oVo wrote:Putting the land back as it was is a big problem. Once a mountain has been topped or an open pit mine has been dug, the land will never regain it's former beauty. Likewise an "old growth" forest is not something that can be easily restored and it's difficult for anyone to justify clear cutting as responsible use. Particularly when their destruction is driven by greed and instant financial gratification with no regard for the environment once the resource is extracted and spent.
I am in no way disagreeing with this. As I say above, the Allegheny is different when it comes to logging, but not other impacts.
Per the mountain top removal... I still say that your friend donated the land without really paying attention to what would happen. The Forest Service is about logging, primarily. (yes, its multiple use... but trying to stay simple here). I realize that just logged land looks pretty bad. However, if you look beneath all those slash piles and so forth, you should either see young seedlings regenerating or you will see seedlings being planted. It is not going to go back to old growth, but it will become a new forest, just like a plowed field.
Just like with plowing a lot depends on the techniques used. You mention the Dust Bowl before. That won't happen again because farming practices now differ... (we are backsliding some thanks to industrial farming, but that is another story). There are absolutely bad logging practices and good ones. I don't know, without seeing the land, if that pieces was done well or not. However, I would say that if it was truly Forest Service land than there are now so many regulations and controls that it is unlikely to have been done very poorly. Whether it was an excellent job or just a decent one is another story .
oVo wrote:A similar abuse was the plowing up of the prairies after WWI that created the Dust Bowl. A decade of huge paydays finally went bust. In Texas alone there exists less than one tenth of one percent of the native prairies, which were once --along with the migrating herds of buffalo-- an entire ecosystem of their own.
The difference between commercial plants and native prairies was part of the problem, but so were poor plowing practices, ignorance of landform impacts, etc.
At any rate, the Department of Soil conservation and a couple other agencies came in and taught farmers new techniques. The Dust Bowl will not be repeated, in part because the Federal government supported education, research and mandated certain management practices. They did this on private land, because it was necessary. The ethos of the time meant that a lot of this happened through education, but mandates were put in place as well. Today, there is such a huge movement to just plain deny scientific results of impacts or folks who basically say “I could care less about other people’s harm… my right to make money is more important”.
oVo wrote:The EPA and other federal agencies have made some progress in the areas of responsible land use post WWII. Except these organizations can't keep up with the demands of monitoring the vast industrial complex that harvests, manufactures, distributes, pollutes and employs new technology all across North America.
Yes, though according to the right wing, the “problem” is too much “government interference”, not too little.
oVo wrote: Fracking is just one more industry with many unanswered questions about the process and results. Billions of dollars have been spent to promote a positive identity and reassure citizens who have doubts about it's effect on the environment.
Billions of dollars on an industry that has really only been around for about 5 years, research largely conducted by the very industry wanting to promote itself, at the very time when so much government funding and research is being cut and ignored.
One problem is that while shallow fracking has been around for decades, what we see now is a new, very, very different technology. The impact of ordinary fracking is pretty well understand. DEEP fracking is the technology associated with things like Earth quakes in Ohio and methane leaking into people’s water systems. The companies, of course, deny many of these impacts, but the truth is they are asking us to just go on faith, not facts.
Local doctors have begun compiling some data just to correlate medical problems with rises in various illnesses. But not only does it take time to compile that data, many are getting direct and indirect pressure to not reach any “bad conclusions” – any conclusions that might harm the industry.