HIGHTOWER: The Forest Service's Timber Scams

Time for another Hightower Radio "Hog Report".Mmmmm...These hogs are the giant timber and paper companies that are granted logging privileges in America's national forests. They're granted much more than the privilege to log, however -- we taxpayers also provide millions of dollars in annual subsidies by letting the corporations take our trees at waaaay below the market price, plus we even build thousands of miles of logging roads in the forests to make it easier and cheaper for them to take the timber out.Now, Mother Jones magazine reports that the U.S. Forest Service is providing an additional, high-tech, cosmetic subsidy for them. It amounts to a corporate PR scam, paid for by you and me. It's a 3 million-dollar, state-of-the-art, computer software program that helps the loggers hide their environment-destroying, clear-cutting practices from the public eye. Basically, it's a computerized game of hide-and-seek. To reduce the public's outrage at coming to a national forest and seeing acres and acres of stumps where majestic, thousand-year-old trees once stood, computer programs with names like "Smart Forest" and "Virtual Forest" allow the corporations to analyze the terrain so their clear-cuts can be done behind ridges, down in ravines, and on the back side of mountains. These out-of-sight-out-of-mind software programs are being put in all 800 Forest Service offices.The Forest Service also helps the companies create "beauty strips" along the tourist roads -- a veneer of trees that look great as you drive along, but behind the strip and beyond your view is the distressing sight of our magnificent forests entirely stripped of their trees. All of this is the Forest Service's way of letting us "have" our forests, while letting the timber companies eat them.This is Jim Hightower saying ... To stop the stupidity and the scam, contact a group called the Lands Council: 509-838-4912.

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