It is Time for the Northern Forest Alliance to be Challenged and Defused

An article entitled “The Northern Forest Alliance Must Be Challenged,” which appeared in the January-March 1996 issue of New Yorks Property Rights Clearinghouse, made a solid, defensible case for the rejection of the Alliance and what it had in mind for 26 million acres of land extending from Tug Hill in New York to Aroostook County, Maine. This writing took off on an Alliance brochure, The Northern Forest, A Legacy for the Future, and complimented them for such an attractive piece of work; one that would have high emotional appeal.

The claim was made that the Northern Forest was being lost; the culprits being the loggers, developers, and landowners. The call for a challenge asked whether the people who reside in this region might feel that the siege is in the form of persistent attacks by the likes of the Northern Forests Land Council, the Northern Forest Alliance, the Adirondack Park Agency, Lake Champlain Basin Program, Act 250, and LURC. It posed the question of who delegated the Alliance, a private advocacy, decidedly special-interest group, the responsibility for developing master plans for the so-called Northern Forest. Or were they self-appointed saviors?

It was noted that logical reasons were never given for subjecting these lands to such scrutiny. And, there was no continuity, within the area, in physiographic features, it was by no means continuous forest, and there is a great diversity in traditions, culture, and economics. The case was made that the Northern Forest Lands Council had spent millions of the public’s money to find out that the preconceived notion of major changes in land ownership and use was invalid. It was recalled that this was the assumption that led to the Council’s creation.

The Clearinghouse article noted the Alliance’s use of emotionally charged terms such as clearcuts; which incidentally are very acceptable, sensible and sound forest management practices, especially when dealing with short-lived, shallow-rooted species such as spruce and fir. And clearcutting can contribute greatly to biodiversity. Other scare tactics involved reference to highgrading and herbicides. The matter of just what are the credentials of the authors of and contributors to the Alliance brochure might be and whether they had the training and experience to lead such an undertaking, if by some stretch of the imagination it was deemed appropriate and necessary.

Questions were also raised regarding the assumption that public meetings provide a reliable measure of the will of the people, the intent to create a sense of urgency (the Northern Forest Land Council had concluded in Finding Common Ground that their recommendations were not quick solutions, not a response to an imminent crisis, but rather each state should act deliberately to carry on the work the Council had begun), as to when any such government concoctions ever enhanced the economic well being of the natives, how one is to believe that the intention is to restore a sense of stewardship and preserve communities, the overstepping of barriers by the federal government, the notion that the Alliance will create an open public process, whether promises of adherence to willing sellers policy would ever be adhered to, efforts to foster adversarial relationships, justification for derogatory statements about the forestry profession, use of the tax structure to destroy target parties, the need for a Northern Forest Ecosystem Center, the meaning of the term ecologically sound, the need to guide development away from undeveloped forest areas, what would be the reaction if a landowner from Highmarket, New York or Island Pond, Vermont ventured onto Alliance member’s property and prepared plans on what he could do with it, what was meant by the residents of the Northern Forest having an unprecedented opportunity, how many acres of land would have to be set aside to meet any real or imagined needs, might not they conclude that New York already has more than enough, what species of wildlife are seeing their habitat degraded and is a shortage of these species measured by any real need, the statement that public lands are scarce and overcrowded, why in these discussions no thanks are given to the private landowners who provide a home for the public wildlife and places for people to recreate, the need for a wildlands system when one already exists unless the goal is to totally eliminate man as desired by the Wildland Project, any forest management must meet ecological guidelines whatever they might be, that clearcutting causes job losses while nonsensical restrictions on sound forest practices in fact does, and finally the caption that suggests that to show that you care about the Northern Forest you must agree with the Alliance. Had enough? If you read one quarter of this, you should have.

Indeed there is a plethora of legitimate, common-sensical reasons for challenging the presumptuous Northern Forest Alliance. Unfortunately, to date no one has really launched an effective offensive to challenge and peaceably force this disgustingly well-heeled, ultra-liberal, totally green environmental consortium into oblivion. All those individuals who will be significantly affected adversely by this monster must unite, or at least effectively encourage their representatives, to do battle. And, believe it or not, this includes everybody except the ring leaders of the intrusive Alliance.

And the monster continues to grow in size and power. In 1996 it could boast that it was comprised of 26 organizations. In 2002 the list had grown to close to 50, including the likes of the Adirondack Council, Adirondack, Mountain Club, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, Defenders of Wildlife, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York League of Conservation Voters, North Woods Wilderness Trust, Student Environmental Action Coalition, and World Wildlife Fund. A number of these at one time were noble institutions, but have been taken over by extreme environmentalists who have a definite left-lean in respect to political philosophy. The common denominator with such an array of activists is that they employ bad science, scare tactics, and play on human emotions. And, they are disgustingly successful. Also, it can be noted that there is little balance in the membership. For examples, where are the representatives of the timber industry, hunting clubs, land developers and private landowners?

