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Clearcut Forest Screened from the Road


Photo: George Steinmetz

George Steinmetz is one of my favorite new finds on the Net. He specializes in taking aerial photographs while piloting a motorized paraglider.

Check out the photograph above, of a clear-cut forest in the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. If you were driving, you'd probably not notice the clearing at all! And that, my friend, is the pictorial definition of a façade.

Link - Thanks Lee!


It might actually have a practical purpose as a windbreak. In the winter or bad weather it would keep strong cross-winds, snowdrifts, debris, etc. from endangering traffic.
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That is depressing. However, I wonder if they don't cut the trees down because they are right on a major road and dont want to risk a tree falling onto the street blocking it or bashing a passing car.

Those other smaller roads don't seem to be protected.
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I'm out on the Olympic Peninsula (where this was taken) 6-8 times a year, so let me clear up a few of the questions in the comments:

I've seen plenty of CC's right up against the road to convince me that this isn't about wind screens or anything like that. Moreover, in the areas where logging is being done, snow drifts aren't an issue.

In terms of being afraid of downing a tree across a "major road," there aren't really any major roads out there that see a car more than once every 5 minutes. Second, loggers are exceptionally good at making trees fall the direction they want. As for the smaller roads, those look like logging roads to me.

The answer to this one is either it's pure PR (which is possible considering the companies that are doing most of the logging out there: Weyerhauser and Green Crow, the former of which practically invented greenwashing), or the simple fact that the state or county owns the right of way immediately adjacent to the road. So much of the peninsula is clearcut at this point that seeing one more wouldn't really shock anyone.
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Actually, you can totally notice these when you drive through, because they only leave a few trees' worth of depth. I've been told that the logging companies have to leave a certain percentage of trees per acre, and so they leave these horrible "fringes" to comply. Don't know if that's true or not. And yes, the smaller road is a logging road, where they access and haul out.
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Here is a link to another travesty.
http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=42.083318,-122.166939&spn=0.046884,0.160675&t=h&z=13

This shows some clearcuts in southern Oregon where the timber industry left little skinny green strips between large clearcuts, presumably in order to get around the legal limit on the size of clearcuts. This kind of liquidation probably took place before the absentee landowner sold out and left town. "Cut and run" is what they call it.
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Is this Georgia Pacific private property? If so, it's PR, but not horrible. They will replant and they have techniques to get these trees to grow fast.
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yeah, it doesn't looks liked it'd fool anyhow. How can you not see past the 1 line of trees to the emptiness beyond?

Oh, and did you guys know that we (America) plant trees specifically for lumber and paper purposes, and due to these efforts, we grow way more trees than we use up?

So, there's really not a good reason to be made 'sad' or 'sick' by this.

Now, our pollutants killing off the oxygen-producting algae (phytoplankton)? THATs something to worry about. It produces way more O then trees.
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Thanks, just a guy. Sometimes people see a tree being cut down and they think "Oh, noes! We can't cut down trees!" But if they are replanted and managed, it's not that big of a deal.

Looking at the picture, I would say that those trees are no more than 15 years old. When they are completely harvested, Georgia Pacific will go to Georgia and harvest the trees there and let these grow. Modern forestry! It's a wonderful thing.

If these were old growth forests, that would be a different story.
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Those are what are fondly known in the Pacific Northwest as 'pecker poles'. That is to say, they are very small second or 3rd-growth (or even 4th) trees and are obviously in stands managed for timber production.

Since it is not meant to hide anything (anyone driving any of these roads sees through to the clearcut) don't ascribe some evil intent to decive on the part of timber companies. Probably (as someone pointed out) it is simply the county right-of-way that didn't get logged.

Yes, the Olympic Peninsula dn many areas of the PNW have been logged like crazy. No, I don't like that old growth still gets logged. But do I get all worked up about a plot of land that is currently a tree farm, and gets logged? No, why should I?

When you eat an ear of corn, do you get all upset that some region of Iowa that used to sprout native prairie grasses now grows your corn instead? Probably not.
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I live in Oregon. Here, as in Washington state, there are laws that prevent clear-cutting within 100ft of a public road. The intent of the law was for asthetics from the driver's point of view -- nothing more.

I believe the law only applies to public land that is harvested under permit and fee. Privately owned land may not be subject to this law.

There's nothing wrong with clear-cutting a forest. Think of it like picking broccoli - only bigger, and you have to wait a lot longer for the crop. It's a truly renewable, sustainable resource.
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They're called "Beauty Strips" and they are all too common. Look through the trees as you drive along and, lo and behold, there is often sky where it should be green.
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I agree, this is nothing to be worried or sick about. Seems to me similar to cutting your grass or harvesting crop. It is a resource that is needed and one that is very easily reproduced. If they were just leaving those patched bare, then there'd be a problem.

I've been watching the History Channel's "Ax Men" which follows a handful of logging companies up in WA. When they get a job, it is a specific, and relatively small, patch of land/mountain. They don't just cut randomly and then leave. Whether it be from a tree farm, which is what they cut from the most, or patches of "other" land, they are restricted by the area given. Once they're done, they replant, wait many years, decades even, then come back, etc.

