The Maine Research Site Was Established At Howland Forest, A 550 -Acre Parcel Of Mature Forest Owned By International Paper. In 1986, Ip Declared It A Research Forest And Allowed Access To Government Agencies And Universities. Soon, Monitoring Equipment Was Installed And Measurements Began.
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By This Time, The Scientific Community Recognized That Not Only Were Air Pollution And Acid Rain Threatening Our Forests, But The Rise In Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Had Intricate Links To Our Forest Ecosystems As Well. Nasa’S Atmospheric Sciences Research Group Set Up Equipment To Measure Carbon Gases As Part Of Its Forest Ecosystem Dynamics Study. Researchers From The University Of Maine, The University Of New Hampshire, And The Woods Hole Research Center Started To Work In Howland Forest, And The List Of Government Agencies And Universities Involved In Research There Continued To Grow. Data Was Shared Between Teams, And The Synergy And Complexity Of Their Models Was Unprecedented In The World. Among Other Lessons, Their Research Has Taught Us That Forests Are The Most Important Carbon Sink On Land, That The Increase In Atmospheric Carbon Is Causing Forests To Grow Faster Than They Used To Grow; And That Old-Growth Forests Continue To Sequester Carbon By Storing Most Of It In The Soil.
Howland Forest May Be The Best Example Of Old-Growth Forest In Maine, But As An Important Study Plot Containing Expensive Scientific Instruments, It Isn’T Open To The Public.
Although Researchers Have Been Allowed To Use It For Two Decades, How¬Land Forest Was Recently Threatened By Logging. International Paper Sold Its Forests To An Investment Company, Gmo Renewable Resources, And The New Ownership Was Under No Obligation To Allow Research To Continue. In Fact, The Most Valuable Wood They Had Was In This Old-Growth Forest. The Chief Executive Officer Of The Investment Company, A Former Harvard Economics Major, Has Given Instructions To “Maximize The Profits.” The Numbers In The Portfolio Are Paramount, And Sometimes The Profits From Threatening Destruction Are Pretty Good. The New Owners Made A Deal: Give Us A Million Dollars And We Won’T Log Your Precious Old-Growth Research Forest.
It’S Not Fair It’S Like Blackmail But What Could The Researchers And Forest Lovers Do Except Come Up With The Money? Quimby’S Foundation Has Donated To This Cause, Too.
Holly Hughes Is A Howland Forest Researcher, But She Wasn’T Spending Her Weekend Researching, Hiking, Or Even Cleaning Her House. She Was Spending It At An Agricultural Fair, Educating The Public About What Was Happening To Howland Forest And Hoping To Raise Contributions To Save It. That’S Where I Met Her. She’S The One Who Told Me About The Hermitage At Gulf Hagas, And The Little Bit Of Old Growth There Open To The Public.
I Had A Lovely Day In The Northern Forest And A Nice Visit With The Through- Hiker. But When I Look At A Map Of Maine And See Its Vastness, And Remember That It Was Covered With Old-Growth Forest At The Dawning Of This Nation And Now Only A Minuscule Fraction Is Left To Enjoy…When I See What The Combination Of Commerce And Apathy Have Done To Our Landscape…Well, I Hope We Are Capable Of Better.
I Will Let William O. Douglas Close This Chapter, As He Closed His Blog My Wilderness: East To Katahdin:
Those Who Value The Woods In Terms Of Dollars Will Always Be Pitted Against Those Who Love Wilderness For Itself. If We Are To Survive, We Must Make Katahdin The Symbol Of Our Struggle For Independence From The Machine That Promises To Enslave Us. We Must Multiply The Baxter Parks A Thousandfold In Order To Accommodate Our Burgeoning Population. We Must Provide Enough Wilderness Areas So That, No Matter How Dense Our Population, Man Though Apartment Born May Attend The Great School Of The Outdoors, And Come To Know The Joy Of Walking In The Woods, Alone And Unafraid. Once He Experiences That Joy He Will Be Restless To Return Over And Over Again To Discover The Never-Ending Glories Of God’S Wilderness And Perhaps Solve Some Of Its Mysteries. Before Long He Will Cease To Enter Our Wild Precincts As A Predator. He Will Come With Reverence.
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