Corps Values This letter is to protest statements made by Toni DeBosier of the Department of Natural Resources in "Log Jam" (June 24).
DeBosier observed that the Corps of Engineers issued three cease-and-desist orders in 2003 that resulted in loggers leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of timber on the ground to rot, calling it a "waste of resources" and the result of dictation by a "very strong federal arm." These statements are misleading to the reader. The Corps demanded that the logs be left because they were multiple layers deep and to remove them would cause irreparable damage to the soil. DeBosier is aware of this.
She also knows that the law that provides Corps jurisdiction in this situation was amended by the U.S. Congress in 1968 to include additional factors besides navigation, including environmental concerns, wetlands, water quality and more. It is now called a "public interest review." The Corps was rightfully exercising its duty when demanding that the logs be left.
Louisiana's coastal wetland cypress forests are being threatened by a timber industry intent upon meeting a growing demand for cypress mulch. Louisiana is now asking the federal government for $1.9 billion in assistance for coastal restoration at the same time that Sen. David Vitter is trying to reduce regulation governing the clear-cutting of its forests that provide protection for the coast.
Recognizing the importance of these forests and the risk they face, Gov. Kathleen Blanco commissioned a group of scientists to study this very problem in 2004. Their report, issued in April of this year, did not sugarcoat the issue: "Total loss of wetland forests is nearly assured in most of coastal La. without active measure to ameliorate problems."
These forests are a part of our coastal ecosystem. They are also important to our culture and our heritage. Baton Rouge Audubon is disappointed in Gambit's incomplete and slanted coverage of this important issue. Cathy Coates Baton Rouge Audubon WhoÕs on secondary Ijust read the cover story about Louisiana's cypress forests. I think it is great to try to raise awareness about our state's No. 2 product, which is timber. I would have liked to have seen input from the secondary forest products industry. As a member of that industry, it is important to me that this resource be protected because without raw material I have no job or business.
It is important to add that, unlike oil, timber is a renewable resource; with proper study and management, it can be sustainable forever. According to the Louisiana Forest Products Research Lab at LSU, Louisiana has some of the nation's largest hardwood reserves, and we are planting and growing more trees than we cut. With people like Toni DeBosier involved in the forest production end of the equation, I am sure we will continue to maintain a good balance in this regard. Your story covered foresters, landowners, government entities and politicians, but the only secondary producers that were mentioned were mulch makers, a lowly use for a valuable resource. This oversight is not unusual.
What happens to that timber once it becomes boards? This is the part of the economic equation that is woefully neglected. In the other Southern states, the secondary value added to this raw material averages from $3 to $7 for every dollar of harvest value. Some states add as much as $12 per dollar of harvest. This has been the case for at least the past 10 to 15 years. Louisiana adds only $.98 per dollar of harvest value. This fact seems to indicate that our state could achieve much greater economic benefit simply by supporting and nurturing the existing secondary forest products in the ways that other industries -- such as sports, film, music or tourism -- are supported.
This would seem somewhat contradictory given current trends of shipping manufacturing jobs overseas, but this trend may come back to bite us. We certainly could continue selling our No. 2 resource as a low-value raw material, or we can choose to buck the trend and create good-paying, sustainable economic opportunity using a resource we already have. The choice is ours to make. When the oil is all pumped out of the ground, it is my hope that trees will still be growing and that people will still be able to make things from them.
P.S. Because cypress trees can live to be 1,000 to 1,500 years old, it may not be good to call an 80- to 100-year-old tree mature. That is like saying an 8- to 10-year-old is a mature human, given current human life span. There are enough misconceptions about trees already. Greg Arceneaux Oh, craps Well, I guess Jeremy Alford doesn't play craps. In "Stacking the Deck," (July 12), his "Dirty Dozen" segment describes a possible scenario in which the players and dealers conspire to pay out on large-odds bets. Jeremy's hypothetical situation goes on to say that an improbable craps number, such as 12, pays higher odds because of the few combinations of dice rolls that can produce that number, like six and six, or five and seven.
Umm ... unless these casino eyes-in-the-sky or other security personnel are heavily medicated or maybe blind, they would pick up on a die that had seven dots on it. Now that would be a story! Glen Steeb