Salvaging Our Old-Growth Forests
It’s been so long since I’ve been there I can’t clearly remember what it’s like. I can only
look at the pictures in my family photo album. I found the pictures of me when I was a
little girl standing in front of a towering tree with what seems like endless miles and miles
of forest in the background. My mom is standing on one side of me holding my hand, and
my older brother is standing on the other side of me, making a strange face. The faded
pictures don’t do justice to the real-life magnificence of their forest in which they were
taken—the Olympic National Forest—but they capture the awe my parents felt when they
took their children to the ancient forest.
Today these forests are threatened by the timber companies that want state and federal
governments to open protected old-growth forests to commercial logging.
The timber industry’s lobbying attempts must be rejected because the logging of old
growth forests is unnecessary, because it will destroy a delicate and valuable ecosystem,
and because these rare forests areca sacred trust.
Comment [C1]: STEP 1) Introduction: The introduction here leads with the heart (pathos), to engage the reader. And the description is simple and directly related to the issue. If we read between the lines here, we can also tell which side of the issue this writer will be on.
Comment [C2]: STEP 2) Issue Statement: Just having a topic is not enough. You must narrow your essay down to a specific proposal being argued by two parties. An issue statement has two main parts: 1) a legitimate group (timber companies); and 2) the group’s proposal (wants state and federal government to open old-growth forests to commercial logging).
Comment [C3]: Step 3) Two-Part Thesis: Your thesis for this assignment will have two parts: an assertion and a forecast.
The assertion clearly and simply states your position (don’t get carried away here.) The forecast lays out your three lines of argument. Like the example, I want you to use the word because to signal each of your arguments. Also, just as in the example, I want you to use “key terms” to describe your argument
(Transition) Those who promote logging of old-growth forests offer several reasons, but
when closely examined, none is substantial. First, forest industry spokesmen tell us the
forest will regenerate after logging is finished. This argument is flawed. In reality, the
logging industry clear-cuts forests on a 50-80 year cycle, so that the ecosystem being
destroyed—one built up over more than 250 years—will never be replaced. At most, the
replanted trees will reach only one-third the age of the original trees. Because the same
ecosystem cannot rebuild if the trees do not develop full maturity, the plants and animals
that depend on the complex ecosystem—with its incredibly tall canopies and trees of all
sizes and ages—cannot survive. The forest industry brags about replaceable trees but
doesn’t mention a thing about the irreplaceable ecosystems. (Wrap of paragraph.)
(Paragraph transition) Another argument used by the timber industry, as forestry engineer
D. Alan Rockwood has said in a personal correspondence, is that “an old-growth forest is
basically a forest in decline….the biomass is decomposing at a higher rate than tree
growth.” According to Rockwood, preserving old-growth forests is “wasting a resource”
since the land should be used to grow trees rather than let the old ones slowly rot away,
especially when harvesting the trees before they rot would provide valuable lumber. But
the timber industry looks only at the trees, not at the incredibly diverse bio-system which
the ancient trees create and nourish. The mixture of young and old-growth trees creates a
unique habitat that logging would destroy. (Wrap of paragraph)
Comment [C4]: Transition words and sentences lead the reader through the ideas.
Comment [C5]: Opponent’s claim.
Comment [C6]: Student’s refute.
Comment [C7]: Step 4) Refutations: In a Classical Argument Essay you must refute opposing arguments. This student refuted three opposing arguments. Limit yours to two. Do not get carried away refuting your opponent. Most of your essay should be devoted to your three arguments. Note that paragraphs in a strict argument essay like this are logically structured in three basic parts. 1) Topic sentence simply makes opposing argument claim. 2) Body: first part of the paragraph elaborates the opposing argument then student attempts to discredit the argument in the second part of the paragraph. 3) Student then “wraps” her point back to her thesis. It is a simple cycle. Notice the use of transition words and phrases that orient the reader into the ideas.
Comment [C8]: When we introduce a source the first time we create a source package to establish: source credibility:(forestry engineer) source name (D. Alan Rockwood), source (personal correspondence) cited material “an old-growth forest…etc.”
Comment [C9]: Opponent’s claim.
Comment [C10]: Student’s refute.
(Paragraph transition) Perhaps the main argument used by the logging industry is
economic. Using the plight of loggers to their own advantage, the industry claims that
logging old-growth forests will provide jobs. They make all of us feel sorry for the loggers
by giving us an image of a hardworking man put out of work and unable to support hjs
family. They make is imagine the sad eyes of the logger’s children. We think, “How’s he
going to pay the electricity bill? How’s he going to pay the mortgage? Will his family
become homeless?” We all see these images in our minds and want to give the logger his
job so his family won’t suffer. But in reality giving him his job back is only temporary
solution to a long-term problem. Logging in the old-growth forest couldn’t possibly give
the logger his job for long. For example, according to Peter Morrison of the Wilderness
Society, all the old-growth forests in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest would be gone in
three years if it were opened to logging (vi). What will the loggers do then? Loggers need
to worry about finding new jobs now and not wait until there are no old-growth trees
left. (Wrap of paragraph.)
5) Author’s Arguments:
Argument 1) Notice the “keywords” and the “wrap.”
Comment [C11]: Here we see a very clear no-nonsense leading sentence. This sentence re-establishes the “group” (logging industry) and introduces the general point to be developed (economic).
Comment [C12]: Student describes the logging industry’s argument about jobs. Note that, like the student author in the introduction, the logging interests now also uses a “pathetic” argument to appeal to the reader’s emotions.
Comment [C13]: Here the student offers her rebuttal. Notice that in these refutations, the first part of the paragraph develops the opponent’s argument and the second half develops the refute.
