U.S. Forest Service Looks Into 'Green' Certifications
The Collins Companies (no relation to Sally Collins), the first timber company in North America to win FSC certification, greened up its act to gain a marketing advantage, and hopes bringing in a third party to validate the national forests will break the gridlock that has crippled timber production from federal lands and allowed wildfires on national forests to damage private timber.
"I'm a fourth generation lumberman," said Wade Mosby, senior vice president of the Collins Companies, which has headquarters in Portland. "What my dad and grandfather did is not accepted practice today. There is a balance. That pendulum needs to swing back. It needs to be done in a sustainable way, not a political manner. Let the professionals decide. That's what this does."
Environmental groups are wary, wondering whether standards for industrial forests can be translated to public lands where fish and wildlife habitat, clean water and recreation are supposed to get equal treatment, and whether this is laying the groundwork to toss out the environmental laws that have given them so many court victories.
"We are very skeptical this is going to be an adequate replacement," said Mike Anderson, an analyst for The Wilderness Society. "Lots of people have said the Forest Service needs to rebuild trust with the public. That's certainly true. But you know, I just don't know whether certification has really improved public acceptance of private land logging practices."
Robert Hrubes, senior vice president of Scientific Certification Systems, in Emeryville, California, will visit the Fremont National Forest in November with a team that will start looking at the Lakeview Cooperative Sustained Yield Unit, nearly 500,000 acres devoted to producing timber for local mills. They will look at paperwork, forest plans and the forest itself to see if it is sustainable environmentally, socially and economically.