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An email:

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind about that logging article:

1) the author assumes that the Bush administration is logging for purely
profit-making motives without providing any evidence that this is the case;

2) the author lives in Massachusetts, which has no national forests;

3) More than 80% of the land in Idaho and Nevada is owned by the feds. The
author concludes that “America’s national forests are the common property of
its citizens. They are a public trust of incalculable value. They should be
freed from commercial logging altogether…” No doubt he would feel the
same way about resort constructrion, mineral removal, gas exploration, etc.
The author doesn’t demonstrate how exactly the citizens of rural America are
going to make a living when all their assets are declared a “common property
of its citizens.” The job losses if his proposals were followed-through
would be regionalized but enormous in those regions and quite calculable;

4) The national forest system was not acquired to simply wall off over a
third of the United States from development. Rather the opposite was true.
The “public trust of incalculable value” was created specifically to create
jobs and economic growth. If we would like to revise that philosophy, it
would only be fair to revise the amount of land the government oversees in
the United States;

5) the author uses “wilderness areas” in a very ambigious manner. There are
millions of acres of designated wilderness in the national forest system
where no roads are allowed to be built. I believe the author is using
“wilderness areas” to incorporate ANY area in the national forests that does
not currently have roads, but can’t be certain;

6) the author talks about revenues yielded in 1999 without doing any
profitabilty analysis, then blithely talks about long-term profits that
“accrue indirectly from natural habitats.” There are public goods which he
might be referring to but aren’t “profits;” there is also optionality in
terms of leaving land open for future optimimum-use decisions which include
logging, mining, etc– removing those options would reduce optionality and
hence profitability. Allegheny Energy is a pioneer in calculating
optionality value on open land and has had some succesful deals recently in
West Virginia with local environmental groups. They’d be good to contact
for additional information on this subject;

7) Much of the author’s language is vague, unclear, or very generalized. It
sounds good, but wallpaper looks good– doesn’t necessarily have any value.


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