Modeling: worst-case scenarios

OSU professor Beverly Law and her researchers have published another paper on a topic we’ve discussed before, such as here — that it would be better, carbon-wise, to preserve forests rather than harvest timber. This new paper builds on that theme

Carbon sequestration and biodiversity co-benefits of preserving forests in the western USA

Authors: Polly C. Buotte1, Beverly E. Law, William J. Ripple, Logan T. Berner

Abstract and conclusions below. The paper is behind a pay wall.

I noted in the abstract that the authors based their modeling on “two high-carbon emission scenario (RCP 8.5) climate models.” RCP 8.5 was the subject of a recent article in Forbes by Roger Pilke Jr., “It’s Time To Get Real About The Extreme Scenario Used To Generate Climate Porn,” in which he says RCP 8.5 is a “worst-case scenario” and that “it may not even be a plausible worst-case scenario, because it requires improbable changes to our global energy policies, such as a wholesale return to coal throughout the 21st century and the abandonment of natural gas and renewables.”

So I hope any discussion here the Buotte/Law article will focus on climate modeling and scenarios, rather than the proposal to preserve much of the west-side forests and reduce harvesting (though that certainly is a topic of interest).

Abstract:

Forest carbon sequestration via forest preservation can be a viable climate change mitigation strategy. Here we identify forests in the western conterminous United States with high potential carbon sequestration and low vulnerability to future drought and fire, as simulated using the Community Land Model and two high-carbon emission scenario (RCP 8.5) climate models. High-productivity, low-vulnerability forests have the potential to sequester up to 5,450 TgCO2 equivalent (1,485 Tg C) by 2099, which is up to 20% of the global mitigation potential previously identified for all temperate and boreal forests, or up to ~6 years of current regional fossil fuel emissions. Additionally, these forests currently have high above- and belowground carbon density, high tree species richness, and a high proportion of critical habitat for endangered vertebrate species, indicating a strong potential to support biodiversity into the future and promote ecosystem resilience to climate change. We stress that some forest lands have low carbon sequestration potential but high biodiversity, underscoring the need to consider multiple criteria when designing a land preservation portfolio. Our work demonstrates how process models and ecological criteria can be used to prioritize landscape preservation for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and preserving biodiversity in a rapidly changing climate.

Conclusions:

If we are to avert our current trajectory towards massive global change, we need to make land stewardship a higher societal priority (Chan et al. 2016). Preserving temperate forests in the western US that have medium to high potential carbon sequestration and low future climate vulnerability could account for approximately eight years of regional fossil fuel emissions, or 27-32% of the global mitigation potential previously identified for temperate and boreal forests, while also promoting ecosystem resilience and the maintenance of biodiversity. Biodiversity metrics also need to be included when selecting preserves to ensure species-rich habitats that result from frequent disturbance regimes are not overlooked. The future impacts of climate change, and related pressures as human population exponentially expands, make it essential to evaluate conservation and management options on multi-decadal timescales, with the shared goals of mitigating committed CO2 emissions, reducing future emissions, and preserving plant and animal diversity to limit ecosystem transformation and permanent losses of species

 

 

The American Prairie Reserve: Private Ownership and Conservation Writ Very, Very Large

 

This NPR story has some of the same themes as other topics we’ve been discussing about private lands conservation. What I like about this story is that it puts a different twist on many of the topics we discuss with regard to US government lands.

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country.

But the reserve is facing fierce opposition from many locals because to build it, the organization is slowly purchasing ranches from willing sellers, phasing out the cows and replacing them with wild bison. Those private properties are then stitched together with vast tracts of neighboring public lands to create one giant, rewilded prairie. The organization has purchased close to 30 properties so far, but it needs at least 50 more….

