As debate continues over the future of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the myth that active timber harvesting within its boundaries would be a bad thing is being repeated too often for professionals in the logging industry to ignore.
A recent report citing an unnamed source indicates Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendations on allowable uses in the monument may include “ allowing demonstrations of historic logging practices.”
An Aug. 29 BDN editorial about Secretary Zinke’s review of the monument contains the line, “Logging, of course, isn’t needed in the monument.” This akin to stating that a newspaper, of course, shouldn’t be printed on paper.
Logging is not only necessary for the monument, but is just what it requires to achieve long-term sustainability.
People with no firsthand knowledge or experience in forestry have a contrived belief that banning logging in a forest and leaving its future in the hands of Mother Nature will ensure it remains healthy and beautiful forever. But this just is not grounded in science.
The reality is that a forest that is not managed with responsible timber harvesting eventually becomes overgrown and ultimately succumbs to insects, disease and quite often fire. This is the natural life cycle of a forest, and it is a fact often ignored or misunderstood by those who argue against logging. Evidence of this is readily available from the national forests, parks and monuments where wildfires rage in the western United States annually.
Sustainable logging allows us to manage the health of a forest in the same way that a garden is weeded and tended. It allows us to control pests, remove unhealthy trees and promote wildlife habitat.
Loggers are not suggesting the monument be managed with a disregard for scenic or recreational considerations, but that logging there be an example to all who visit of the sustainable and vital timber management already practiced on millions of acres of working Maine forests by responsible loggers and landowners. Many times proponents have said this land must be protected because of its cultural and historical value. In the modern Maine history, logging has earned its right to be recognized equally among all the cultural and historical significance of this land base as it has been part of the region for the last 200 years.
The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine made these points to Secretary Zinke during his visit to Maine, and we were very encouraged by his receptiveness to active timber harvesting coexisting within and around the monument. Recent reports on Zinke’s recommendation to allow “demonstrations of historic logging practices” do not mention this.
While historic logging practices can, and should, be recognized in the monument, logging is not just history in Maine — it is a vital and important industry today. We felt this was a fact Zinke firmly grasped and embraced, as he did our concerns about access, safety, trucking and timber harvesting in and around the monument.
Many of you will read this on newsprint while drinking coffee from a paper cup, eating breakfast on a paper plate, using a paper napkin and sitting in a wooden chair at a wooden table in a wood-framed home. Consider for a moment how vital locally harvested wood is to our lives and economy, and how lucky we are to live in a state where the forest can be enjoyed and preserved for the future even as it provides the resources we need from it today.
We are hopeful that whatever Zinke’s recommendations may be, the Trump administration will act to ensure the interests of hardworking loggers and the families, businesses and communities that depend on them will be protected and not sacrificed needlessly based on misconceptions about what is best for preserving forests.
Maine’s beautiful North Woods exist today because of timber management. Through sustainable timber harvesting, we can preserve the working forest for generations to come. If you love the forests in and around Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and want to preserve them, a working forest is the right way to do so.
Dana Doran is executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.