Clear-Cut Views

To understand the full impact of logging, you need to rise above it all.
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To understand the full impact of logging, you need to rise above it all.

To get the full impact of logging, you need to rise above it all.

The next time you're in the Northwest and the buzz of an airplane disturbs your backcountry solitude, a salute—not of the one-fingered variety—may be in order. That plane could be helping to save your backwoods stomping grounds from the chainsaws.

Private pilots, mostly from the Northwest, are volunteering their time, fuel, and planes to fly industry and Canadian government policymakers over Vancouver Island, a forested jewel off the British Columbia coast. From the air, it's easy to see the dramatic contrast between the near-pristine forests logged under a sustainable-growth program and those that have been devastated by clearcutting.

Passengers are shocked to see that decisions made from behind desks can wreak such environmental havoc, says Edward May of Friends of Clayoquot Sound, the flyover organizer. "A CEO from a paper manufacturer might stop buying old-growth products as a result. Most visitors support environmentally sound policies down the road. This is more about a paradigm shift," he says.