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Speed up process of salvage logging

 September 3, 2005 Herald and News

Time is the enemy of timber salvaged from wildfires, and that makes it the ally of those who oppose logging. Timber decays rapidly the first couple of years after a fire. By the third year, it isn't worth much.

That's why protracted battles over timber salvage from forest fires on public lands play to the interest of people who are against logging. If the delay is long enough, the issue's settled because the timber isn't worth enough to bring out of the woods.

That usually means lost jobs, lost opportunities and, perhaps, even some upward pressure on building costs because of the loss of lumber.

Because of the need for speed, it's important that processes be in place that allow salvage logging to move ahead quickly, even in old-growth areas, though not without a scientific basis.

Too often, legal actions filed against salvage logging, such as in the case of the 2002 Biscuit fire, seemed aimed more at delay than finality.

There has to be a way to decide how much it's reasonable to log burned-over areas without long delays, and that's something we think Oregonians support. Congress should, too.

A recent poll done for the Roseburg-headquartered "Communities for Healthy Forests" said that close to 75 percent of the respondents wanted dead trees removed and seedlings planted after wildfires.

Communities for Healthy Forests is a group that advocates faster efforts to reclaim burned-over land. The Associated Press reported that the poll was done by the independent Portland polling company of Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall of 607 registered voters.

Polls are always subject to interpretation, and we'll concede the organization that paid for this one has a point of view, but the conclusion strikes a chord of what we'd consider common sense.

Oregonians want responsible management of the state's resources and that includes making proper and speedy use of burned over timber.

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