Sunday, June 3, 2012

VOTE NO - Grim Package of Companion Bills


There is virtually no public demand for a grim package of companion bills—commercial logging of our state forests (S1085), the Poaching-Baiting Bill (S1848), and the Prescriptive Burn Bill (S368), currently promoted in the Legislature. The Kill-Cut-Burn legislation is the product of national timber, gun, and game commercial associations under Teaming with Wildlife. (See below).

Logging by FSC-certified forest company in Sweden.
Photo: Olli Manninen/Protect the Forest 2009.
S1085: will permit commercial logging of our state forests, primarily for hunted species and timber. As noted by the 40 scientists who signed a letter against the original version of the legislation, logging will “grow the deer herd even more.” [1]

The scientists also stated there was no need to turn mature forests into early successional landscapes, which are already “plentiful.” Contiguous forests, which do not support large numbers of deer, are not plentiful. The scientists also pointed out that the claim that a “healthy forest” must be logged and managed “is based simply on outdated, unscientific folklore.” The late addition of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards to placate opponents changes none of the above, key objections.

The rub: the self-appointed Teaming with Wildlife (TWW) “stakeholders” relentlessly pursue deer killing programs they claim protect “forest systems.” Now, they are lobbying for commercial legislation that “grows the herd.” And more killing of the resultant deer.

Logging reduces forest canopy cover, causing more sunlight to reach the forest floor, which results in rapid growth of flammable brush and creates hotter, drier conditions.

Among rationales offered to justify commercial logging is fire prevention. Earth Island Institute’s John Muir Project reviewed Forest Service abuses of the National Fire Plan (NFP). The portion of all new National Fire Plan-funded commercial logging projects in the Sierra National forests within 200 feet of homes? None. What portion of all new NFP-funded commercial logging projects on Sierra Nevada national forests focus on the removal of flammable undergrowth? None. What portion of all funds proposed for new NFP projects on Sierra Nevada national forests are being used for commercial logging projects? Answer: 97%.[2]

The newly added FSC standards are not a panacea. The prestigious Swedish Society for Nature Conservation left FSC in 2010, stating that “FSC-certified companies violate Swedish forestry law and the FSC standard. Numerous forests with great importance for nature conservation are being logged at an alarming rate, even by companies certified by Forest Stewardship Council… We refuse further greenwashing under the FSC logotype.”[3]

S1848 Poaching and Baiting. S1848 will extend poaching practices long deemed unethical, unsporting and unsafe, on forest stewardship lands. That S1085 will create more deer is indisputable fact. That is why Senator Smith has reintroduced last session’s distasteful S2649, which permits killing animals directly over bait, jacklighting, or stunning deer with strong lights, and shooting from vehicles.

Baiting: By large majorities, public disapproves of killing animals “over bait,” a poaching practice by the Division of Fish and Wildlife for deer since the late 1990s, and, ironically, supported by those who decry deer damage to forests. Baiting changes tree species composition and holds back forest regeneration, as it concentrates deer, who continue to feed on natural browse in the area. In eastern deciduous forests, ground nesting birds were less abundant in baiting areas. Baiting concentrates coyotes, raccoons, and opossums near ground nesting birds. Baiting increases car accidents and the spread of wildlife diseases.

Fires top out trees at the (“controlled burn”) blaze near Reynolds
Ranch, Colorado.  March 26, 2012.  AP Photo, Denver Post.
S368 “Prescribed Burning”. Authorities report that burning, a longstanding game management practice and the present rage, releases particulates and pollution that can affect humans with respiratory problems.[4]

“Controlled” fire can and does get out of control. In March 2012, the 3,000-acre wildfire in Colorado resulted in 900 homes evacuated, and one fatality. The fire was caused by a “prescribed burn” the week before that “sprang back to life on a windy day.”[5] At a public meeting, a New Jersey Audubon staffer made the starkly absurd point that if the 3,000-acre fire, caused by a prescribed burn and responsible for the evacuation of 900 homes and a fatality, hadn’t been prescribed burned in the past, the (prescribed burn) fire would “have been worse.”

Teeming with Gun Manufacturers
The TWW national steering committee is teeming with firearms manufacturers, including ATK Ammunition Systems, Remington Arms, Inc., SigArms Corporation, the Archery Trade Association, state game agencies, hunting groups, the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy. The latter was the subject of a Washington Post series on its corporate associations. For the full list of participants, please see Teaming with Wildlife National Steering Committee

TWW refers to firearms trade associations as “nature related businesses.” The co-leader of the New Jersey TWW Coalition, which includes timber interests, is New Jersey Audubon.

In 1931, zoologist William Temple Hornaday, who saved the American buffalo and fur seals from certain extinction, identified the National Association of Audubon Societies, gun manufacturers, and government wildlife regulators as the “Combine” or “Interlocking Directorate” that “savagely” blocked efforts to set bag limits for decimated migratory birds.

The author of a recent book on conservation “hellcat” Rosalie Edge described Edge’s battle against Audubon and “professional conservationists corrupted by trophy hunters,” timber, ranching, developers, manufacturers and government regulators. The Combine decided which lands and animals would be protected or increased based on their own “personal interests and profit motives.” Déjà vu, all over again. With TWW, the Combine is back, controlling wild land, wildlife policy, and public funding nationwide through State Wildlife Action Plans. In fact, the Combine never left.

Susan Russell
Wildlife Policy Specialist
Animal Protection League of New Jersey
League of Humane Voters of New Jersey
[1] “40 New Jersey Biologists, Ecologists, and Forest Scientists OPPOSED to S1085 ‘Forest Harvest
[2] Chad Hansen, “Getting Burning by Logging: Forest Service Abuse of the National Fire Plan in the Sierra Nevada,” John Muir Project, Earth Island Institute. Undated. 5-7. (accessed 1 June 2012).
[3] FSC-Watch, “Swedish Society for the Conservation of Nature Resigns from FSC Sweden,” 22 June 2010. (Accessed 1 June 2012).
[4] “Simulation of Air Quality Impacts from Prescribed Fires on an Urban Area,” Environmental Science and Technology, American Chemical Society, 2008.  Accessed 1 June 2012).
[5] Associated Press / March 27, 2012. Colorado wildfire: 900 homes evacuated, and one fatality. (Accessed 1 June 2012).

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