But the project’s efforts have garnered a lot of positive attention from those living outside northeastern Montana because, once it’s complete, it will be the largest wildlife sanctuary in the Lower 48 states — about 5,000 square miles, nearly the size of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

 

(1) What I missed in this article was an understanding of the concerns of the ranchers.  It’s odd that the article focused on the Bible when more pragmatic answers are likely out there. Here are a few of my guesses for rancher resistance.

  1. reintroduction of critters that eat animals they care for and depend on for their livelihood. (personal economics losses)
  2. losing social capital from their already small community (friends, fellow volunteers, neighbors to borrow or help with things).
  3. losing economic capital from their already small community (taxes, donations, etc.)

I’m quite curious as to what kind of convos are going on in these communities about those concerns.  Conceivably the new owners have a plan for being good neighbors, paying for eaten livestock and so on.  What makes a good wildland neighbor? If it’s important for rich people to be good neighbors, how about Uncle Sam?

(2)  Another interesting aside in the story was bringing up where the owners got the money.

Do college profs get to determine the “appropriate goodness” of other people? And why interview a professor from Stanford about a story in Montana?

Some see hypocrisy in this kind of money, including Rob Reich, director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University.

“The structure of global capitalism, which they had a role upholding, is partly responsible for the degradation of the environment,” Reich says.

If we go back to federal lands, Uncle Sam got it by dispossessing Native Americans.  To circle back to the New Testament, seems like stone-casting (John 8:7) has become a national sport.  I don’t think that that’s a good thing.

I also thought it was interesting that Garrity questioned the idea that producers of resources carry more responsibility than users:

But Gerrity says the reserve can’t afford to be that picky because almost all of his donors, big and small, are driving the climate crisis.

“The person who puts the gas in their car, or uses the coal in their house to heat, or the person who gets on a nonessential jet trip to take a vacation or go to a wedding or something like that, is the person actually creating the business and encouraging the oil companies to keep on doing what they’re doing,” Gerrity says.

(3) The owners buy only from willing sellers, so is this just another western “making a living” transition, along with ski areas, population growth (in some places), gas wells, wind and solar farms,  and so on?

Practice of Science Friday: The Roles of Researchers and Extension-Like Science Experts

The main role for researchers in applied science is to provide papers and other information that people can use.  In my analogy, they produce information to be used by someone- they blow out information and can’t necessarily control where it lands or how, or if it is used.

The main role for what we might call Extension-like activities, Forest Service folks in State and Private (nurseries, pathology and entomology), and experts in the National Forests (from fish and wildlife bios to social scientists)  is to sift through piles of research provided by researchers and use that to advice landowners or others making decisions about forests.  They search out  information and try to make sense of all the different studies and approaches, in light of the needs of the people they work for.  For the lack of a better term, I’ll put them all into one category- SSME’s or science subject matter experts. They vacuum up information from a variety of sources, as opposed to producing it.

Their roles are equally important, and complementary.  You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in psychology to figure out, though, that there might be disagreements and tensions (turf battles) between people in these somewhat overlapping roles. In some federal organizations, it has led to frustration as practitioners sometimes want to find out things, but they are not allowed to do research (based on their funding) and whatever they want to test looks like research to someone, so they are told they can’t do it. Basically they are told that their questions are not important enough to be funded as research, but are too “researchy” for the practitioners to do. Like any other field of activity, overlapping roles works well when people see eye to eye- not so much when they don’t.

Both groups are trained in their field. Many in the SSME world have Ph.D.’s and most have master’s.  Many researchers also, through their own personalities, or with some encouragement from their institutions, also do this kind of extension-like work.  In the past, there has been a tendency for people funded to do research to look down on people doing extension-like activities.  In fact, some folks don’t even seem to know that they exist.

Here’s one story- in the mid 90’s I worked in Forest Service Research and Development and I was one of a team working on improving the linkages between science and management.  Here’s a link to a copy of the report from 1995- “Navigating into the Future: Rensselaerville Roundtable: Integrating Science and Policymaking.”

