The poet Alexander Pope once famously said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Maine’s professional loggers can’t help thinking something similar each time they read opinion pieces in our state’s newspapers opposing the idea of timber harvesting in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

An editorial by this newspaper, published Sept. 19, “Our View: Leaked report feeds sense of uncertainty on Katahdin national monument,” is an example of flawed but deeply entrenched beliefs about logging that continue to frustrate hard-working loggers across Maine

Like so many articles and editorials before it, this piece plays on outdated fears about logging that cast it as the archenemy of the forests. This is an undeserved insult to modern Maine logging and the men and women who work in this industry that contributes almost $1 billion annually to the Maine economy and is arguably one of the most environmentally conscious, sustainable, and responsible legacy industries in America today.

The editorial asks the reader to imagine they are a tourist considering visiting the new monument, and then delivers this punch line, “And then you read that Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing to add “active timber management” to the list of allowable activities in your vacation destination. In other words, the forest you want to visit may or may not be standing when it’s time for your trip.”

This is ludicrous. Loggers do not stay in business by destroying forests, they stay in business by managing forests in such a way that they remain healthy and productive forever.

The truth is, active timber harvesting in the monument, and all federal forests, is essential to ensure forest health and it would be conducted just as loggers handle harvests for landowners across our state every day who want their woodlands managed for wildlife, recreation and aesthetics just as the National Park Service would.

Opponents of logging don’t like to acknowledge this fact, because it weakens arguments against timber harvesting. They also do not like to admit that the scenic forests in the Katahdin region, including much of the land in the monument itself, exist today precisely because they were managed as working forestland for generations.

The final flaw in the argument presented in the editorial is that landowners decide where and when to harvest, not loggers. In this case, the taxpayers of this country are the landowners and the Park Service is the people’s ombudsman. Do opponents of logging in the Katahdin national monument truly believe the Park Service would order a massive harvest that would result in the forest there to, “not be standing” at the end of the process?

It would be easy for Maine loggers to dismiss such arguments as willful lies by those who hate the idea of cutting any tree for any reason, but we believe the truth is far simpler — most people really don’t know the facts about modern logging, and the industry has evolved more quickly than public perception.

Sustainable logging today manages the health of a forest in the same way that a garden is weeded and tended. It controls pests, removes unhealthy trees, reduces risk of forest fires, promotes wildlife habitat and even improves recreational opportunities.

Loggers are not suggesting the monument be harvested with a disregard for scenic or recreational considerations, but that logging there be an example to all who visit of the kind of sustainable and vital timber management already practiced on millions of acres of working Maine forests.

Why can’t sustainable logging and traditional park uses cohabitate on conserved land? Why can’t the interests of all be upheld and elevated by Secretary Zinke’s recommendation rather than just those of a few, whereby the land that citizens of this country own together is protected and utilized for the benefit and best interests of all? In the end, isn’t this what early proponents of a national park service like John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt had in mind?

As we debate this issue and others like it, loggers ask only that those doing the debating learn the truth about modern logging. Talk to a professional logger, visit an active harvest. You may be surprised at what you see and hear.

Maine’s beautiful north woods exist today because of timber management. Through sustainable timber management, we can preserve the working forest for generations to come. If you love the forests in and around the Katahdin 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.


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