The Minnesota Daily -
Legislation necessary to save the white pine
If you already spent 98 percent of all the cash you
had, and weren't sure you could get any more money in the foreseeable
future, wouldn't you be extremely careful with the last 2 percent of your
financial resources? The state Legislature is facing a similar situation
this week. Minnesota has logged 98 percent of its white pines, and now the
state Senate will debate the fate of the remaining 2 percent.
Ecologist and former Forest Service employee Lynn
Rogers and others support a bill called the Restore the White Pine Act,
which would require the Department of Natural Resources to place a
priority on planting, protecting and studying white pines. A controversial
part of the bill places a moratorium on cutting the pines on state-owned
land for 22 months while reforestation methods are studied.
Unfortunately, the debate has not always been civil.
Sources say that Rogers notified the Washington office of the Forest
Service about an article he wrote on the white pine issue. Within weeks
the Forest Service allegedly confiscated his data, locked him out of his
office and tried for more than a year to fire him on a wide array of
charges. After Rogers proved some of the allegations false and others
ridiculous, the charges were dropped, his retirement benefits were
restored and the Forest Service apparently paid him not to sue.
When reached for comment, Rogers said part of the
settlement requires that he not talk to the media about his former
employer. It's impossible, however, to stop him from talking about white
pines. "(Humans) have changed the forest and made it harder for white
pines to regenerate," Rogers said. "We've always harvested (white pines)
with a frontier spirit; now it's time to change to sustainable yield."
Dennis Ingvaldson of the Department of Natural
Resources said he agrees with all of the provisions of the White Pine Act
except for the logging moratorium. He said reduced numbers of forest fires
complicate the conditions conducive to new white pine growth. "There needs
to be a seedbed for the trees; of course the logging bares the mineral
soil and provides a place for the seeds to grow," he said. Ingvaldson said
the decision-making power to cut the trees is left to four-member Forest
Service teams, and he said logging decisions should be made through a
planning process and not legislated.
The Restore the White Pine Act has already passed
through two state House committees and faces an 11th-hour Senate hurdle
this week. We support the act as a way to halt irresponsible logging
practices in Minnesota.
The argument that pines should be cut down to create
seedbeds is lame at best. Controlled burning or the use of a skidder -- a
heavy vehicle designed to remove forest underbrush -- could create the
proper conditions for new growth. The state Senate should pass the Restore
the White Pine Act with the moratorium fully intact.