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Old-growth harvest limits are good

There is an expression that goes, "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube." You also can't prop old growth timber back up once it has been felled. The Department of the Interior recognized that last week in making a wise decision to return limits on logging in the northwestern United States to their pre-Bush Administration levels.

The old growth forests in western Oregon are critical habitat for wildlife and the trees themselves are, of course, wonders of nature. Much of the wood harvested for lumber and paper products is the result of cultivated plantations, and harvesting that wood is little different than cutting wheat. But the old growth forests are remnants of the world as it was hundreds of years ago. Once they're cut down, they can never be replaced. And once those trees are cut, the ecosystems of which they are the dominant feature can never be recreated.

During the 1990s, loggers, environmentalists and the government reached a compromise on the amount of old growth timber that can be cut. President Bush's administration doubled the quota. Last week's decision restores harvesting to the 1994 levels.

This is undoubtedly not a good short-term development for those who make their livings harvesting big timber. But over the long-term it is wise policy; harvest it all now and there someday will be no jobs left among the big trees.

If the remaining old growth forests and the animals which live there are eradicated, it would be a mistake that can never be undone. There is room in our nation and in our economy for both survival of forests and survival of the logging business. We are glad the Department of the Interior restored limits on old-growth logging. -- Fergus Falls Daily Journal