Taking a Closer Look at “Corporate Interests” and the Forest Service
This weekend, I ran across this op-ed piece in the Denver Post by JoAnne Ditmer. In it, she said:
That’s what critics call the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, which would erase current protections on more than 60 million acres of America’s undeveloped public lands, including 4.6 million acres in Colorado. The act would affect 55 million acres in national forests and almost 7 million acres in Bureau of Land Management properties, “releasing” them to corporate profit-making decisions.
I don’t think that that is exactly true, as there are regulations and environmental laws that intervene between “release” and “corporate decisions.” It’s not a simple and direct relationship.
The vast majority are in the West and this is an alarming signal that some powerful people think the West and its spectacular landscapes no longer deserve special protections. With protection removed, these irreplaceable lands would be open to destructive “multiple use” — oil and gas development, mining, timber harvests, off-road vehicles.
“Come help yourself to our national treasures” seems to be the motto.
I don’t think that timber harvests or off-road vehicles are best described as “corporate interests,” at least not here in the Interior West. Which is, after all, where the Denver Post is located. What I would call Urban Elk Country.
I know that corporations are unpopular these days, so therefore are good for inflammatory op-eds. And the word “corporations” comes from corpus or body- so all organizations, in a way, are “corporate.”
Nevertheless, I wonder if “corporate” really is a good term to use about the timber industry in the Interior West. In the WFLC Newsletter (here), I ran across this Photography Fellowship Blog for the International Year of Forests. Take a look, many interesting photos.
So I happened to click on one labelled “Ovando Montana” by Josh Birnbaum that showed the Pyramid Mountain Lumber mill (photo above). I wondered if the conversation would change if instead of “corporate timber interests” people substituted “local businesses that provide family-supporting-wage jobs in rural areas.”
And so back to our discussion of “corporate huckster” here. How about substituting for “corporate huckster” “supporter of local businesses that provide family-supporting wage jobs in rural areas and otherwise contribute to their communities.”
I don’t think we’ll be able to work our way out of our current economic crisis (bad for people, good for GHG reduction) without acknowledging that there is value to companies that providing goods and services to people, thereby providing jobs and taxes.
To my mind, there is a big, and important, differences between the Pyramid Valley Lumbers of the world, and, say, Conoco or Enron.