This photo from the Klamath National Forest courtesy of KS Wild. Trucks of logs are being sold for only a measly $2.50
Taxpayers lose nearly $2 billion a year to subsidize logging on public lands! Despite this loss, there are plans to increase logging by 40%. Congress sets timber targets for national forests and each forest is financially rewarded for reaching those targets. Thus, there is always an incentive for cutting down the big pumpkins a.k.a. the big old fire resistant carbon storing trees. The scary truth is that US Forest Service timber sale program is a net money loser yet timber companies profit, most often at a cost to the public, wildlife and water quality.
Frighteningly, timber sales on the Klamath and Mendocino National Forests offer thousands of log-truck loads of trees for $2.50 each or the amount of a good chocolate bar. While some districts are better than others, the agency often tries tricking the public by masquerading logging as fire risk reduction while sweetening the pot with mature and old-growth trees that have withstood decades, even centuries, of fire. To make deals even sweeter, road maintenance and slash (left over limbs and tree tops) disposal costs are dropped or offered at spine-chilling prices.
As the danger of the climate crisis and mass extinction loom, it is time to stop footing the bill for slicing and dicing what’s left of our national forests. Put the chainsaws away and start using scalpels. Congress can remedy this grave situation by using federal forest funds on ecological restoration decoupled from commercial logging and getting rid of timber targets all together. To truly serve the land and the people the Forest Service should focus on carbon storage, water quality and wildlife recovery. Our public lands provide priceless and supernatural life essential services.