation company
applied herbicide to kill competing vegetation.
None of these functions other than
the survey and real estate transaction would have occurred without the harvest
of his timber. We have to get past the concept of competing groups. This is
about creating wealth from our natural resources and doing it in a manner that
sustains the environment that is producing the raw material.
Steve Truesdell, Forester Oregon
Department of Forestry Roseburg, OR
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