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As a child, I fondly remember planting trees in my backyard with my dad. We would plant more every year, filling up acres of our property with our own trees. I always knew how important those trees were to my dad, and also the environment. I understood preserving them as much as possible was serving a purpose for my family, the surrounding animals, and as I grew up, I learned it was important for clean air as well. These trees took care of us, and I value their impact on combating climate change.
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President Biden’s executive order on April 22nd, 2022, stressed the importance of conserving mature and old-growth forests for climate and biodiversity. However, not everyone values this executive order, including the United States Forest Service. Right after the 2020 election, the Trump USFS has approved a logging project in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest called Fourmile which targets acres of mature and old-growth forest. Given climate change effects are at an all-time high, we cannot keep cutting down old-growth and mature trees that take away so much carbon for us.
If the USFS truly respected our democracy, they would heed Biden’s executive order and the law. They would consider reevaluating the project to respect our democratic wishes. Not only is this issue personal to me, but being part of a younger generation and knowing climate change will impact my life exasperates my fear that the USFS has not gotten serious about climate change and values timber sales over anything else.
When I think of how disheartened I would feel if my family’s trees were cut down, I can only imagine the impact logging a national forest would have on families that don’t have the luxury of trees in their backyard and instead hike the CNNF yearly. Children and the younger generation overall already experience the greatest anxiety and depression of environmental impacts. My generation does not need to hear about any more devastating logging projects and needs to hear some positive environmental news. The reevaluation of Fourmile could be one of the first for the state of Wisconsin.
The Fourmile project plans to log some of the remaining old-growth and mature trees in the CNNF to further help the pulpwood industry. Our state does not have a pulpwood deficiency issue, but it does have a climate change emergency. With the paper industry already on the decline due to increasing technology alternatives use, there is no need to keep up with logging projects for pulpwood.
Though the younger generation like me has been deeply affected by the current state of our climate, there is still hope that Fourmile can be reevaluated to disregard Trump’s previous orders and be updated by Biden’s. It’s essential the Forest Service listens to the president we voted for, as I am sure Tammy Baldwin would support this as well. If Fourmile is reevaluated through alternative management methods, our states can look at Wisconsin as a model and we can truly make a difference.
Amanda Puccini is a senior studying political science with certificates in environmental studies and criminal justice. Puccini is an intern at the Environmental Law and Policy Center and is passionate about pausing the logging project in CNNF in Wisconsin.