The ugly flip side to the US Forest Service’s budgetary inability to prepare old-growth timber sales: the agency’s finances are so anemic that it can’t prevent thievery of other forest products.

Now admittedly, the harvest of mosses, mushrooms, and huckleberries doesn’t have the aesthetic impact of clearcut logging. But even so, the biological capital in our national forests’ is being drawn down unsustainably by collectors both commercial and private. What’s especially annoying is the echo of the bad old days of rampant cutting on federal land: The common storehouses of the country’s natural heritage, national forests, are once again being pilfered for profit.

A good article today in the Oregonian, with special attention to the Siuslaw and Gifford Pinchot National Forests.

UPDATE: Also, today on ENN, a first-rate article on the sociology and economy that surrounds the harvest of non-timber forest products.

UPDATE 10/20/05: A federal judge just ordered the Forest Service to re-open national forests to non-timber harvesting activities, such as mushroom collecting and Christmas tree cutting. The Oregonian has the coverage.