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FEATURE Unhealthy Forests After a 15-year reprieve, East Texas forests are once again open to destructive logging STORY AND PHOTOS BY AMBER NOVAK Driving east on T. F. Boulware Road, inside the boundaries of the Angelina National Forest, the woods differ dramatically depending on where you stop the car. Immediately after entering the National Forest, hundreds of pines of the same species, size, and straight ness stand a regular distance from one another. There is little discrepancy in the view. Like uniform lines on wallpaper, few fallen trees or bended hardwoods interfere with the perfect vertical pattern. Bordering the stand further to the east, however, the natural world is teeming with diversity. A weatherworn tree cavity, slowly being devoured by turkey tail fungi, leans precariously about 30 feet up. Two types of pine, loblolly and short leaf, are present in this stand, all of varying heights and girths. Southern red oak and sweet gum grow between the pines. Some areas of view are dense with crowded tree trunks, others open enough for the light to fall on the understory of shrubs and small hardwoods. A third of the Texas National Forests looks like what they were planted to betree farms. Boulware Road is a good vantage point to see both a wilderness area and stands of wood that closely resemble pine tree plantations. The wilderness area, called Upland Isle, is managed for wildlife. The symmetric stands of trees west of it have been managed for timber production. In the story of commercial logging on East Texas public lands, the view from Boulware Road may be the only straightforward one around. The battle over which of these two tracts off of Boulware Road constitute a healthy forest has only just begun. Environmentalists are concerned that new policy changes in forest management, courtesy of the Bush Administration and the federal courts, are about to open Texas National Forests to massive logging not seen in more than a decade. Wildfire 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 12/5/03