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You are here: Home » News » Clearcuts, landslides and flooding » Seattle Times: "Stop clear-cutting on steep slopes"

Seattle Times: "Stop clear-cutting on steep slopes"

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Letters to the Editor, December 23, 2007

Slope laid bare

Powerful image depicts "foul obscenity"

Editor, The Times:

Steve Ringman's photograph of Weyerhaeuser's clear-cut at Stillman Creek is one of the most powerful and elegant examples of the old expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" that I have ever seen ["Mudslide photo spurs look at logging practices," Local News, Dec. 16].

The photo captures in an instant the foul obscenity that is perpetrated on our planet every day so that the bottom line will look just a little better at the end of the next quarter.

Even more sickening is that this activity is all perfectly legal and approved by corporate-owned stooges in the government.

The photo also illustrates the axiom "watch what they do, not what they say."

Look at Ringman's photograph. Now look at Weyerhaeuser's "Values" statement on their corporate Web page where they proclaim we "hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct and environmental responsibility."

Tragically, most people believe this public-relations fraud because they want to. Corporate rape of the landscape is acceptable. Just show me the money and show it to me now.

Pete Wolfsehr, Ellensburg

Flood photo


Re: "Mudslide photo spurs look at logging practices" [Local News, Dec. 16].

Thank you for following up on Weyerhaeuser's Stillman Creek forest practices, highlighted by the photo accompanying Lynda Mapes' Dec. 9 article on the Chehalis River flood ["Did development, logging set the stage for disaster?" page one].

Weyerhaeuser's spokesman claims the Stillman Creek landslides are the result of "a catastrophic event, a natural disaster." The politest word for this dissembling is "greenwashing."

The storm itself may have been a natural event (although climate-change science indicates that the severity and frequency of such events is directly related to anthropogenic warming of the ocean). But the damage caused by the forest practices has only one proximate cause — Weyerhaeuser's state-permitted roads and clear-cuts on steep, unstable slopes. 

Weyerhaeuser has known for decades that clear-cut logging on such terrain inevitably leads to "catastrophic events." On the Chehalis River itself, the USGS long ago determined that such forest practices are a major contributor of sediment to Grays Harbor (where tax dollars are spent to dredge the shipping channel).

During the negotiations for the Forests and Fish rules in 1998, Weyerhaeuser and the rest of the timber industry refused to stop these high-risk logging practices. Stillman Creek running chocolate, rafts of logging debris in the floodplain, and heavily damaged aquatic habitat are the direct results.

Toby Thaler, Seattle

Stop clear-cutting on steep slopes

Well, I for one feel so much better about future floods now that I've read that Weyerhaeuser spokesman Frank Mendizabal says that they'll look to "see if we need to make any changes in our practices." I mean, we've all seen their slick advertisements telling us what gentle care the experts at Weyerhaeuser take with our public lands. Bambi and all his forest friends are so grateful.

Here's an idea: How about you stop clear-cutting on steep slopes. And does that geologist who said there were "no potentially unstable slopes" above Stillman Creek still have his job? If not, perhaps he could find work selling real estate in the wetlands near Chehalis.

Phil Cochran, Seattle

Who are they kidding?

I appreciate your photographer Steve Ringman lifting a corner of the shroud, and giving us a snapshot of the dirty secrets of industrial logging in our state. The subsequent whining and hollow mea culpas from Weyerhaeuser and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are as predictable as the landslides following the clear-cut, discussed in the article.

Who are they kidding? To believe WeyCo's claim of "natural disaster," I have to evoke a harsh god with chainsaws and corks. And for DNR ("Department of Nothing Remaining") to blindly rely on Weyerhaeuser's geologist to do DNR's job, is like letting Blackhawk investigate its own shenanigans in Iraq — totally irresponsible.

It is clear that Weyerhaeuser is only "green" during their interminable TV infomercials, and DNR is a responsible agency solely on paper. I don't know if it is incompetence, corruption or both, but the net result is corporate and regulatory malpractice of the highest order. The good people of the Boistfort Valley, and the state of Washington, deserve far better. I challenge Gov. Christine Gregoire to vigorously enforce state laws, and clean agency house. 

Paul Kennard, Seattle

Ugly legacy

After seeing the photo on the front page of Sunday's Local News, I have a couple of observations to offer:

One, the mudslides were triggered by a cataclysmic rainfall; 20 inches in a 24-hour period would be hazardous in almost any environment.

Two, can anyone, looking at the steeps of that denuded slope, believe that normal rainfall wouldn't cause severe runoff and impact Stillman Creek below? The fringe of buffer-zone timber left at creekside may adhere to the letter of the law, but is obviously inadequate given that terrain.

The law should be amended to reflect the severity of the slope when calculating buffers. Plus, looking at all the denuded ridgelines in the backdrop of the photo, I can only say that the era of such massive clear-cuts should be declared over.

What an ugly legacy to leave our children.

Geoff Tudor, Sequim

Who doesn't know this?

I just read about the photo that caused some Weyerhaeuser officials to consider changes to their logging practices. Huh? I'm not in the logging industry and am not a scientist, but I've known for 30 years now that clear-cutting, especially on steep slopes, screws up the drainage basins and the flood plains.

Is there really anyone in the Pacific Northwest who doesn't know that? I suppose it's nice that some changes are being contemplated, but it would be nicer if these decisions were being made by people who had the intelligence (or integrity?) to know these decisions were needed a long time ago.

The article also states that the state gave approval for the clear-cutting based on a report prepared by a Weyerhaeuser employee. Huh?

How do I get that kind of deal? It would be so cool to be the one who provides the information that determines how the government regulates me.

 Wow, I could do pretty much anything I wanted. Without the Weyerhaeuser geologist's report, according to the article, the state would have had to send out a geologist who actually works for the state.

John Peekstok, Seattle

Fox and henhouse

Say it ain't so. The DNR saved taxpayer money by relying on a Weyerhaeuser geologist instead of using one of their own. What a stroke of genius.

Isn't there a story about a fox and a henhouse in there somewhere?

Robert E. Gardner, Renton