Group Protests Timber Cut - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/12/03

Group Protests Timber Cut

Environmental groups are fighting a U.S. Forest Service plan to cut several hundred acres of pine trees in DeSoto National Forest.

Opponents claim the proposed timber cuts are unnecessary and out of place near the scenic Black Creek Wilderness Trail.

The Forest Service says the timber cuts are part of an accepted management plan... designed to enhance the overall health of the forest.

Environmental opponents held protest signs and sang demonstration songs to Christmas carol music. They also brought a bag of switches to the DeSoto National Forest headquarters, saying forest rangers have been naughty this year for promoting the Black Creek timber sale.

The plan includes thinning more than one thousand hundred acres of trees and clear cutting about two hundred acres.

Sierra club Santa and his band of environmental elves brought special Christmas carols and a stocking full of switches to the DeSoto National Forest headquarters. The group is upset over plans to cut and sell timber in an area near Black Creek wilderness trail.

Davis Mounger is with the Sierra Club.

"They're going to be clearing out mature long leaf in the name of restoring long leaf. And this is something no other forest in the South does. And we can't seem to understand why this district considers that restoration," he said.

The planned clear cutting of more than two hundred acres is especially upsetting to some.

"That's not an advisable forestry practice. Your native long leafs on site would be great seed producers," said one demonstrator.

District ranger, Judy Henry, was a good sport, meeting the demonstrators and hearing their concerns. She says the proposed management plan was developed with the health of the forest in mind.

"To reduce the potential outbreak of Southern pine beetle. The vast majority of acres we'll be treating in this area is through thinning. And that allows us to mitigate the Southern pine beetle outbreak," said Henry.

The forest service management freely admits that economic concerns are a part of this environmental equation. After all, logging is big business in South Mississippi.

Log trucks rolling down the highway during the protest helped emphasize the economic impact. But protesters remain committed to stopping the cuts. 

By Steve Phillips

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