Northern Forest Council and Alliance Origin

By now the reader must be quite confused and overwhelmed as to how and why the Northern Forest Alliance came into being and just what they are trying to accomplish. It might then be desirable to go back in history to identify all the cast of characters and the course of events. The evolution started in 1990 with the creation of the Northern Forest Land Council which was an outgrowth of a study by the United States Congress. The Governors of each of the four states appointed members to the council and there was one representative from the United States Forest Service. This group was funded to the tune of five million dollars. There were many questions as to the need for such an entity, but at least it had the noble objective of helping to maintain the traditional patterns of land ownership and use.

Among other things, the Land Council commissioned the prestigious James W. Sewall Company, located in Maine, to do a study of recent land dealings in the so-called Northern Forest. Sewall found that 38 percent of all acquisitions were made by state agencies and conservation groups, with only three percent involving developers and speculators. A total of 55 percent of the change in ownership resulted from one timber company selling real estate to another. This came as quite a surprise to the Council and convinced them that their perceived fears regarding land conversion were unfounded. They concluded that there was no sense of urgency and even disapproved the need for their own existence and also the Forest Legacy Program that have been enacted by Congress. This is interesting since at one point they had recommended a multi-state zoning agency. Their final production, Finding Common Ground, told it the way it was.

But the truth did not matter to the environmentalists. Despite the fact that the fear of the Northern Forest being lost had been totally dispelled, the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Wilderness Society, and other ultra-green environmental groups continued their obnoxious cry of the threat of development, and in 1995 called for an end to logging and creation of ten new wild areas from New York to Maine. Unfortunately, if there is not a massive ground swell of public opposition, these radical elements of society will have their way and another major dent will be made in the traditional American way of life.

The Wildlands Project

In any discussion involving the activities of environmental groups throughout the United States, mention must be made of the Wildlands Project, since it has had such a striking influence on their goals, strategies, and programs. A review of their publication Wild Earth makes it quite apparent that they are another of the self-appointed saviors of Planet Earth. At the 1993 meeting of the Society of Conservation Biologists, Reed Noss, who had been active in the extreme elements of the environmental movement for years, gave a paper outlining a plan for protecting North American biodiversity, employing gap analysis to design a network of wilderness reserves, human buffer zones, and wildlife corridors. Involved in the Wildlands Project would be about half of the continent. These people. admittedly have a deep-rooted disdain for people and human progress.

If all this sounds familiar, it certainly should. A little detective work and the putting of the pieces of together reveals a close link. Major environmental groups have become addicted to the Wildlands drugs, buying into the Project’s concepts. All this should raise a warning flag that better be heeded. If one takes the time to read through the publications of the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and yes, the Northern Forest Alliance, along with publications of many state and federal forestry and fish and wildlife agencies, the bells will ring and the concerted drive for nationalization of lands, denial of private property rights, elimination of logging, and other drastic controls by big brother will become apparent. Be advised, the environmentalists are becoming more aware of possible backlash and will temper their writings in reaction to possible tarnishing of their image. This is very apparent in some of the material that is available on the Northern Forest Alliance website.

Northern Forest Alliance Website

Yes, the Alliance has a very impressive, attractive website replete with catchy text and esthetically-pleasing color photo images of the scenery the so-called Northern Forest has to offer. They obviously have a wealth of funds at their disposal and are well-staffed with individuals who are well-versed in the art of advertising and manipulating public opinion. This would be great, if this consortium was dedicated to truth and honesty.

One section of their website, “About the NFA” serves as an introduction to their coalition, stating that they are united in their commitment to protect the Northern Forest. Their vision is to achieve a sustainable future, in which its Wildlands (up goes the warning flag) are permanently protected, its forests are sustainable managed, and its local economics and communities remain strong and vibrant. Please note the previously-mentioned tempering of their writings to make things more appealing. But, does not all this sound extremely presumptuous? Who delegated them the responsibility for devising a master plan for 26 million acres of land and executing its implementation? Surely they must be aware of the many legitimately established federal, state, and local governmental agencies that, by law, are delegated such responsibilities.

And, by law, the non-migratory species of fish and wildlife belong to the people of each of the states, while the federal government has jurisdiction over migratory species. And what about the poor private landowner? Does he not have any say in these matters? After all, his rights are protected by the United States Constitution, at least they used to be, and he does own the trees and other flora that happen to grow on his land. Yes, the Alliance must be challenged in a very disciplined matter. And let it be remembered that the Northern Forest Land Council found that the assumed fears regarding land conversion were unfounded and that there was no need for an entity such as theirs to exist. Why then is the Northern Forest Alliance in existence and why is it given anybody or anything’s blessings? Just what do you suppose their motives are? Control over the land, its natural resources, and its people. And to make matters worse, they are supported by many elected representatives; federal, state, and local; in New York, Vermont, Maine, and to a lesser extent the more conservative State of New Hampshire.

