The Big River tract in California’s Mendocino County is a sprawling expanse of towering redwoods and Douglas firs, woods that for years have provided an ideal habitat for rare spotted owls and endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout. Now, it’s all up for sale.

Big River, neighboring Salmon Creek and dozens of other forests across the nation have come on the market in recent years as timber companies shed holdings that are worth more as real estate than as a source of lumber. The trend has spurred a land rush that has conservation groups scrambling to raise money to buy environmentally sensitive tracts in competition with private investors seeking to snap up the land for development.

A recent U.S. Forest Service study predicted that more than 44 million acres of private forest land, an area twice the size of Maine, will be sold over the next 25 years. The consulting firm U.S. Forest Capital estimates that half of all U.S. timberland has changed hands in the past decade. The Bush administration also wants to sell off forest land, by auctioning more than 300,000 acres of national forest to fund a rural school program.

“The nation has never seen anything like this,” said Conservation Fund President Lawrence A. Selzer, whose 20-year-old group is hoping to raise $48 million in the coming months to buy the 16,000 acres that make up Big River and Salmon Creek. “It has the potential to permanently and profoundly change the landscape of America.”

The United States still has large swaths of forest—much of it private—that provide critical habitat for large animals such as bears and cougars as well as and recreational opportunities for the public. But if the selling spree continues, environmentalists fear, these areas could be cut up into much smaller parcels in which condominiums and trailer parks would replace soaring trees.

And just who’s fault is it that timber companies don’t make enough money in timber to maintain?

HMMMMMMMMMMMMM?

At least the eeeeeeeeeeeeevile logging companies have a stake in forested land. DUH!

SondraK, unapologetic Lympian Slayer SondraK, unapologetic Lympian Slayer
03/20 at 11:15 PM •
(5) Say it, don't spray it... • (0) pings*link*
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