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Sustainable Forestry Works
Emily Gertz, 29 Jul 04

Strictly speaking, this Salon article is an explicit--and effective--critique of the Bush administration's timber/forest policies. However, it also describes beautifully how forest-restoration-based jobs and local entrepreneurship helped a California timber community (with an economy based on a limited natural resource, pretty much the domestic U.S. equivalent of the developing world).

The economic transition was funded by a Bush Sr. initiative, 1989's Economic Action Program. Bush Jr. cut the funding; his own forest policy is channeling business to Big Timber at the expense of local jobs and businesses.

Lynn Jungwirth, director of the Watershed Research and Training Center...has seen firsthand how much help the EAP grants have brought to rural communities. Her husband, Jim Jungwirth, was one of the first recipients of EAP support in Hayfork. His wood-flooring business, which uses small-diameter timber that in the past was not considered valuable, has been a success. The business now has 12 employees.

Frustration is evident in her voice as Jungwirth explains how Hayfork had become a national leader in innovation, working with the Forest Service and experimenting with new business ideas. She is stunned that her community, which played such a role in the EAP plans, is still mired in poverty.

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Timber is just a part of the agriculture business in the US. A good portion of it has been third-world for many years. Small dairy farms and cattle operations in particular. Look for surveys that cite the incidence of second incomes in the household and second job incidence among people who used to call themselves farmers. About twenty years ago farm land prices began to dive and yuppies started to buy from the farmers for retirement. Yes, custom and contract farming saved a bunch. And yes, getting bigger saved some more. Conservation farming techniques such as low-till have done good things for everybody but have not made anybody more profitable in a really big way.

The whole thing is complex. Personally, I think we should give the entire fishing industry government jobs and wait for the fisheries to return. The example cited in the article reminds me of getting a grant to learn to make fish sticks out of minnows. Stupid suggestion ---> How about teaching people who have few trees to make logs out of grass clippings?

Shouldn't we be working on sustainability?

Posted by: Bob Calder on 30 Jul 04



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