Watch out, here comes the goo. Their mission is to work together protect and enhance the ecological and economic sustainability of natural resources and human communities. Is not that wonderful, giving one a warm feeling? This sure suggests that various governmental individuals and agencies have given the Alliance their blessings and support their efforts. Are not there laws and regulations in place that dictate the grounds for any alliance between the private and public sector. This certainly should be looked into.

In their statement of goals it is specified that their priorities are threefold. What gives them the power to set priorities on the lives of millions of people and the land they own-either privately or publicly? This is totally our of whack, and they should be taken to task for such utterances. They seek to protect the forest’s ecological integrity, whatever that might be, and to support its recreational opportunities and the sustainability of its timber production. Supporting recreational opportunity is fine, but timber production is really none of their darn business. This is a private matter and much is dictated by economics and markets, and the desire of the landowner. It would be nice, however, if all the big brothers that exist could encourage a healthy climate for such endeavors.

The second priority is to encourage well managed private forest to support the forest-based economy. Are they going to behave in true liberal fashion and subsidize this industry, which is indeed on shaky legs? And, they want to get involved in recreation tourism which indicates that tourists do not always recreate. Whatever the case, they want to assume the role of social engineers and micro-manage people’s lives. Probably the true Americans would rather go broke than to tolerate such intrusion, especially by a group that has no authority or credentials. Again, the self-appointed saviors.

The third is to build strong, diverse (yes, to be politically correct must have diversity), locally-based economies that support vibrant communities. Sure sounds grandiose. Since they are disgustingly wealthy why do they not just buy the whole 26 million acres, declare it one big common, showing us how utopias are created. Speaking of vibrant, most people live in or visit the boonies to get away from vibrations and pulsation.

Then there is a piece entitled “Forestry for the Future” on www.northernforestalliance.org. It would be interesting to know, since they are so dedicated to healthy forests, why they do not have any of the many timber companies, consulting foresters, or groups that understand and practice sound forest management among their illustrious membership. Obviously, they must feel that these are the enemies that for many years have devastated the forests and destroyed countless square miles of pristine wildlife habitat. It is funny, these people speak and write as if they were part of the communities that exist in the so-called Northern Forest, but how many actually live within the bounds? Chances are that most are city or sprawl dwellers, whose yards are covered with concrete or asphalt, or they mow their lawns religiously. Talk about the ultimate in clearcutting- trees never stand a chance. Maybe they should clean up their own messes, before they stick their noses in what they consider other people’s.

What the devil is meant by ecologically healthy or ecological health, or ecologically viable, or ecological integrity? Sure sounds highly technical, but ecology is simply the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment, and would you believe these relationships are continually changing naturally before one’s eyes and thus all are always endangered? Their terms should be defined, but such might be too high brow to be understood by any but the elite.

And, of course, all such noble alliances have a vision. Theirs calls for a more structurally complex forest with more mature trees; more stands of mixed species, sizes and age; and the full diversity of naturally occurring plants, animals, and natural communities. What in God’s name for? Very few humans ever get to see even a very miniscule part of a forest anywhere, and the trees and other flora do not care, nor do the critters. The forest inhabitants are very flexible and constantly adjust to the changes of the, if you will pardon the expression, ecosystems. The vision also includes management practices that mimic natural processes. Those who have gotten duff under their fingernails, spruce gum on their fingers, arms tattooed with blackfly bites, and splattering of paint from a marking gun know that logging mimics Mother Nature, but in a more orderly manner. This is one of numerous times when the packrat mentality and insatiable appetites of the environmentalists becomes very apparent. They just want more, more, ad infinitum. That is enough discussion of their vision. What really gave these visionaries the responsibility to even suggest all these dictates?

Then they have an economic niche, whatever that means. Here again they are assuming the role of the King and court, dictating to the serfdom. The Alliance sure talks like it has been blessed with total control. It would be interesting to know how and why
such an attitude came to be; certainly not from the heavens. One statement gives a clue to expected degree of control; that being “establish sustainable forestry benchmarks and voluntary programs.” Chances are that in their dreams voluntary ones are vary rare. This whole scenario is scary.

At this point the web-siter can click here for the thrill of viewing “Principles of Sustainable Forestry.” What a masterpiece of oration by the self-appointed (or maybe not) social planners of the type that are dedicated to big brotherism. This is like a bad dream and it is difficult to believe that this is really happening. Is this Russia, Sweden, Iraq, China, or North Korea? No this is happening in the once-free U.S. of A. Those people are acting as if they own the whole Northern Forest or have been contracted by some entity to draw up a master plan for the 26 million acres. Something smells, actually the whole affair.

