Monday, September 19

Rhymes With "Rich"

Last Friday (don't imagine he didn't learn anything about the timing of announcements in his previous job) Governor Mitch "You're No Napoleon. For One Thing, He Was 5'6" Daniels revealed his plan to fell up to five times as many trees as previous in the state's public forests.

Let's jump right to what the Indianapolis Star thought were the 19th and 20th most important paragraphs in the story. I'm doing this only because I suspect you may be ahead of me:
The timber industry was a supporter of Daniels' 2004 campaign. In the December 2004 issue of Hard News, a publication of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen's Association, the group's lobbyist, Ray Moistner, penned a celebratory column about the GOP's statewide election victory.

"We have before us an opportunity to move forward, and make hay while the sun shines," Moistner wrote in the newsletter, which is available on the association's Web site ( ). "I think it's safe to say the elections were very good for IHLA."

Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful the Star got around to mentioning it at all. But first we had to wade through Daniels' cover story and the support of a rather curious ally.

Daniels--who travelled to Morgan-Monroe State forest for his photo op--insists that logging is not the real purpose here. Nope, Mitch is interested in making our forests "more robust". I suppose we might find it in our hearts to understand why Mitch might confuse "robustness" with "shorter", but that doesn't mean we've got to accept the explanation.

Mitch's trusty sidekick in auctioning off handing over our state resources, Kyle J. Hupfer, the commissioner of the state DNR, (who, unlike Mike Brown, actually was a mergers and acquistions lawyer before being handed the reins of a public trust) said the effort was based upon sound science. When a Republican uses the phrase "sound science" you know you're about to take it in the shorts. But the surprise guest at Mitch's little picnic was Dan Shaver, a project director for the Indiana chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which either owes somebody big time or has enough cash flow it doesn't have to worry about dropping the mask from time to time. Shaver said that clearing older groves of trees prevents the spread of harmful insects like gypsy moths, and also curtails broader epidemic tree diseases such as looper, which in recent years has afflicted more than 100,000 acres of Southern Indiana forest.

Well, maybe that's the "sound science" they're talking about, but prior to the Daniels administration sound science involved testing and eradication programs, not bringing in bulldozers.

And before you write a check to the Nature Conservancy to help make public lands private, give this some consideration. We have a minor gypsy moth problem in Indiana; nothing like Michigan's. Here's a map:

There's not a whole lot of state forest land in that corner. In fact the worst infestation reported so far has been at Parkland Hospital in Fort Wayne, which is not a notable destination for Indiana's nature lovers, unless they happen to be nearby and have appendicitis.

Loopers, though, have been defoliating oaks in eight Southern Indiana counties, just as they did in 1978-1981. Using that as a guide, 2005 was the highpoint of the infestation, which will now collapse for another twenty five years. Or for good, if Mitch's boys get to remove all the oaks in the meantime. In the name of sound science, naturally.

Mind you, our state forests are set aside for multiple use. Nobody's saying that timbering hasn't traditionally been a part of that. But most of Indiana's commercial hardwood industry utilizes trees from private lands, and there's no particular reason other than greed to increase the harvest. But, golly, with Republicans in charge that seems to be reason enough.


Anonymous said...

the nakedness of their greed would be pathetic if it wasn't so disgusting.

and we opposed communism for THIS?

someone ot, but chuck leavell, keyboard player for the rolling stones' touring band, owns a pine tree farm, more or less, in his native georgia. i saw it on cbs sunday morning one sunday morning.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that whole "State forests are for everybody, even us logging companies!" thing was a pile of bullshit. The difference between logging and mining and other uses of the forests is that when the hikers and the campers and the Christmas-tree cutters and the mushroom-collectors and the bikers go home, there's still a forest left for other people to use tomorrow. Even the hunters leave the actual forest standing.
It's particularly ugly out here, where we build them roads, subsidize their operations, watch our endangered salmon die in streams now fully exposed to the sun, then let them pay practically nothing to clearcut what amounts to old growth forest to replant with monoculture Douglas Fir.

You have no idea how much the stupidity of this pisses me off.
One of our big timber companies has its headquarters located in a nice wooded area, and has over planted the entire building to give it that nice green look. With ivy, and invasive species here that kills trees by girdling. Once it's established in a forest, the forest is cut down in the name of windfall laws, based on the theory that the trees are basically a loss for the forest anyway.
The idiocy here ought to be apparent to anyone who gardens or composts.

And yeah, greed seems to be plenty of reason to stripmine the planet for an extra couple thousand bucks in profit--and if it's not profitable enough, they can always get subsidies to make it *more* profitable, regardless of the long term effects.

It's not just republicans, though. It's the actual legal view that a corporation exists only to make money for its stockholders, and that it is *unethical* for one to leave a single tree standing if by cutting it down they can make an extra buck.
Short-term feasts, and the long-term waiter seems to be staggering this way with the bill, finally.

Unfortunately, those who screwed things up to make the money will be able to use that money to insulate themselves from the effects of their own actions, at least for a while.
The rest of us will be long dead by the time there's any call for schadenfreude.