Comment [C14]: Wrap sentence to make the point to the reader.
(Transition onto writer’s arguments) Having looked at the views of those who favor
logging of old-growth forests, let’s turn to the arguments for preserving all old growth.
Three main reasons can be cited. First, it is simply unnecessary to log these forests to
supply the world’s lumber. According to environmentalist Mark Sagoff, we have plenty of
new-growth forest from which timber can be taken (89-90). Recently, there have been
major reforestation efforts all over the United States, and it is common practice now for
loggers to replant every tree that is harvested. These new-growth forests, combined with
extensive planting of tree farms, provide more than enough wood for the world’s
needs. According to forestry expert Robert Sedjo (qtd. in Sagoff 90), tree farms alone can
supply the world’s demand for industrial lumber. Although tree farms are ugly and possess
little diversity in their ecology, expanding tree farms is far preferable to destroying old-
growth forests. (wrap)
(paragraph transition) Moreover, we can reduce the demand for lumber. Recycling, for
example, can cut down on the use of trees for paper products. Another way to reduce the
amount of trees used for paper is with a promising new innovation, kenaf, a fast growing,
15-foot-tall, annual herb that is native to Africa. According to Jack Page in Plant Earth,
Forest, kenaf has long been used to make rope, and it has been found to work just as well
for paper pulp (158).
Comment [C15]: Nice transition sentence to lead the reader through the text.
Comment [C16]: Notice the student stays consistent with key terms from the thesis forecast: unnecessary.
Comment [C17]: Source signaling: environmentalist/Mark Sagoff.
Comment [C18]: Page number in text where Sagoff’s opinion can be found.
Comment [C19]: Source signaling: forestry expert/Robert Sedjo
Comment [C20]: Good wrap.
Comment [C21]: Step 5: Your Arguments. In “closed-form” writing, a paragraph is a simple logical construct. Make a claim Support claim with one, or any combinations of the three formal forms of support: example, testimony, or facts/data. Conclude the paragraph with a sentence that “wraps” up that paragraph’s point in support of your thesis.
(paragraph transition) Another reason to protect old growth forests is the value of its
complex and very delicate ecosystem. The threat of logging to the northern spotted owl is
well known. Although loggers say “people before owls,” ecologists consider the owls to be
warnings, like canaries in mine shafts that signal the health of the whole ecosystem.
Evidence provided by the World Resource Institute shows that continuing logging will
endanger other species. a Also, Dr. David Brubaker, an environmentalist biologist at
Seattle University, has said in a personal interview that the long-term effects of logging
will be severe. Loss of the spotted owl, for example, may affect the small rodent
population, which at the moment is kept in check by the predator owl. Dr. Brubaker also
explained that the old-growth forests also connect to salmon runs. When dead timber falls
into the streams, it creates a habitat conducive to spawning. If the dead logs are removed,
the habitat is destroyed. These are only two examples in a long list of animals that would
be harmed by logging of old-growth forests. (wrap)
(paragraph transition) Finally, it is wrong to log in old-growth forests because of their
sacred beauty. When you walk in an old-growth forest, you are touched by a feeling that
ordinary forests can’t evoke. As you look up to the sky, all you see branch after branch in a
canopy of towering trees. Each of these amazingly tall trees feels inhabited by a spirit; it
has its own personality. “For spiritual bliss take a few moments and sit quietly in the Grove
of the patriarchs near Mount Rainier or the redwood forests of Northern California,” said
Richard Linder, environmental activist and member of the National Wildlife Federation.
Comment [C22]: Transition words orient reader into the text.
Comment [C23]: Key term from thesis forecast orients reader into the claim: delicate ecosystem.
Comment [C24]: C7-C10 represent a typical source “package.”
Comment [C25]: Attribute author
Comment [C26]: Establish author’s credibility.
Comment [C27]: Indicate source
Comment [C28]: Present source material.
Comment [C29]: Here we see a good “wrap.” Notice the key term repeated: old growth forests.
Comment [C30]: Key term from thesis forecast; sacred beauty.
“Sit silently,” he said, “and look at the giant living organisms you’re surrounded by; you
can feel the history of your own species.” Although Linder is obviously biased in favor of
preserving the forests, the spiritual awe he feels for ancient trees is shared by millions of
other people who recognize that we destroy something of the world’s spirit when we
destroy ancient trees, or great whales, or native runs of salmon. According to Al Gore, “We
have become so successful at controlling nature that we have lost our connection to it”
(qtd. in Sagoff 96). We need to find that connection again, and one place we can find it is
in the old-growth forests. (wrap)
The old-growth forests are part of the web of life. If we cut this delicate strand of the web,
we may end up destroying the whole. Once the old trees are gone, they are gone forever.
Even if foresters replanted every tree and waited 250 years for the trees to grow to ancient
size, the genetic pool would be lost. We’d have a 250-year old tree farm, not an old-growth
forest. If we want to maintain a healthy earth, we must respect the beauty and sacredness of
the old-growth forests. (wrap)
Brubaker, David. Personal interview. 25 Sept. 1998.
Linder, Richard. Personal interview. 12 Sept. 1998.
Morrison, Peter. Old Growth in the Pacific Northwest: A Status Report. Alexandria: Global
Page, Jack. Planet Earth, Forest. Alexandria: Time-Life, 1983.
Rockwood, D. Alan. E-mail to the author. 24 Sept. 1998.
Sagoff, Mark. “Do We Consume Too Much?” Atlantic Monthly June 1997: 80-96.
World Resource Institute. “Old Growth Forests in the United States Pacific Northwest.” 13 Sept.
Comment [C31]: MLA Works Cited on separate page