Why does this famous protector of trees now want to cut some down? 

Jerry Franklin has spent much of his life in the company of giants. From his childhood in the woods of Washington state to a scientific career that catapulted him to international prominence, the towering trees of the U.S. Pacific Northwest have shaped his world. In the 1980s, the forest ecologist became a hero to many conservationists thanks to research that helped lead to a controversial 1994 plan protecting millions of hectares of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest from logging.

But one morning this past summer, Franklin stood on a dirt road in southwest Oregon gazing at a logged hillside that was the antithesis of a lush, old-growth forest. The chainsaws had left stumps, piles of tangled limbs, and a smattering of standing trees, along with bushes and grass. “The scene of the crime,” he declared, with a hint of irony.

Today, in the twilight of his life, the 80-year-old scientist has become a champion of this far different landscape, which he sees as vital to supporting a full range of forest species. That change has again thrust Franklin, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, to the center of a debate over the future of the northwest’s forests—including a potential rewrite of that seminal 1990s Northwest Forest Plan. This time, Franklin is drawing the ire of conservationists for promoting forest management techniques—including targeted logging—designed to create more of the scraggly patches of protoforest that ecologists call “early seral” communities.

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Comments

  1. John Lefebvre says:

    Why, after all these years does a forester
    Conclude what every forester knows? Harvest units have always had more bio diversity then shaded stands. Only after the northwest forest plan gutted local economies do we see that the “science” change.

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