I think it may be hard to see it as the same thing as a corn crop because of the slow regrowth rate, but it is no different. I live in Indiana, and no one sheds tears over cut wheat, soy, or corn.
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I was always under the impression that the trees were kept along the roadside to keep the roads from washing out and to prevent mudslides.
In British Columbia this is a very common site too.
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They do this in Australia too. It gives the tourists an ideal image of nature. It's only once you stop the car, and get out to go for a walk in the bush, that you realize it's just a narrow strip along the roadside, and the rest has been logged.
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You see this sort of thing all over Oregon. Occasionally they mess up and suddenly you see miles of clear cuts, but mostly they maintain the facade.

What is really sad is that many of these "harvests" are done at a financial loss to the Forest Service after they have built the roads and such to them... so called "deficit logging".

Even worse than that, a lot of the trees end up in foreign mills- sold at a loss to US Taxpayers. Doncha just love the best government money can buy?
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Not sad so much as a way of life. BTW thanks for the link to the photographers site. I'm a sucker for new sites with gorgeous photography. Thanks.
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While I'll have to concede to the modern necessity for tree-farming, it's apparent the logging companies are making a business decision in not harvesting all of their crop. For them, the PR in hiding their destruction is less costly than their lost revenues. Leaving the trees for the logging industry is synonomous with the beef industry not allowing anyone to view the slaughter of cattle.

If anyone thinks they are doing this for some more benevolent reason, they are only kidding themselves.

However, whats almost as sad as the clear cutting are the ignorant remarks concerning it.
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Ok, I live in Georgia. What does Georgia have more of than Peaches, Apples, and Pecans? PINE TREES!

The pine tree makes great pulp for paper. Trees are harvested like wheat and replanted. This renewing resource keeps the paper companies going filling our paper needs without stripping the planet of anything. If anything, through their research, trees are more insect resistant and are stronger and straighter.

For the record, at least here, trees along the road can't be harvested because of the Right Of Way. Those trees belong to the DOT (state or county). They can only be harvested with permit.

Some places can't be harvested due to the ground being unstable. Sinking tree harvesting equipment in the mud is very expensive to remove.

Just 2 cents! :)
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we don't say how horrible the corn farmer or hay farmer or soy bean farmer is. this isn't destruction of old forest, this is farming on a mass scale, with crops that take several years to mature, but crops nonetheless.

i agree, it doesn't look beautiful, but they own this land, and if they want to grow and harvest trees on it, i say its better than putting up a polluting factory or building a bunch of low grade housing on it.
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I still think they shouldn't clear cut, but should instead be more selective. However, this costs them a lot more money and time, so I can see why they do it if it's allowed.
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"The Lorax would be soo pissed off"

i have my avatar in the woodworking forums as the lorax. i hope that it reminds people (including myself) to be less wasteful...and to think of the trees.
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To all of you who are bothered by cutting down forests, spend more energy on countries other than the U.S. The number of trees here is actually growing, unlike most other countries.

Unless you are willing to not buy anything made from trees, you are being hypocritical. Using nature to make our lives better is not a bad thing, especially when it is managed well.

Sure it isn't pretty to look at, but neither is the aftermath of forest fires, which often occur with no human intervention.
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I see this all the time. There is a beautiful mountain where I live - in fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs right across the top of this mountain. I drove toward the mountain a few days ago and noticed that a GIANT patch on the side has been completely clear cut and the dirt is exposed. It looks as if the mountain is bleeding. Tears sprung to my eyes when I saw it!
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I say, build more roads to save the trees! :p

Managing forests is one of the good ecological way to use renewable building material/energy. This picture is just part of a cycle.
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I worked in forestry for years, and it is indeed a renewable resource. I am surprised that a few comments were correct in identifying the strips as DOT land, thereby only harvestable by permit. This surprise stems from the astounding amount of ignorance about forests and the way that they work and are managed on the environmentalists side of the argument. In college, I did quite a bit of research on the subject as I care deeply about my homestate Oregon forests. In the course of writing numerous reports on environmentalist concerns on the west coast, I found that the VAST majority of environmentalist claims were based on either manufactured propaganda or outright lies. Most environmentalist groups are vindictive organizations that survive on stirring up outrage that will translate into massive charitable and governmental contributions to their own pockets. Many of them are the worst kind of uneducated hypocrites, and their efforts do more to actually harm manageable forest land than to conserve it.
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While I'll agree that modern logging could be a whole lot worse, I don't see clearcutting in a similar light to a farmer harvesting crops. The terrain depicted in the picture (and I would imagine that a lot of the terrain in regions where logging is a popular industry) is much hillier than your average farm in Iowa. What are the consequences related to soil erosion? I imagine they are much higher than corn or soybean farming in the midwest.
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Trees are a renewable resource. That means they grow back. Clear cutting is also beneficial to the environment, because if you don’t clear cut or log then the forests will die of bugs and diseases. Then all you have is one giant fire hazard because nature has its own way of getting ride of things, and in the process of burning down the dead it will also probably burn down houses, maybe even towns. Wouldn’t want that would you. Also, trees have a huge effect on the economy and bring in a large amount of money and create a lot of everyday products. Also, slash(limbs and things that don’t go to the mill usually left to burn) is being used to create electricity. Timber burns cleaner and safer than gases and coal, and once again its renewable. So before you bash on logging, do some research.
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