As hard as I tried – my experience showing that SSME’s were the critical people to getting the best science into management- SSME’s were basically invisible in this document (I did get two paragraphs, titled Technical Specialists, on page 9. It was all about how researchers and decision-makers needed to work together- guidelines  for improving the institutional coordination.   you will understand how perhaps the emphasis on researchers doing SSME work left a gaping hole in acknowledging support for “real” SSME’s.

I don’t know that this is general or my own experience. When I started with the Forest Service in the late 70’s, my expertise was supported to the tune of financial support for a post-doc at North Carolina State.  By the end of my career (when I was Planning Director) I was told that I could not be on government time, nor give a government affiliation in the program, to give a talk at an SAF meeting when the invitation came with travel. I don’t think it was all intentionally against the Forest Services being better at science, there was just a “shouldn’t travel” factor that rose and fell in importance randomly.  Of all the Chiefs, Jack Ward Thomas was the one who really cared about promoting that kind of expertise. I couldn’t find a link to his idea of promoting professionalism by leaving experts in place and able to increase their pay.

Next post: The Land Grant Model and the Key Role of Extension

Lawsuit filed to Restore e-Bikes Ban in National Parks

Steve Wilent posted about the Trump administration allowing motorized electronic e-bikes on nonmotorized trails back in August. Here’s that post and discussion/debate.

Today, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and a coalition of conservation groups and affected individuals filed a lawsuit to restore the ban on e-bikes in National Parks. Here’s the PEER press release:

Washington, DC — The recent National Park Service (NPS) order allowing electric bicycles on park trails violates several federal laws and should be rescinded, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and a coalition of conservation groups and affected individuals. Nearly 25 National Park System units have acted to implement the e-bikes order.

Following a Secretarial Order by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt directing that all Interior Department agencies, including the NPS, immediately allow e-bikes “where other types of bicycles are allowed,” on August 30, 2019, Deputy NPS Director P. Daniel Smith issued a “Policy Memorandum” ordering all park superintendents to now allow e-bikes on trails where the parks currently allow bicycles.

The PEER suit cites several legal impediments to the NPS order, including that it:

• Violated NPS’s own regulations that may not be set aside by administrative fiat;

• Improperly evaded legally-required environmental reviews; and

• Came from an official, Smith, who lacked the authority to issue such an order.

“This e-bikes order illustrates an improper and destructive way to manage our National Parks,” stated PEER Executive Director Tim Whitehouse, a former enforcement attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Concerned groups and individuals are joining PEER in demanding that the Park Service follow the normal regulatory processes and assess the additional impacts that higher speed e-bike riders pose both to other trail users and to wildlife in the parks.”

It also turns out that Bernhardt and Smith’s staffs have been regularly meeting behind closed doors with an industry-dominated advisory committee called the “E-bike Partner & Agency Group” at Interior Headquarters and through teleconferences. E-bike vendors stand to profit from the NPS move. The PEER suit demands a halt to these meetings because they violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires transparency to prevent such clandestine lobbying.

“The impetus from industry is not surprising given that, as a former industry lobbyist himself, Secretary Bernhardt is known for hearing industry concerns and not public concerns,” added Whitehouse, noting that other Bernhardt moves, such as forbidding parks from trying to limit plastic bottle sales, are a form of creeping commercialization affecting park policies. “E-bikes represent another inroad of commercialized recreation into our National Parks.”

Joining PEER in the suit as co-plaintiffs are Wilderness Watch, Marin Conservation League, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Save Our Seashore, and three impacted individuals.

Read the PEER suit

See partial list of National Park units moving to allow e-bikes

Find out more about the issue

Why Don’t Environmentalists Just Buy the Land They Want To Protect? Because It’s Against the Rules

WEG worked to retire a permit for 50 cows on the 8,454-acre Alamocita allotment.

