Former U.S. Forest Service employee raises concern about the health of our forests

Jim Furnish has worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 34 years and Thursday, spoke about his concerns with the upward trends of logging and timber harvest in the Black Hills.
Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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According to US Forest data, 5 percent of the Earth’s population consumes an estimated 28 percent of the Earth’s industrial wood products. Although domestic timber inventory is only 10 percent of the Earth’s entire total, 96 percent of US consumption of industrial wood comes from the nation.

“And then of course I think they have to address the methodologies too and I think by harvesting less timber they can also soften the type of timber management that they’re doing,” said Jim Furnish, retired deputy chief, U.S. Forest Service.

One of the methods he’s talking about is overstory removal which cuts trees that create an upper canopy layer in the forest in order to advance tree growth. A methodology that is deemed unsustainable by some.

“One of the reasons they’re doing it is this pursuit of timber volume. They’re so dedicated to trying to produce this massive amount of timber harvest, that the only way they can do it now is to resort to these overstory removals and they’ve abandoned a lot of the historic management that they’ve practiced for decades on the Black Hills,” Furnish said.

We reached out to the U.S. Forest Service and a representative was unable to speak with us.

The Forest Service does say on its website that there are several projects taking place to improve forest health.

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