The Toxic Trail
Forestry Practices: Growing Trees For Poles
Resource ExtractionWood poles are made from several different species of conifers. Plantation grown Southern Yellow Pine predominates in the eastern U.S., plantation grown Red Pine in eastern Canada and northeastern U.S., and Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir in western North America.
Ecological impactForestry has grown into a multimillion dollar industry, but at what cost to the environment? Pesticides are commonly used in forestry to prevent broadleaved weeds, grasses, and hardwood shrubs from overtaking the profitable lumber trees. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) assessed the risk of 16 pesticides proposed for use in the Pacific Northwest. Fourteen of the 16 were missing cancer information which could "significantly [the] change assessment," and only one had reproductive or neurological data that was not considered "inadequate information for evaluating toxicity." USDA states, "The (16) herbicides may cause lower level immediate effects, such as nausea, dizziness, or reversible neuropathy. Longer term effects might include permanent nervous system damage; effects on reproductive success; damage to the liver, kidneys, or other organs; damage to the function of the immune system; and cancer."2
In the Pacific Northwest, the following 13 pesticides have been approved for use in vegetation management in the 1988 Final Environmental Impact Statement: asulam, atrazine, bromacil, dalapon, dicamba, glyphosate, hexazinone, imazapyr, picloram, simazine, tebuthiuron, triclopyr, and 2,4-D.3 In the Southeast, the Coastal/Piedmont Region's Final Environmental Impact Statement recommended the use of dicamba, fosamine, glyphosate, hexazinone, imazapyr, picloram, sulfometuron methyl, tebuthiuron, and 2,4-D.4