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Commercial Logging
Protecting the Allegheny National Forest

By law, national forests are to be managed for multiple-use, including recreation, watersheds, wildlife and fish, timber, and range purposes. Wilderness was later added with the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. However, one of the common misperceptions about multiple-use, particularly when it comes to timber extraction, is that logging is mandated in national forests. This could not be further from the truth. Logging is a particular use of a national forest that can be legally halted if it is shown to be incompatible with other land uses and sustainability.

Our national forests make up just 25% of the forest land in the United States. In Pennsylvania, the Allegheny makes up less than 3% of the Commonwealth's forest land. However, national forests are responsible for nearly 100% of the burden of protecting natural ecosystems for native wildlife, biodiversity, recreation and tourism and non-timber forest products. Private lands simply do not provide these services to the extent national forests do.

Despite these known benefits of national forests, the Forest Service has perpetually sided with the timber industry to extract what makes our national forests so attractive and vital for wildlife - our trees. By ignoring, or at least greatly under-representing, the values that national forests provide for other services, the Forest Service has made tree farms out of many of our national forests to the benefit of large timber corporations.

The Forest Service is no doubt managing the Allegheny to increase black cherry due to its high economic value. This compromises other uses - let's face it, few people enjoy camping in the middle of a clearcut. More importantly, research has shown that logging, particularly the even-aged logging used in the Allegheny, with subsequent herbicide spraying exacerbates the acidification of the soil. This results in decreased diversity. With the consistent degradation of our soils it is questionable how long the Allegheny will be able to produce a sustained yield, much less overall forest sustainability.


Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest Named Among America's Special Mention Endangered National Forests

In March, a nationwide coalition of environmental groups released a new report identifying the national forests at greatest risk from logging and documents the Bush Administration's attempts to eliminate public oversight of environmental laws. Greenpeace and the National Forest Protection Alliance (NFPA) released Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms in response to the Administration's unprecedented attacks on America's national forests. Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University joined the groups at the March press conference launching the report to call for an end to logging in these national treasures.

"Scientists have reached a deeper understanding of the value of the National Forest System that needs to be kept front and center," said Dr. Wilson. "They represent a public trust too valuable to be managed as tree farms for the production of pulp, paper and lumber. The time has come to free national forests from political partisanship, and to use their treasures to benefit all Americans."

Forests were selected based on several criteria, including water quality, road construction, the presence of endangered species, timber sale volume and economics, and the percentage of remaining old-growth and roadless areas. Chosen as the 10 most endangered forests were Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (Ariz./N.M.), Bitterroot National Forest (Mont.), Black Hills National Forest (S.D.), Chequemegan-Nicolet National Forest (Wis.), George Washington-Jefferson National Forest (Va.), Kootenai National Forest (Mont.), Mississippi’s National Forests (Miss.), Plumas National Forest (Calif.), Tongass National Forest (Alaska), and Umpqua National Forest (Ore.) Special mention went to the Allegheny National Forest (Pa.), the Medford Bureau of Land Management District (Ore.) and Sequoia National Forest (Calif.).

The Allegheny National Forest was cited largely due to the overwhelming amount of oil and gas drilling - the Allegheny has more oil and gas wells than all the other national forests combined. The report also draws attention to the 8,600-acre East Side Timber Sale, stating, "A federal judge's recent reversal of an earlier decision on the East Side sale promises to return the ANF to its status as the country's most endangered national forest." The Allegheny was cited as America’s Most Endangered National Forest in 2001.

"Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms provides the American public with a detailed and scientific account of the current ecological state of the National Forest system," said Jake Kreilick, Project Coordinator of NFPA. "By citing direct evidence of environmental damage in 10 particularly endangered forests, it paints a grim picture of the Bush Administration's mismanagement of our precious public lands."

The report lists specific actions taken by the Bush Administration to achieve its pro-logging agenda, namely:

- limiting the public’s right to participate in decisions affecting their public lands;

- using stealthy administrative rule changes to undermine fundamental environmental laws (e.g. the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act);

- using the threat of wildfires to give timbers companies access to remote intact forests for logging;

- dismantling rules that protect forests from roadbuilding and commercial development; and

- turning over large tracts of National Forest land to logging companies under the guise of "Stewardship Contracting."

"This fight is not just about saving trees," said John Passacantando, Director of Greenpeace. "We are fighting for the principle that some places in this country are so special that they belong to all Americans. And we are fighting for the right of the people to have a say in the future of those places." Nine forests were listed as "threatened:" Cherokee National Forest (Tenn.), Clearwater National Forest (Idaho), Idaho Panhandle National Forest (Idaho), Kaibab National Forest (Ariz.), Mount Hood National Forest (Ore.), Monongahela National Forest (W.Va), Ottawa National Forest (Mich.), Ouachita National Forest (Ark./Okla.) and Sumter National Forest (S.C.).


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