Why Our Forests Stay Green
Regarding the Jan. 8 article, "On Yankee Farms, Firs Supplant Spuds," praise is deserved for reporting what many call the most underreported environmental story of the past 50 years: the regeneration of Eastern forests. In fact, all the nation's forests have experienced tremendous growth, and not just because farmers have given up on row crops.
The Soil Bank Program in the '50s and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) of 1985 provided powerful incentives for farmers to put millions of acres of marginal cropland back into trees.
Still, if you deduct trees planted under CRP, annual regeneration has held constant at about 2.3 million acres a year since 1980. This suggests that good stewardship and a commitment by industry also play a big role. Forest products companies own 14 percent of US timberland, but they planted 43 percent of all regenerated acres in '95. Another 42 percent was planted by 9.9 million individual citizens and families; only seven percent of them are full-time farmers. These private owners are responsible for 290 million acres of timberland, four times as much as industry and about twice as much as the government.
Laurence D. Wiseman
American Forest Foundation
Fine line between red ink and green
The Jan. 24 article, "Butting Heads With the Environmental Status Quo," showed that environmental groups continue to promote the false notion that the federal government subsidizes the forest industry and thereby loses money. The government has never lost money on its timber program. However, that is very close to happening because of massive harvesting cutbacks and the extreme and unnecessary rules and regulations environmental groups have insisted be placed on the harvesting that still occurs.
Y. Leon Favreau
Multiple Use Association
I recently testified at EPA hearings that the Monitor should be printed in green ink, so readers could understand where its environmental reporting was coming from. Your story on federal resource policy and opinion page article, "Take the Cleaver to 'Polluter Pork,'" continued that fine tradition.
To control government expenditure in resource policy, we must cease paying bureaucrats. The legal defense of often conflicting statutes increases by several orders of magnitude our government's investment in paperwork. The resulting production is inversely proportional to the bureaucratic effort expended.
Reformers are not entirely without legitimate concerns, yet many green 'cost cutters' are effectuating the management gridlock which balloons costs of the programs they say are too expensive. Their political opponents are ready for an honest discussion of subsidy, when these environmental whiners are ready for an honest discussion of multiple use goals on federal land. Multiple use includes resource production which serves the consumer/taxpayer as much or more than it does the producer.
We would like to "clear the waters" regarding the Dec. 2 article, "Fed Up With the Feds, Locals Take On Great Lakes Cleanup." We appreciated the coverage of our efforts, but we found the article's title misleading.
Many organizations have greatly benefitted from financial and technical support provided by federal agencies. In fact, their assistance has been crucial to the success of many water-quality protection projects.
We cannot understand why such a provocative title was chosen for a non-controversial article, which, if anything, underscored the value of federal-local partnerships. Please be assured that we have appreciated federal agencies' support in the past and will cooperate with them to protect the area's natural resources in the future.
Traverse City, Mich.
Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative
Grand Traverse Conservation District
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