Bush Regime Retaliates Against Study That Challenges Its Forest Policy

February 8, 2006

On January 20, the journal Science published a scientific paper by an Oregon State University graduate student in Forestry named Daniel Donato. Donato’s research appears to shoot holes in the Bush administration’s longstanding claims that heavy logging of fire-damaged areas accelerates recovery. Turns out heavy logging may impede recovery of burned forest land and increase fire risk. (Here are links to an abstract of the paper and online supporting material. The full article costs $10 from the magazine.)

Prior to the publication of the article, several professors in the Oregon State School of Forestry, which is cozy with the US Forest Service and the timber industry, tried to force Science to cancel publication of the paper. OSU’s attempt to censor their own student prompted top Science editor Donald Kennedy to state that the professors were “trying to rewind history”. (Something the Bush administration does well.)

The Oregonian newspaper picked up the story and exposed the hypocrisy of the School of Forestry, whose professors feared the loss of funding from their cronies in government and industry. Subsequently, as they feared, the Bush administration threw gas on the fire by cutting funding to the OSU program that conducted the research.

[Flashback: When George W. Bush came to Portland, Oregon shortly after the August 2002 Biscuit Fire to raise millions of dollars from wealthy Republican donors and announce his new forestry initiative, dubbed “Clearcuts Don’t Burn”, thousands of demonstrators met him at the Hilton Hotel to express their displeasure. They were subsequently doused with gallons of pepper spray, shoved with batons, and shot with rubber bullets by the Portland police and other city and state police agencies, as noted in this radio report about the resulting federal lawsuit.]

[Postscript: Here is an article about the congressional hearing on the dustup, where elected officials grilled Donato about his research methods.]

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