A new book by Jim Birkemeier Copyright 2015 by Spring Green Timber Growers, LLC
Forestry Insider calls on the Forestry Profession to Return to its Ethics
Jim Birkemeier – a professional forester with 4 decades of experience in all aspects of the global timber industry and forestry profession – is blowing the whistle in his new book – Phony Phorestry. As an insider Birkemeier confronts what has become business as usual - as unacceptable and in need of major immediate changes. Conflicts of Interest and ongoing corruption have become normal in this secretive business, he writes.
Wisconsin may well be the worst State and the focus of his criticisms, but the problems are quite global in nature in today’s timber industry.
First and foremost Birkemeier blasts the system where government foresters retire, then go into business as “consulting foresters” – using their insider information and former position to take personal advantage of landowners and their forests. The worst timber rip offs and forest rapes he has seen were planned and administered by retired DNR foresters. Current leadership ignores the complaints and covers up the practice, protecting the corrupt system for their own time of retirement.
Any consulting forester who is paid on commission for marking and selling timber for landowners has a blatant conflict of interest.
A forester who works as a Timber Buyer also has conflicts of interest that ignore the Ethics a forester must follow.
Foresters tell landowners that only a professional forester can manage timber – a college degree is required! No dairy farmer, corn farmer, wheat farmer would put up with that!
Foresters legitimize and support industrial logging and call it sustainable forestry – even certified
Foresters ignore the ongoing illegal logging and fraudulent timber buying that continues to degrade our remaining natural forests.
Foresters tell landowners that the low market price for timber is acceptable and is sustainable.
Foresters force landowners to accept that industrial logging is the only choice and block any and all alternatives.
Foresters participate in the exporting of our best logs and lumber right now for short term greed - also exporting our jobs.
Foresters allow and accept and participate in the ongoing destruction of our forests by industry around the world.
Foresters protect their own jobs and salary at the expense of the landowner and the forest and local community and the taxpayers.
(Google Society of American Foresters Code of Ethics for the details on what we say we do)
Update - November 19, 2015 - The New Logjam that Forest Owners Face Today
Forest owners face a new quagmire in the timber industry today, that makes things worse than ever before, to every landowner with trees today.
Retired Wisconsin DNR Foresters go into business as “consulting foresters” and now use their insider information to take advantage of the entire timber marketing system for their personal greed. The forest owners and the forest resource and the taxpayers are the big losers.
Starting about 25 years ago, the “county forester” we all know and love – actually a DNR employee - began the now popular trend of taking early retirement, escaping the poorly run and frustrating government forestry programs. Now receiving their pension and benefits, they use their nice guy trusted public servant personality and their insider information, to fleece the innocent and ignorant forest owners and the timber resource they formerly served as trusted government workers.
This practice has become so widespread today that it has changed the whole face of the timber industry in Wisconsin.
Using the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law, all embellished in the words and talk of Sustainable and Sound Forestry, foresters of all kinds entice landowners into property tax breaks only to lead them into forced timber harvests at market prices way below the costs of owning and growing timber crops. Professional foresters now have perfected the system to convince landowners to agree to subsidize the greedy global industrial timber industry at their own expense while supposedly feeling good about it.
Most “consulting foresters” are paid on a 10% commission for marking timber and soliciting bids for a landowner. This is a blatant conflict of interest that absolutely violates a professional forester’s ethics and training. For the forestry profession to accept and protect such an extreme conflict of interest today demands immediate attention, full exposure, and reform.
Independent consulting foresters are now required to take DNR training and follow DNR rules to qualify to participate in the Managed Forest Law programs and other government funding systems. You have to play their games and follow their rules or be blocked out of the ‘gravy train’ of government funding.
Over the years I have blown the whistle to try to attract attention to this ongoing fraud. All attempts to expose the scandals have been covered up by the leadership of the DNR, to protect their buddies and their own hopes of cashing in on this forestry feeding frenzy when it is time for them to retire also.
This is all grown to the point where the timber market is flooded with timber sales prepared by consulting foresters. Sawmills and timber companies no longer need to employ a team of timber buyers to go out to contact landowners to find wood to harvest – they just have to open their mail and choose from the multitude of timber sales now on the market through the consulting foresters.
Forester after DNR forester I used to work with when I was younger have now retired and used their insider information, influence, nice guy reputation, to cash in on the easy money marking timber and soliciting bids for landowners. Recent retirees have spent their last decade or two planning for this time in their careers. They have written management plans for landowners and laid the groundwork for scheduling the mandatory and “sustainable” harvests for their friendly and trusting landowners for their scheduled time of early retirement. Everything is masked in the idea that it is good and responsible and even mandatory that the forest owners now harvest their timber at prices that average about 10 percent of the costs of owning and managing timber crops. In these operations the retired DNR foresters collect huge commission checks while still getting their pensions and benefits from the State.
