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Forests need protecting from so-called experts

I often hear that we should leave the management of our public forests to the experts. But where the experts value timber production, I want natural habitat for birds, bats, salamanders and other critters.

When these experts talk of “forest health,” they mean maximizing timber output, whereas I think it should mean allowing natural processes such as windfalls to create openings for new forest growth.

Experts want miles of chunky gravel roads to enable timber trucks; I want footpaths that create a pleasant recreational outing. Experts tout fast-growing young trees as capturing carbon faster than old trees, but the carbon emissions resulting from timbering means it will be several decades before the carbon storage budget breaks even.

Experts see income for their agency from cutting down trees; I see soil loss from the forest and increased herbicide and sedimentation load to Lake Monroe (our source of drinking water).

Perhaps it requires a non-expert to point out these other important values, provided by an unmolested natural forest, and to suggest that nature should be the norm on our public lands, not the exception. It seems the so-called experts cannot see the forest ecosystem for the trees.

Tom Zeller