Boise Cascade to stop old-growth logging
March 15, 2002
didn't affect decision, CEO says
After years of dueling with environmentalists, Boise Cascade Inc. has decided
it will phase out its old-growth harvest over the next two years.
No formal announcement was made, but the new policy was posted on the company´s
Web site this week.
CEO George Harad confirmed the decision Thursday.
For nearly two years, the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental group,
has waged a campaign against Boise Cascade, calling the Boise company the
"dinosaur of the logging industry" for continuing to cut trees in old-growth
Environmentalists say 94 percent of America´s original old-growth forests
-- with giant trees that can be several hundred years old -- have already
been lost, and that the rest should be preserved to protect biodiversity
and ensure the survival of creatures such as spotted owls.
But Harad said the company´s decision wasn´t based on pressure from environmentalists.
"They can say whatever they´re going to say," Harad said. "Our decision
had much more to do with the direction the Forest Service is going and
the sales that would be offered."
He said that given the current direction of federal forest policy, which
already was phasing out old growth sales, the company decided the time
was right to start to phase out old-growth harvesting.
"We will fulfill what contracts we have, but in 18 to 24 months, we will
be completely out," he said.
Harad said old-growth trees accounted for only about half of 1 percent
of the company´s total timber harvest last year.
"It´s not material to our operations," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Rainforest Action Network -- known as RAN by timber
industry officials and environmentalists -- said that despite the company´s
decision, the campaign against Boise Cascade would continue.
"We´re not buying it," Jennifer Krill, RAN´s old-growth campaign director,
said of the company´s decision. "Honestly, we don´t think it represents
any meaningful change."
Krill said eliminating old-growth harvesting in the United States is only
one of several goals her group has in its campaign against Boise Cascade.
Krill maintains that Boise Cascade is guilty of buying and distributing
old-growth forest products from endangered old-growth forests throughout
Canada, Central and South America and Southeast Asia.
Boise Cascade denies those allegations.
Harad said Boise Cascade would be willing to sit down and try to come to
a compromise with the Rainforest Action Network if the group would admit
it has been spreading false allegations about the company.
"Our view is unless we can put a stop to that, and they admit the statements
are false, there is no basis to build a relationship," Harad said.
Krill said her organization stands by its claims. She said the company
could resolve many of them if it would adopt a "chain of custody" policy
that would allow any customer who buys a product to know exactly where
the raw materials for that product came from.
"Without a chain of custody, there´s no way of knowing if they are telling
the truth," Krill said.
A company spokesman, Mike Moser, said the "chain of custody" issue wasn´t
even mentioned in the first set of demands RAN gave to Boise Cascade nearly
two years ago.
The battle between the Rainforest Action Network and Boise Cascade shows
no signs of abating. Krill said her organization continues to target Boise
Cascade customers, urging them to confront Boise Cascade on the old-growth
Recently, Boise Cascade lost a contract with Kinko´s, the world´s largest
copy center chain. RAN leaders said Boise Cascade lost the contract because
its position on old-growth forest practices didn´t comply with Kinko´s
environmental position. Kinko´s officials haven´t commented on why the
company lost the contract, but Harad insisted it had nothing to do with
"That´s not true," Harad said, adding that the company lost a competitive
bid with its competitor, International Paper, for Kinko´s business. Harad
said the company wins and loses bids all the time, and the loss of Kinko´s
is not expected to have any serious effect on the company.
And given current conditions, Boise Cascade´s decision to end old-growth
harvesting is an easy one, said Jay O´Laughlin, a professor of forest resources
at the University of Idaho.
During the 1990s, O´Laughlin said, timber sales in Idaho and the West declined
by 80 percent, and most sales that are offered now -- whether they include
old growth or not -- are routinely appealed by special-interest groups.
"The extent that old-growth timber has been put up for sale is the big
question," O´Laughlin said. "I would be very surprised if the Forest Service
is advertising any timber sales in old-growth."
Because of the minuscule amount of old-growth that Boise Cascade harvested,
O´Laughlin said, the company´s decision isn´t very significant.
"My personal opinion is that I don´t think this will help or harm them
to make a statement like that," he said.
Harad said Boise Cascade still believes the harvesting of old-growth timber
can be beneficial to a forest´s health, but he admitted that it was very
difficult to explain the importance of such harvesting to the public.
O´Laughlin said one of the things that causes confusion with the public
is a lack of a standard definition of old-growth timber.
"Technically, what is old growth?" O´Laughlin asked. "The last time the
Forest Service tried to determine that, it came up with 137 different definitions."
Some use age as the guiding factor; others use a tree´s diameter; still
others identify a particular type of forest and label it old growth, O´Laughlin
To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Ken Dey at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 377-6428.
Source: The Idaho Statesman
Leavenworth Audubon Adopt-a-Forest
PO Box 154
Peshastin, WA 98847
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