We the People
I recently received the January-February issue of Audubon. Let's look at who creates the demand for forest products ["The Future of Our Forests"]. It's the people. Would the loggers, foresters, etc. harvest the forest and manufacture it into forest products if there was no one to buy it? Let's talk about certification and the new houses being constructed today. How many of these homeowners and builders tracked the certification of the wood they used to build their new homes? The uninformed public--along with the environmentalists--is the first to fuss at the timber industry, but also the first to fuss at their builder when those hardwood floors or birch cabinets or ash paneling are late. Who is placing the demand on the forest . . . [but] the people?
I was so very pleased to receive the January-February issue of Audubon and to see much of the magazine dedicated to educating readers about what they can do to advance sustainable timbering practices ["Good Wood"]. Recently, in the course of my mission to purchase an unfinished bookcase, I asked the proprietor of a local store where the wood for his products came from. He was unable to answer. In fact, he seemed disturbed that I would even care, since the bookcase was obviously of "good quality." Many people say that one purchase doesn't make a difference, but it does. Consumers must use their buying power to let companies know that we will spend our dollars on companies that use resources sustainably. Thanks for your help with my quest for a bookcase I can feel good about shelving my Audubon issues on.
The Buck Stops Here
While acknowledging concerns about clear-cutting, Audubon's article about the Mead Paper Company's operation in Escanaba, Michigan, turns a largely uncritical eye on most of the forest-management activities Mead does pursue ["The Paper Chase," January-February]. The practice of selection cutting of forests is characterized as "a low-impact forestry technique," [but it] is of increasing concern in Michigan and elsewhere because it degrades habitat for birds, other wildlife, and plants dependent on closed-canopy forests. Mead uses herbicides to establish its red pine plantations in many areas because the red pine can't outcompete other species. Converting natural forests to plantations--and the use of fast-growing nonnatives--is changing the forest ecosystems of our region. Lastly, the author ignores entirely that Audubon is printed on extremely high-quality, bright white paper. Not because that is all that is available, but because you have made a conscious choice to market your magazine in this way. If environmental organizations aren't prepared to alter their practices to protect the wildlife and wild places of the world, then who will?
Donovan Webster replies: While Mead's level of cutting may not be agreeable to all environmental organizations, they meet the legal standards. And as I point out in the story, I saw top-tier avian predators in the forests, which makes the case for the degradation of forests less weighty. As for herbicides, I investigated the issue with a respected biologist and learned that the types of herbicides used have no profound effect on local watercourses. If this is not the case, Ms. Woiwode can provide proof to me, and I will respond accordingly.
Audubon replies: We base decisions about what paper to use on a number of factors, of which environmental correctness is just one. We also have to consider the paper's price and availability, how well it accomplishes the magazine's goals, and how well it meets our printing needs. As for the "extremely high quality" of our paper, out of the five publication-printing paper grades (with grade 1 representing the best quality), ours is grade 4.
My compliments on the January-February issue of Audubon--it is well written and informative. However, I was somewhat dismayed to find nothing written addressing the problem of conservation of our natural resources. You credit efforts to stop the destruction of forests but [not] the problem of too many people. We need to be more restrictive on immigration and pose added taxes for children, rather than subsidizing children. Tough decisions, but needed to avoid our nation becoming overpopulated to the point of the total poisoning of our ecosystem.
Audubon replies: The National Audubon Society recently launched PLANet, a population and habitat campaign that addresses human population growth and reducing population pressures on the environment. To learn more, visit us on the web at www.audubonpopulation.org, or contact us at Population & Habitat Program, National Audubon Society, 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20006-3405; 202-861-2242; firstname.lastname@example.org.
I commend Audubon for Ted Williams's article "Burning Money" [January-February]. As a retired 25-year employee of the National Park Service I have been waiting for someone in the conservation community to address the federal firefighting scam. I often joke with friends in various Interior Department agencies that the federal fire policy is "to start fires when they are not burning and extinguish them when they are." It's a surefire method of guaranteed employment. As the sacred cow of firefighting burns up more and more money, federal fire-suppression policy may finally get the attention it deserves.
I am grateful to ted williams for his treatment of wildland firefighting. As a veteran of more than 20 fire seasons, I, too, was in Yellowstone's backcountry during "Black Saturday." Later, winter snow and cold air did in a day what thousands of firefighters and millions of dollars could not. As Williams skillfully articulated, this Bonfire of Vanity is acted out summer after summer. With his pen, he will likely have more effect [on the industry of fire] than my crews ever did.
Check It Out
Earth almanac makes an outdated and misleading statement about the long-tailed duck (formerly known as the "oldsquaw"). You say that they are "now being called long-tailed ducks by the politically correct." In fact, the name of this bird was officially changed to long-tailed duck by the American
Ornithological Union in the 42nd supplement to its Checklist, in July 2000. Furthermore, this change returned the species to its former longstanding name, which had been in use until about 1900.
Raising the Bar
Kudos for recognizing Bill Paul's efforts ["Living with Wolves," November-December 2000]. Paul has been on the front lines of Minnesota wolf issues for most of these past 25 years. With the proposed reclassification of gray wolves in our future, Michigan will soon be faced with the advent of lethal control in managing our growing wolf population. The challenge for those of us actively engaged in wolf recovery and education will be to present lethal control as a component of successful wolf recovery. Paul has met this challenge and has set a high standard for the rest of us.
Dorothy F. McLeer
The Cats Thank You
I want to thank Wendy Williams and Audubon for "The Ghost Cat's Ninth Life" [July-August 2000]. This article not only generated a great deal of interest and concern in South Texas but also inspired your readers to donate more than $13,000 to the Adopt-an-Ocelot Fund, enabling us to buy small yet crucial parcels of habitat for the ocelot and other native animals. We want to thank everyone for their generous contributions.
Linda Laack & Sue Griffin
For more information, write Adopt-an-Ocelot, P.O. Box 942, Rio Hondo, TX 78583, or call 956-748-3607.
© 2001 NASI
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