Friday's Weekend Column
Get Out The Bug Spray

by James Glaser
July 18, 2003

Once again Northern Minnesota is saved from millions of people moving here by the Mosquito. Yesterday I saw my first of the year and today I saw a few hundred. Usually they are here a week after the last frost in May, but this year it was so great with out them till now. People up here will now have to get inside an hour before dark and not get up too early, or they will have to spray down with a lot of repellent.

This first batch is the little fast ones that land and start sucking blood in one motion. After a couple of weeks, no doubt the big ones will be here. The are loud, slow, and are really good at driving a person crazy. They do keep our property values down and because of that our taxes are low.

I was asked by the Sierra Club to cover a meeting in Bemidji, of the Minnesota Forest Industries. The MFI was giving a talk, trying to get local people to support their vision of how our National Forests should be logged. Both the Chippewa and Superior National Forests are doing a plan revision on how they will run our forests. The Chippewa starts right down the road about a mile from my house, so it matters here what they do.

I found it strange that three companies that sponsored this "information meeting" were foreign. Two from Finland and one from South Africa. The American companies like Boise, International Paper, and Weyerhaeuser are very large multinational corporations that don't really care about up here, just their bottom line.

Caring about your bottom lines means you want the National Forest to sell you all the wood you want. The National Forest has been working on this plan for seven years and The MFI along with the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, have presented their alternatives. We were given a 38 page fact sheet with lots of graphs to follow their slide show with. The Forest Service wants to use the plan they came up with and the Forest Industries want local people to write in and tell them no, use this other plan.

The real plan that was worked on for these last seven years is about nine inches thick, so who knows what is really in it. For sure the MFI cheery picked things they thought local people would not like. I am sure the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club would do the same if they were having a meeting.

It did bother me though that foreign companies were working to get American citizens to subvert a United States Forest Service Plan and I don't really think that Multinational Corporations are looking out for our forests either. It all comes down to money. It was stated that it costs the Forest Service 90 dollars to sell timber they get 60 dollars for. No matter how they said it, that sounded bad to me. I know it gives people jobs and we get paper to use, but we tax payers are still taking it in the shorts. This is a prime example of corporate welfare.

I don't know who has the best plan, but I do know in the years I have lived in Northern Minnesota the forest has changed a lot. Paper companies like those that sponsored this talk, want aspen for their mills and because of that we no longer have the pine forests we had when I moved here. These companies want to treat all forests like a farm that they can harvest and plant what they want.

The trouble with that is a forest is not just the trees. It is the foliage under the trees, the animals, and the soil itself. Aspen grows like a weed, but when you keep cutting it every thirty to thirty five years the soil starts to lose its nutrients. In Europe they fertilize their forest land and that filters down to the rivers and lakes and then you have to worry about the fish and drinking water.

We can't ruin what we have like they did years ago, because there is no longer empty land to move to like in the past. We have to live and protect what we have, as it has to last us from now on. I don't think corporations think that way. If they need that bottom dollar to rise, they will take everything and worry about what to do next, after they get their earnings up.

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