The Alliance does do a little lip service by saying that to ensure a sustainable future for the region it will require a coordinated effort among the region’s citizens, landowners, public agencies and organized groups. Sure sounds like a nice cozy relationship. But who the devil asked for their advice? And, how can anybody believe that they would ever adhere to what they say. The member groups and any accomplice public agencies have a horrible track record in respect to honesty and keeping one’s promises. For example, the enabling legislation for the creation of National Forests had as its goal ensuring a future supply of timber and of course many Wilderness Areas have been designated within Forest bounds. Then they present their five principles. Some would question whether the environmentalists know anything about principles. Included is a grocery list of wonderful things that would be realized in their utopia. Would these ultimatums; such as maintaining habitat, identifying fragile natural areas, use of harvest techniques that reflect natural disturbance, maintenance of large live trees and snags, maintenance of a full range of forest age classes and structures, include areas with no timbering where natural ecological procedures can take place, regular monitoring of forest composition, provide appropriate public access, mitigate the aesthetic impact; apply to all lands regardless who owns them? Once again they seem to have no respect for the U.S. Constitution and private property rights.

And, the social engineers will sustain the potential long-term economic return to the landowner. Frankly, this is none of their darned business. Pray tell how could anyone ever make a profit with these utopians regulating them to death? Come to think of it, this is a slick way to make a Northern Forest landowner a willing seller. This would be much quicker than waiting for the victim to default on his taxes. As to public lands, have all the involved public agencies bought into this maze of regulations and abuse? Could it be that a major, illegitimate conspiracy exists? Praise the Lord, they will give the owner flexibility in the mix of stewardship methods. This would be so nice to let them pick their lethal poison.

The website also offers a briefer on Wildlands, a land category that was discussed earlier in connection with the radical environmental movement. They announce that they have identified ten, but it is not clear how these differ from the other lands within the Forest. Could this just be the first step in socializing the whole 26 million acres? They state that the Wildlands will continue to provide open access for hunting, hiking, fishing and camping; and support sustainable timber harvesting. But, can any reader who has managed to persevere this far really believe any of this?

One of the ten Wildland Area was selected for further review. It was felt that this would be enough for anyone to handle, or actually more that enough even for one with an ultra-strong constitution. Greater Baxter was the one of choice, since it has had received the greatest amount of play lately. One article related the concerns of the person responsible for managing Baxter State Park. They had somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 visitors in one year and this exceeded their capacity , as far as handling the mobs. This is interesting, since a number of race tracks handle a greater number for a few hours during a NASCAR Winston Cup event. The Park is quite large, but when the hikers descend to the top of Katahdin they sure can impact the fragile flora and soil. A word of advice to the Park managers; rip down those ugly non-conforming trail markers, let the trail grow up, burn down the lean-tos, throw away all literature and reroute the Appalachian Trail to Millinocket. This should greatly alleviate the problems.

The proposed Wildland would constitute a gigantic increase in acreage over the existing Park. The 2,301 square mile Wildland would be larger than the State of Delaware and close to twice the size of Rhode Island. If it were square in shape its dimensions would be 45 miles each side. That sure provides an impressive laboratory for the radicals to conduct their sociological studies. Would you believe that the Alliance might desire to have at least 50 percent of the entire United States locked up in such a manner? This certainly seems to be the direction they are going. Might the time be overdue for all this arrogance and abuse to be brought to a screeching halt?

The Alliance goes to great lengths in their flowery praise of the high value lakes, rivers, mountains, diverse land forms, undeveloped character, outstanding river and upland wildlife habitat for eagles, loons, martin, lynx and yes- what everyone needs - wolves. The fisheries are rated as outstanding. The pristine small lakes and remote ponds are unequaled. How could all this be after over 100 years of devastation and abuse by the wicked timber and pulp industry? Possibly they were good stewards after all. Not only that, but they have provided millions of hours of recreation opportunities, a home for countless wildlife, fish, and plant species; and all this at very little expense to the public. But the master planners cannot leave good things alone. They are the destroyers, devastators, and abusers. And, remember once more that early on the Northern Forest Council spent millions of the public’s money to find out that the preconceived notion of major changes in land ownership and use was totally invalid. Let us face it, the major threat to the so-called Northern Forest is the insatiable appetite of the Northern Forest Alliance.

Amen. And, God bless the U.S. of A..We must all unite to defeat the monsters that threaten the traditional American way of life. If nothing else, refrain from sending monetary contributions to these radicals. It is bad enough that some of your tax money is already helping to finance them.

 

Nate Dickinson
December 10, 2002
Common Sense Wildlife Management

Email Nate Dickinson: rdickinson@nycap.rr.com

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