In California today, clearcutting is the timber industries preferred method of logging, replacing a more public friendly and certainly more forest friendly method known as selective logging. With proper selective logging, forests, along with the waters and wildlife are sustained by harvesting some trees while leaving healthy ones in the stand.

The clear-cut devastation begins by cutting down and hauling away all the trees. The clearings swelter in the hot sun, killing off much of the minute forest fauna that wasn't trampled in the initial leveling by heavy machinery. Next the stumps are burned along with whatever remaining vegetation and debris that can be bulldozed into piles. Herbicides are then applied to prevent plants from returning. Now the barren soil is replanted, usually with one or two species of fast growing and genetically selected pine seedlings. What once was a diversified forest ecosystem is now a mono-crop plantation of same age trees destined to be clearcut again in the future. Over the next couple of decades the plantations will be treated regularly with herbicides.

Clearcutting has increased by a devastating 2500% since 1992. Ironically that year public pressure brought about the halting of clearcutting on national forest lands only to send the timber industry through a loophole into their own privately owned lands. As you will see later in this presentation, the timber industry and the federal government have side-stepped public opinion in a policy known as “replacement volume timber sales”.

Timber industry officials insist that clear-cutting makes healthier, more productive forests. Their view of productivity is in the face of wildlife census, habitat diversity studies and water shed quality assessments of regions already plundered by this practice. Proponents of clearcutting, including governors and state legislators of both major political parties have seen forestry as part of agriculture. On the other hand, the average citizen does not view her or his public trust with such short term eyes.

How is it that a policy that is overwhelmingly disliked by the public is allowed to continue? Is it possible that there was a time in our country's history that clearcutting was palatable by the majority? At this point we may never know the answer to that question. One thing is for certain, our legislators believed then and now that clearcutting is acceptable, even necessary. Since today's logging companies use science as the basis for clearcutting, it must be that our legislators accept that science as fact. This raises more disturbing questions as to why our legislators are ignoring more abundant and global scientific data that clearly shows that clearcutting is poor forest management and is endangering our children's future.