4.  Logging is typically messy, wasteful, and damaging to the land.
Forest owners feel they totally lose control of their land when a logger moves the equipment in for a harvest.  Logging equipment is getting larger and more expensive here in the U.S.  Heavy harvests are needed to make a profit for the logger and the machines often must be operated even in bad weather to make the payments.  The timber industry accepts damage on private land as normal and necessary to feed the mills with a steady supply of wood.  Good forestry is only possible with good loggers, but the current trend in the industry (low log prices and high volume requirements) holds a logger hostage to a bad system.  This situation is getting worse today from the forest owner's point of view.

5.  Timber is not valued by our legal system

Theft and Fraud is common and usually ignored or covered up.  Forest owners often say, "Why bother growing big trees if someone is just going to steal them?"  Loggers often say, "If you are going to arrest me, you'll have to arrest us all."

6.  Foresters Discourage Forestry

Most forest owners in this region do not respect or deal with foresters.  The profession has failed to bring about significant sound forest management in the U.S.  The average forest owner ignores their timber, then deals direct with a timber buyer when enough mature trees are present for a harvest. 

Professional foresters tell forest owners that will listen that they are not qualified to manage timber.  The message comes in many ways, "Only a professional can write a management plan or mark timber."  Technical language and industrial practices overwhelm an individual landowner.

Here in Wisconsin, land values and property taxes are rising very quickly.  Since the forest owners aren't making money managing timber, there is a huge pressure to harvest any trees that are merchantable for quick cash.  Our state offers a property tax break to forest owners, but there is usually an immediate harvest of mature timber.  Forest owners are now required to use professional forestry assistance to participate.  The net effect of these factors is pressure on woodlot owners to do heavy harvesting of mature trees with little thought of future-oriented forest management.

Free services and monetary incentives from government programs keep a few percent of forest owners captive.  This "Welfare Forestry" is insignificant in the big picture, yet actually discourages sound management by offering a safe and tempting compromise.

Foresters acting as brokers for landowners and "procurement foresters" for a big mill both present huge ethical problems that forest owners see.  Feeding the big mill with cheap timber is their obvious goal.  Consulting foresters who work for landowners are usually more loyal to the big mill, not the forest owner - as the forester's success is tied to future sales to the mill and one forest owner is expendable.

I believe that the U.S. forestry profession needs a major housecleaning, then an overhaul to get back to the ethics we learned in school.  Foresters have compromised due to the steady pressure from the big mills to work in ways that are practical for industry to make money.                                                    Next