This is a thoughtful piece by Shawn Reagan of PERC in Bozeman, Montana about some of the same NGO’s we see litigating on federal lands trying approaches of buying and retiring leases to stop activities they don’t like, say grazing or oil and gas. As he says, in many places environmental groups feel that they can’t just buy land (as the example yesterday) because the land of interest is owned by the feds or state.  He has examples from grazing, oil and gas and timber, so it’s too long for me to excerpt meaningfully. I’d recommend reading the whole thing. He also has a more in-depth journal article with a co-author, Bryan Leonard of Arizona State University in the Natural Resources Journal.

Disputes between environmental activists and developers often have a predictable result: litigation. Environmental activists have perfected a zero-sum game of suing, suing, and then suing some more to halt development projects or other land-use activities they don’t like. An alphabet soup of environmental laws—from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA)—gives groups ample opportunities to stall projects with legal challenges or to thwart them entirely.

But increasingly, environmentalists are testing the strategy of bidding for the rights to natural resources instead. In recent years, activists have attempted to acquire oil and gas rights in Utah, buy out ranchers’ public grazing permits in New Mexico, purchase hunting tags in Wyoming to stop grizzly bears from being killed, and bid against logging companies in Montana to keep trees standing.

“It’s a market-based approach,” says Judi Brawer of WildEarth Guardians, an environmental group that has negotiated several grazing permit buyouts from ranchers in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. “And it’s way more effective at the end of the day.”

Environmentalists paying to protect landscapes isn’t itself new. Nonprofit organizations such as the Nature Conservancy do it all the time, raising millions of dollars in donations to buy land or easements to protect important landscapes from development. But the extent of these voluntary market-based exchanges is often limited to private lands. On federal and state property—which makes up most of the land in the American West—such deals are much more complicated, if not outright prohibited.

I’ll share some of my own perspectives on the topic:

1)  The oil and gas industry hires working-class (as well as other) people and pays them good wages, which leads to other purchases and taxes and so on, plus federal money goes to states which they use for education, etc.  So for the people, the county and the state, it’s not just the cost of the lease itself.  Example from this article: “The check, for $486,000,000, represents the portion the state receives from federal oil and gas lease sales. In total, the New Mexico has received revenues exceeding $1 billion in 2018 from BLM’s mandated quarterly lease sales.”  On the other hand, environmental groups might not pick the leases most likely to be developed, because of the cost.

2) This is a bit philosophical, but as Shawn points out, the original laws regarding federal land were to promote use of the land.  Are we that rich a country that we don’t need to use our own natural resources anymore? Would we feel the same way about buying out a ski area lease, or a wind or solar farm lease? It is a good thing to depend on international trade and the good will of other countries to provide energy and shelter? If we use things and don’t produce them ourselves, are we in effect exporting environmental damage to other countries, and is that the right thing to do? Do we trust those other countries or are there national security implications of not producing them here? Perhaps importing wood from Canada yes, perhaps oil from OPEC, no.

3) We could change from however flawed (as we at The Smokey Wire are very aware) planning decisions made by federal employees, with the input of the public, to planning decisions made by boards of some not-for-profit.  Some not-for-profits are sometimes funded by rich people from elsewhere (though again, not always).  Nevertheless, it’s clearly less transparent and less open to public opinion than the flawed federal decision-making process. Of course, they may be the same groups who tend to  “get their way” via litigation, as in Shawn’s piece.

4) I see grazing/ranching as a different situation due to the private and public land linkages (if groups bought the home ranch property and the federal permit, that would work better) , as he points out. There is also a difference in the people employed both in numbers and pay, and the fact that the US many other food sources. Still, ranchers provide financial and social capital bonuses to many struggling rural communities in a way that leaving it alone does not.

5) In the related realm of water rights NFWF (Nif-Wif) did an extensive review here.

Much for discussion here. Other thoughts?

Changing wildfires Sierra Nevada may threaten northern goshawks

Thanks to Nick Smith for including this press release in his Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities news roundup today. The paper mentioned is here ($S). Goshawks prefer late-seral forest, but such stands are at greater risk of fire. California spotted owls aren’t the only at-risk species.

