Deadhead logging is the process of dragging sunken logs, largely pine and cypress, from the bottom of lakes and rivers where they have been preserved for up to 120 years after falling there during the logging process. The wood from deadhead logs is generally of higher quality than that of currently harvested trees: "The wood is stronger, prettier, the grain will run forever," Sam Ard of the River Bend Lumber Company says. Apparently all the best trees were cut down starting in the 1880s. The St. Petersburg Times says "A single log can fetch as much as $3,000."

Deadhead logging had been banned in Florida off and on since 1974, approved in 1998 by Governor Lawton Chiles, banned in late 1999 by Governor Jeb Bush and then reapproved in April 2000 by Bush with some limits and more government watching. Environmentalists such as the Nature Conservancy disapprove of the practice, saying that "to make way for the logs to float down the river, loggers removed most of the natural woody debris from the river. Today, the deadhead logs provide important structure and habitat that was lost when the river was de-snagged." The Florida Sierra Club says environmental problems with deadhead logging "include aquatic habitat impacts in general and to gulf sturgeon and rare mussels in particular, bank destabilization and destruction of cultural resources."

By 'cultural resources,' they are most likely referring to the archeological site at Newnan's Lake, Florida, where a large number of centuries-old canoes were uncovered in 2000 as the lake shrank due to the drought Florida was going through. Deadhead logging operations have crushed a few and damaged more of the canoes during the same time period that they were being brought out and studied -- in fact, the deadhead logging started 10 days after the state government was notified about the canoes' presence.

Due to the Seminole tribe's newspaper and other organizations' efforts to make this situation public, deadhead logging in Florida lakes has been banned again. However, this will be most likely be re-evaluated by the state government as soon as permits are requested by logging companies for other lakes.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.