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A CUTTING ISSUE
It's estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 loggers could lose their jobs over the next decade as a result of last Friday's decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare the spotted owl—of which only 3,000 pairs remain—a threatened species. The decision makes it illegal to destroy the owl's natural habitat, which comprises as much as four million acres of forest in the Pacific Northwest.
Because of the potentially devastating job loss and the need to safeguard both a rare species and the nation's last stands of ancient cedars, firs, redwoods, spruces and hemlocks, this has been one of the most emotional battles conservationists have ever fought. Yet, while the lumbermen will continue to mount opposition to last week's ruling, the government's action may ultimately force them to adopt a new and more environmentally sensitive approach to logging.
The most promising approach is called New Forestry, a method of logging developed in two decades of study by the U.S. Forest Service. Whereas a typical clear-cut logging operation denudes a section of forest, New Forestry would call for a larger tract to be partially worked. Depending on the ecosystem's need for nutrients, shade and other protection, New Foresters would allow 20% to 70% of living trees to remain standing, and leave logs and other natural debris on the forest floor. Forest Service scientists call these remnants "biological legacies" similar to those left by a forest fire. They say these legacies encourage the revitalization of a forest.
New Forestry yields fewer board-feet per acre, which upsets the timber industry, and still involves the cutting of trees, which riles preservationists. But the Bush Administration has expressed interest in the method, and Representative Jolene Unsoeld (D., Wash.) has already drafted a bill that mandates New Forestry experiments in three areas inhabited by owls to see if the birds can live with the compromise approach. Given how much is at stake, it's certainly an experiment worth trying.
Some faces are red in the University of Miami athletic department because of the connection between the Hurricane football team and the controversial Miami rap group 2 Live Crew, whose latest album, As Nasty As They Wanna Be, was ruled obscene last month by a federal judge in Florida because of its lyrics. Members of the group, especially its leader, Luther Campbell, are friends of many current and former Miami players—ex-Hurricanes Melvin Bratton and Tolbert Bain sang backup on one of the group's albums a couple of years ago—and the football team is thanked (without explanation) on the cover of As Nasty As They Wanna Be. In their video for the song Me So Horny, group members wear green Hurricane jackets.
Miami has been working for several years to clean up its football team's trash-talking image, and it's safe to assume that the university would just as soon not be associated with the group. Athletic director Sam Jankovich says that when practice opens in August, he'll discuss the subject with Hurricane players in, well, sort of a rap session.
SPOKESMEN FOR THE LAW