Where is the forest-restoration economy?

By Paul Larmer
High Country News
October 30, 2017
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The budget-starved Forest Service gives jobs to the lowest bidder instead of local communities. In the early 1990s, as overcutting and the endangered northern spotted owl put the kibosh on the West’s timber bonanza, forest managers began to dream of a more modest woods-based economy. Though jobs cutting old growth-trees and replanting clear-cuts were vanishing, perhaps workers could restore forests that had grown dense and flammable due to fire suppression, bugs and drought. A vibrant forest-restoration economy, based on thinning and controlled burning, could spring up around public lands, providing good blue-collar jobs and fiber for mills that would otherwise close. Unfortunately, that vision has never been fully realized.

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