Jim Furnish, a former top U.S. Forest Service official, has a strong message for his former bosses – stop the ecologically-damaging and money-losing practice of old-growth logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and do it now.
In an editorial published in the Juneau Empire this week, Furnish laid out a compelling case for why Forest Service officials should “make a clean break” with Tongass old-growth logging and do this “as quickly as possible.”
Furnish supervised Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest during the spotted owl crisis of the 1990s. He decided to stop clear-cutting of Siuslaw old-growth timber and instead shift the focus to second-growth harvest. That decision essentially ended environmental lawsuits or appeals to stop logging and the Siuslaw has been producing a reliable, sustainable timber harvest of 40 million board feet annually ever since.
The same thing should happen on the Tongass, he argues. Among other things, Furnish cites a recent study using the Forest Service’s own data that concludes that a full transition from old-growth to second-growth logging can happen on the Tongass immediately. He’s right.