Stung by the Sierra's Club's book, Clearcut, the timber industry has struck back with a glossy 28-page rebuttal. Closer Look: An On-the-Ground Investigation of the Sierra Club's Book, Clearcut, makes the case that clearcutting can improve forest health. The Sierra Club's 1993 book presented aerial photographs of nearly 100 denuded sites to represent the industry's devastating forestry practices (HCN, 4/4/94). In its response, the American Forest & Paper Association selected 10 sites to revisit, examining each from the ground and photographing details not captured in the Sierra Club's aerial photos. Association spokesperson Luke Popovich says the association initially revisited 30 sites - -and in not one of the 30 cases we investigated was poor (forestry) practice at fault' - but had only enough funding and time to thoroughly review 10 timber cuts. The real problem according to the timber association: Many areas were already devastated by wildfire or insect infestation and had to be salvaged to allow forests to regenerate. Examples shown of bad forestry practices, the association says, were 30 years old. Closer Look includes a seven-page essay by Thomas H. Bonnicksen, a professor of forest science at Texas A&M;, who explains the role of clearcuts in nature. Other than Bonnicksen, the timber association does not credit authors or photographers. Closer Look sells for $14.75, but has been sent to all members of Congress, and Popovich says he does not expect the group to recoup production costs. For more information or to purchase a copy, write to American Forest & Paper Association, Attn: Closer Look, 1111 19th St., N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20036.