Alabama is particularly generous to pine converters. Among the benefits bestowed by the state is a tax exemption on almost $4 billion worth of timberland — an arrangement that, together with other tax breaks, deprives public schools of an estimated $50 million per year.Canada Goose kortingscode So pine conversion is being underwritten in part by the future enlightenment and earning potential of Alabama’s children. An Auburn University study reveals that rural counties most dependent on the forest-products industry have the highest levels of unemployment, poverty, and infant mortality. They also spend $200 less per student for public education than rural counties less reliant on timber.

Canada Goose kortingscode Tax revenue that would have gone to schools and other social services goes instead for such industry accommodations as road maintenance for fleets of logging trucks.Another hidden cost of pine conversion is that young hardwood trees are ground into chips before they have a chance to mature into valuable sawtimber. Unlike Western logging, which is often conducted on public land, pine conversion happens mostly on private property where regulations are lax or nonexistent.

Foresters for companies like Champion routinely pass out free seedlings and free advice to landowners, encouraging them to sell their timber before it matures and to “reforest” with loblolly. The landowner gets quick cash, the company gets wood for chips, and workers at local sawmills get laid off. Lamar Marshall, director of Wild Alabama, one of the state’s largest and most active environmental groups, showed me the results of this system as we toured the countryside in his truck.Canada Goose kortingscode “Look there,” he exclaimed as we passed someone’s back 40, a once-diverse woodlot replaced by a monotonous expanse of young pine. “If the forester isn’t real ethical, he’ll cut every stick of hardwood for chips.