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Deforestation Of The Pacific Northwest

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577 words
Science & Nature

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One of the most controversial areas associated with the global problem
of deforestation is the Pacific Northwest of the US. The problem can be broken
down into several issues that all tie in together. These include the near
extinction of the Northern Spotted Owl, the "business" aspect of logging versus
the environmental aspect, and the role of the government in this problem.
In 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed. This enabled the
Dept. of Commerce and Dept. of the Interior to place species, either land or
marine, as either threatened or endangered. Under these terms species could no
longer be hunted, collected, injured or killed. The northern spotted owl falls
under the more serious condition of being endangered. Also, the bill forbids
federal agencies to fund or carry out any activity that would threaten the
species or its' habitat. It is the latter part of the bill that causes the
controversy. Under the ESA, loggers should not be allowed to cut down the old-
growth of the forest. The old growth of a forest includes the largest and
oldest trees, living or dead. In the case of the North Coast forests, this
includes some thousand-year-old stands with heights above three-hundred feet and
diameters of more than ten feet.
In 1990, the number of spotted owls dropped to 2000 breeding pairs. The
preservation of any species contributes to the biodiversity of an area. In an
ecosystem, the absence of one species creates unfavorable conditions for the
others. The absence of the spotted owl could have a significant effect on the
North Coast forest ecosystem. In order to send the owl population in the right
direction, the major problem for their decline would have to be remedied ' loss
of habitat. This fact combined with the owls' short life expectancy and late age
of breeding only exacerbates the problem. When loggers remove old growth the
owl loses habitat for its' food, housing, as well as protection from predators.
Approximately ninety percent of the forests in the Pacific Northwest have
already been harvested. In order to protect the current owl population, the
remaining forests would have to be preserved, but this would have a serious
negative economical effect. Such a decision would effect jobs, regional economy,
as well as the lifestyle of loggers. With such a great effect, to stop the
cutting seems to be an exercise in futility. On the other hand, by continuing
the destruction of the owls' habitat, the only suitable habitat that will remain
will be in the confines of a zoo. Seeing an animal in an artificial environment
can certainly not be compared to witnessing an animal in its' natural
environment. In my opinion, there can be no price put on the existence of any
species on this planet, plant or animal. To think that money has become such an
influential part of our society that companies are willing to sacrifice a
species in order to make a profit. The northern spotted owl is only one of many
species that are on the verge of extinction do to deforestation. Another
important consideration in the deforestation of the Pacific North Coast is
logging as a business. The investors of a publicly owned company sole concern

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Keywords: deforestation in the pacific northwest, is the pacific northwest a rainforest, deforestation of north america

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