These foresters use the fear of bad logging to get landowners to pay them for protection, but when the harvest starts, the landowner find they have been ‘thrown to the wolves’ and no one cares anywhere.
This is totally unfair competition to the self-employed consulting forestry companies who also offer the same services to landowners. But these guys and gals have to bow to the DNR to survive in the market.
Old guys who retire, become expert consultants, get new income streams while collecting their pension and benefits from the State also continue the same old traditional disastrous stream of industrial logging that is killing our local economy and block any new ideas from our young people who might hope of bringing about good positive change for the future. This is likely the most important factor in all this – retired government workers who become consultants continue the big corporation dominance of the markets that export our money and jobs for the greed of a few distant people who take advantage of the people and resources of the planet. Influence peddling in the forest goes on unseen today.
The forest management and timber harvesting system are becoming more inbred, self -controlled, one sided, greedy, secretive, protective, and shameful. Landowners are more dominated, held in the dark, degraded, controlled, and gain less and less in the industrial global forestry system. Things are getting worse and worse by the day.
There is an alternative to all this. Promoting the use of locally grown and manufactured forest products would change all of this right away. It would rebuild our local economies and provide hundreds of thousands of good rewarding jobs, while directly reducing the demand to clear cut the remaining tropical rainforests and stop the illegal logging of the remnants of natural forest reserves.
Grown and Made in Wisconsin, Grown and Made in The USA Should be the focus of government forestry services, not just taking their share of the exporting of our best timber to foreign corporations.
There is plenty of value to finished wood products to support the local community, if the wood is processed here, not on the other side of the planet by the cheapest labor working in the worst conditions with no regard to protection of the environment.
Foresters and Educators must tell the whole picture of growing, manufacturing, shipping, and using wood products so consumers can really decide what products are best to buy.
Just what I see
Jim Birkemeier – forest owner
Birkemeier is a forest owner, skilled logger, sawmill owner, and woodworker. He does not criticize loggers or sawmills as long as they are honest about their actions. He objects strongly when short term greed and taking of timber is called sound forestry, sustainable forestry, or certified forestry.
Birkemeier has developed an alternative timber market system, promoting using locally grown and manufactured forest products. He teaches other landowners common sense forest management that can quadruple the annual growth of a forest – compared to industrial logging. His other books, Full Vigor Forestry, Full Value Forestry, Good Local Wood, and Solar Cycle Lumber Dry Kilns tell the complete story of small business using local trees to support the community and create good jobs.
To Purchase a copy of Phony Phorestry - click below -$16.00 per copy
Or you can mail a check for $16.00 plus $6.00/ shipping per copy (Wisconsin Residents please add .88 cents sales tax) to:
Phony Phorestry - by Jim Birkemeier
Spring Green Timber Growers
PO Box 176
Retail Store at 245 S. Winsted St (Hwy 23) has copies also if you want to stop in.
Spring Green, WI 53588
Addendum - more on the subject
Buying timber used to be a job.
Then it became a sport – who could screw them the best or worst, so they wouldn’t even talk about it.
Now the timber harvest jobs just come in the mail every day.
The State of Wisconsin has recently perfected the practice of feeding the big timber industry for the ‘good of society.’ Retired DNR foresters go into business today as “consulting foresters” to help landowners manage and sell their trees as “Sustainable Forestry” in the Mandatory Harvests of the Wisconsin Managed Forest Law. They use their insider information and good guy reputation and former State Forester’s Badge to fleece the innocent landowners for their own greed. A “smart” DNR forester now plans his retirement for a decade or more, by writing and approving management plans to schedule harvests to carefully cash in on the cushy 10% commission for mandatory timber sales for the best forest resources of the landowners in the county, for his personal greed. They likely feel entitled to get in on the ‘gravy train’ of foresters getting big commission checks for administering timber sales for landowners they just watched roll on by for their years as a public servant. With their insider information and influence, their double dipping can now be multiplied over and over since no authorities care about trees or forests or landowners rights. Any reported scandal is ignored or covered up by State Foresters to protect their cronies and insure the system is working well when they retire.
Forest owners agree to enter the Managed Forest Law under the guise that it is Sustainable and Sound Forestry. The forestry profession suckers the landowners into selling their timber for about 10% of the cost of growing and managing timber crops, to feed the big fish of the timber industry while the foresters collect a professional salary with benefits. Sustainable Forestry is whatever the forester thinks will sustain their own salary.
Foresters accept illegal logging, clear cutting of the rain forest, fraud and conflicts of interest of all kinds as long as their personal salary is sustained. And this is among the most “Ethical” professions of all.