Forest management in 3-D

  Pepper Trail’s opinion column on salvage logging misses the mark, casting forest management in a one-dimensional, ecological way. Rather, forest management and salvage logging must be driven by sustainability.

We live in a three-dimensional world — ecological, social and economic. It’s not a matter of balancing these, for balance implies they are separate. They are inextricable and interdependent. In this sense, salvage logging has never been a purely ecological undertaking, nor purely economic, for that matter. And if one accounts for salvage via the maintained social fabric and improved habitat, air and water, the dollar loss that can show on paper is all of a sudden a tremendous gain!

Trail says that defining salvage in a holistic (read: ecological) way will save our relationship with the earth. We believe defining it, and adaptively managing forests in a sustainable way — the explicit recognition of not only the ecological, but the interdependent social and economic factors — will save our relationship with not only the earth, but our world and the people that are part of it. This is about the interconnectedness people have with healthy — sustainable — forests.

Bob Harrington, Montana state forester, and Gail Kimbell, regional forester, Northern Region, USFS Co-Leads, Western Forestry Leadership Coalition Denver, Colorado