WHERE’S THE BALANCE BETWEEN GOOD LAND MANAGEMENT AND POLITICS?



Walked into a logging operation within a 1/2 mile from my home.

Stumpage on state and county lands is being sold off at amounts not seen in years. Former DNR Commissioner Landwehr greatly increase the amount to be cut on state lands and most counties have increased their timber sales. The current DNR commissioner, Sarah Strommen is allowing timber sales on WMAs. It's not just aspen on WMAs but oaks, tamaracks, maples, basswoods, etc.  Many people are aware of the letter by 25 DNR wildlife managers opposing the logging on WMAs which is being ignored. The cumulative of this is a huge impact on wildlife.

I am not opposed to sustainable logging as this is part of the price we have sacrificed in having and keeping a huge amount of public lands in Minnesota but it is becoming very apparent that this has become a big give-away to "big timber." Bear in mind that every time a parcel is logged, the diversity is diminished.

Driving through some state forests, they resemble tree farms with the greatest bulk of land dominated by aspen. Our state and county forest lands look more like corn fields than diverse forest habitats. I know some state foresters that are very good forest ecologists, in fact one is a good friend and I go to him often for answers to questions I have concerning forestry but then I know many more that are schills to big timber.

I am aware that logging is a different animal as compared to other extractive industries; unlike mining and oil a logged area recovers very fast. What looks like the land was raped by timber cutting will be an oasis of newly suckered sprouts of aspen by mid-summer....growing 6 to 8 feet in one growing season but I am concerned about the diversity of our forests. One hundred year old oaks will bear acorns for another 200 years. A logged lowland conifer area means winter protection for deer and a huge host of other nongame wildlife and may mean life or death for many species. Diversity is stability and health!

I do not blame the loggers as many are only doing what the prescribe sale demands. They are like many small farmers, in debt with the big machinery they have to make payments on. The problem is in the crystal palace of the DNR in St. Paul and the immense timber lobby at the legislature. They care less about fishers, Blackburnian warblers, snowshoe hares....and the list goes on. The balance between good land management and politics is not a balance anymore...the scale is tipped greatly to industry/politics.

~Barry Babcock