UGA4799073 clear cut

The end of clear cutting in Georgia

Did you know that from the 1960s through the mid-90s many thousands of acres of your forests were being sold at a loss to you the tax payer by the U.S. Forest Service? The agency was building miles of damaging roads and clear cutting our forests with abandon. By the 80s, Georgians were shocked and fed up with what was happening. Georgia ForestWatch volunteers and the conservation community worked together to stop it. And stop it, we did!

Major victory means a more promising future for your forest

Clear cutting on the Chattahoochee National Forest increased from 13,000 acres in the 1960s to 36,500 acres in the 1980s. The U.S. Forest Service argued that this method was the most efficient method to harvest timber. But conservationists, ForestWatch volunteers, and even some independent loggers in North Georgia decried the practice as wasteful and destructive and countered that it would not lead to healthy forest regeneration. They also pointed out that the active clear cut program was resulting in a net loss to the taxpayers when all administrative costs, overhead and deferred maintenance on forest road systems were tallied. Surveyors, naturalists, hunters and botanists also noticed that 15-20-year-old clear cuts did not appear to have the same amount of oaks and hickories as forests prior to the cut. The agency just turned its back, kept on cutting and actually increased its pace.

Georgia ForestWatch volunteers struggled and worked hard and smart through the 1980s and early 1990s to halt these damaging timber sales characterized by clear cutting, siltation of streams, runaway road building and disruption of rare habitat. This effort was finally rewarded by a federal court decision in the 1996 case, Sierra v Martin, which halted when a panel of federal judges ruled that the Forest Service had failed in its duty to monitor the effects of its timber program — bringing a halt to the controversial logging practice.

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Slide show: 200 year history of timber harvest – Coming soon!

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