Research Paper: Ax Men v. Timber Management

Pages: 3 (1055 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues  ·  Buy This Paper

Ax Men v. Timber Management

Sustainability and the depiction of logging in the History Channel's Ax Men

The television series Ax Men lionizes the bravery of men who are involved in the logging industry. However, because of concerns about the environmental sustainability of widespread logging, the laudatory tone of the History Channel series has also drawn a great deal of controversy. The show has been criticized for glorifying a practice which destroys the natural environment of states of the union where widespread logging is practiced. This controversy grew even more intense after the stars of the show were found guilty of illegal logging. "The [Washington] state Department of Natural Resources has seized more than two dozen logs it says a timber crew featured on the History Channel's reality show Ax Men salvaged illegally" ("Stars of Ax Men," AP, 2009). "It is unfortunate that the History Channel has chosen to glorify illegal activity and unsafe logging practices on their television program," said the state's Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark (Cornwall 2009).

The practice in question was that of "salvaging logs from the Hoquiam River without permits…the state normally doesn't issue permits for underwater log salvage because of the potential ecological impacts of pulling the logs from the river" (Cornwall 2009). The casual nature of the men's violation suggested that it was not uncommon for them to act in such an unsustainable manner, given that they did so confidently on camera. Environmentalists allege that such incidents exemplify the carelessness of the logging industry and the lack of concern shown by loggers for the environment and basic environmental regulations regarding sustainable logging.

Supporters of the logging industry state that, given the high unemployment rates in the southwestern United States, this is no time to place the environment over human lives and sustainability must take a backseat to job growth. Long-term environmental concerns, they state, mean little when massive numbers of people are out of work and desperately looking for jobs. Yet the overall viability of the logging industry within the region has been under increasing scrutiny, environmental questions aside for more than twenty years. "Even with sustainable forest management, financial and technological changes are decreasing the employment opportunities in rural communities. The contribution of the logging industry to local economies has been decreasing due to timber competition from other regions, technological change" as well as environmental regulations (Levi & Kotcher 1995). The state of Oregon was torn apart during the 1990s, because of environmentalist's support of expanding the protection of the endangered Spotted Owl, whose survival they believed was critical for the ecosystem of the region but even without such restrictions, the region could not have been protected from the bottoming out of the construction market.

While the U.S. federal courts have largely supported efforts to preserve the habitat of the Spotted Owl, the recent economic downturn has caused sentiment to turn against environmentalists and advocates of more sustainable logging practices. For example, in 2009, to preserve the state of Oregon's timber industry, the Board of Forestry announced its plans to increase the cutting of timber in Oregon's state-owned forests. "The hope is that by cutting more trees, hard-hit rural… [END OF PREVIEW]

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