Web Articles   Digital Editions
Digital Edition Archives

Letter from Ed - Blind as a Bat
PE publisher explores the current news and issue on the environmental front.

By Dr. Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 1/1/1999

Letter from Ed
Dr. Edward C. Brindey, Jr., Ph.D. Publisher

To members of the forest products industry, the preservationists’ determination to turn over every environmental leaf and keep loggers out of the woods seems absurd. It can be viewed in terms of lost jobs, the value of wood products to our society, and the higher environmental cost of using substitute materials.

The spotted owl has become a household environmental word throughout society. When this owl first became the agent for environmental extremists, many of our friends in the hardwood industry viewed this new threat as a West Coast problem. As I talked with pallet people in the East, they expressed no real concern. The spotted owl had not come home to roost in their timberlands.

Buckle up for a ride because serious environmental pressures are now moving into the hardwood forests that cover much of the East. It is not the spotted owl, however, or the red cockaded woodpecker. It is the Indiana bat, a creature with a body less than two inches long.

The details can be confusing, but there is no question that preservationist groups are using the Indiana bat to push their agenda on private lands.

I understand that a bat census indicated a population of about 352,000 Indiana bats, which are listed as an Endangered Species. These bats hibernate in caves and then migrate to forests in the spring, with the males apparently staying relatively near the cave and the females traveling some distance.

Numerous forest products newsletters and the news media have reported recently on developments related to the Indiana bat.

The U.S. Forest Service found one Indiana bat in the southwest corner of the Allegheny National Forest. Recently, preservationists — in conjunction with the Allegheny Defense Project and Heartwood — seized on this opportunity and filed a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop logging on the Allegheny.

The Indiana bat has been used to close the Daniel Boone National Forest and various other public lands in the East. A federal judge in Kentucky enjoined all existing and future timber sales in the Daniel Boone until consultations under the ESA are properly conducted.

A federal judge in Missouri granted a temporary restraining order against harvesting salvage sales on the Mark Twain National Forest; the Forest Service apparently failed to give the Indiana bat top priority in its forest management decisions.

The Forest Service is reportedly slowing down timber sales on the Hoosier National Forest and Wayne National Forest as well. And the Indiana bat is being used to stop a project on the Shawnee National Forest to eliminate non-native pine on 10,000 acres and replace it with native hardwoods.

While much of the early preservationists’ efforts were directed toward public lands, they intend to gain control over private lands, too. Heartwood and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy plan to sue Allegheny Wood Products and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for ESA violations. They claim that suitable habitat for ESA species exists in West Virginia’s Blackwater Canyon. The preservationists argue that AWP’s forest management will "take" the Indiana bat and several other species. Move over private lands; here they come!

Maybe I am missing something. But it appears to me that many people are "blind as a bat" when it comes to environmental issues. Unfortunately, the public is absorbing preservationist claims as if they were fact, when more often than not they thrive on deception.

Those of us in hardwood country can no longer afford to stay on the sidelines like an innocent spectator. The coach has called us onto the field. If we do not help bring some sight to those who are being blinded, one day we may be wondering what train hit us. Work with your state, regional, and national associations to help them publicize the truth. We can not afford to be blind as a bat!

Do you want reprints or a copyright license for this article?   Click here

Research and connect with suppliers mentioned in this article using our FREE ZIP Online service.