Management of Old-growth Forests in the Pacific Northwest
When westward expansion brought settlers to the Northwest in the 1800s, they discovered that coniferous trees “forty feet in circumference [that] shot two-hundred feet straight up” flourished in the forests of the Pacific coast (Ervin 55). These early pioneers found the opportunity for economic growth in logging these vast forests of towering trees unlike any they had seen before. Today, the timber industry still remains the backbone of economic support for Washington, Oregon, and northwestern California, but an inevitable conflict has arisen between humans and our environment. A struggle over the control of the use of the old-growth forests threatens the balance of the ecosystem and the stability of the economy in the Pacific Northwest.
Each year, 55,000 acres of Northwest forest land succumb to chainsaws to feed the ever-increasing foreign and domestic demands for lumber (Time 21). To profitably satisfy these demands, old-growth trees, those of two hundred years or more, are sought by Northwest logging companies. At this rate, environmentalists believe the unique ecosystem created by old-growth forests is in danger of being destroyed. To protect the old-growth forests and the plants and animals found there, a reduction must be made in the amount of old-growth trees logged each year. Yet reducing the amount of logging in the Pacific Northwest decreases the current number of jobs involved in harvesting the forests and the revenue received by both the companies and the government for their processed logs. To fully understand the current conflict over the old-growth forests, we must look at what each side stands to lose and then suggest a possible balanced sol...
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...reach an agreement before it is too late. At our current rate of logging, the old-growth forest, its ecosystem, and its loggers will disappear in less than 15 years (Watkins 12).
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