Magazine article American Forests

Trees in Black & White

Magazine article American Forests

Trees in Black & White

Article excerpt

Simple truths are sometimes the hardest, and the

woods are suffering while we learn.

Most of us learn the world is not black and white before we're old enough to make decisions affected by that simple truth. Yet there's another simple truth a lot of us have missed: Forests aren't black and white either.

That point seems to be missing in much of the

debate over thinning to reduce the threat of wildfires. The only part of the story that is black and white is the aftermath. The fires sweeping the West this year are terrifying to watch, devastating to forests and rural communities alike. We all can agree on the need to avoid the kind of fire seasons becoming all too common.

What's not black and white are the emotions on either side of the issue. On one side are environmentalists, who fear any kind of cutting in the woods-regardless of how right-minded the reasoning is-will cut the good stuff, the big trees. The Forest Service and the timber companies say cutting is needed to get rid of underbrush that helps fuel these hot, slow-burning fires and to weed out the small trees.

There's a lot that's right-and wrong-with all that thinking. That's understandable, given the two sides' contentious history. But this is not a black and white story. Here at AMERIcAN FORESTS we hear ofand work with-many, many projects that showcase just how innovative the solutions can be when the efforts focus on solutions, not grandstanding. When competing interests sit down and genuinely try to find common ground, guess what? They often do.

And it's time to dispel the notion that smalldiameter wood can't hold its own in the commercial world. You need look no further than page 38 of this magazine for evidence of this untapped resource's potential. A start-up nonprofit in Arizona is using small-diameter wood to build traditional hogans for Navajos, an idea that has met with overwhelming demand. …

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