Changing wildfires in the California’s Sierra Nevada may threaten northern goshawks

Amsterdam, December 5, 2019 – Wildfire is a natural process in the forests of the western US, and many species have evolved to tolerate, if not benefit from it. But wildfire is changing. Research in the journal Biological Conservation, published by Elsevier, suggests fire, as it becomes more frequent and severe, poses a substantial risk to goshawks in the Sierra Nevada region.

How Northern Goshawks respond to fire is not well understood. The single study to date examined the effects of fire on nest placement and found that the birds avoided nesting in areas burned at high severity. The effects of fire on the birds’ roosting and foraging habitat however may be more complex, because prey populations may temporarily increase in burned areas and improve their quality as a foraging habitat.

“To effectively manage and conserve wildlife, we need to understand how animals use the landscape across their life cycle,” noted corresponding author Dr. Rachel Blakey at The Institute for Bird Populations and UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science.

Dr. Blakey and her colleagues at the institute wanted to better understand the habitat preferences of Northern Goshawks. In collaboration with scientists at the US Forest Service and the US Geological Survey Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Missouri, the research team looked specifically at how goshawks use burned areas in the Plumas National Forest, California.

Twenty Goshawks were fitted with solar-powered global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices that monitored the habitats the goshawks chose for foraging and night-time roosting. Goshawks preferred forest stands with larger, more mature trees and higher canopy cover-also called “late seral” forest-for both roosting and foraging.

“While there was individual and sex-based variability in selection of habitat at the finest scales, at the larger spatial scales that are arguably most important for management, goshawks consistently selected for late-seral forest,” added Dr. Blakey.

Unfortunately, late-seral forest is already in short supply in the western US and the attributes that make it attractive to Northern Goshawks also put it at a high risk of large and severe wildfires. Further analysis of the study area showed that 80 percent foraging habitat and 87 percent of roost sites were designated a “High Wildfire Potential Hazard” by the US Forest Service.

Rodney Siegel, Executive Director of The Institute for Bird Populations and co-author of the study said “A lot of work by our organization and others over the past decade has shown that some wildlife species are quite resilient to forest fire and can even thrive in recently burned forests.

“But habitat selection by the Northern Goshawks we studied suggests that these birds, with their strong preference for late seral forest attributes like big trees and closed forest canopy, are jeopardized by changing fire patterns that reduce forest cover,” added Dr. Siegel.

Dr. Siegel also notes that reducing wildfire risk in goshawk habitat will be a major challenge for forest managers. “The treatments to reduce risk of high-severity fire, including forest thinning and prescribed fire, may also reduce goshawk foraging and roosting habitat quality if they decrease canopy cover and fragment late-seral forest,” said Dr. Siegel.

Dr. Blakey expects that the foraging and roosting habitat preferences seen in goshawks in this study are probably common to goshawks throughout the Sierra Nevada region, and perhaps western montane forests in general. Likewise, this preferred habitat is likely at risk of high severity fire across the region as well.

“Given that fire regimes are changing across the range of the Northern Goshawk, both in the US and across the species’ distribution globally, the use of burned habitats by this species should also be investigated more broadly,” concluded Dr. Blakey.

###

Ain’t That Good News?: Colorado Adds 19,200 Acre State Park for 55 1/2 Square Miles of Connected Public Lands

Fisher’s Peak

In all our discussions of the controversies of federal forest planning, protection and recreation (carving up the federal public land pie), it’s nice to see people who are making the pie bigger.  I see so many large foundations (e.g. Pew) funding communications efforts to get people to “vote to protect” or “public comment to protect” federal public lands.  What would happen if they used that same funding to buy out ranchers and go directly to  “protect?”

Kudos to The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, as well as the State of Colorado. Here’s the most recent Colorado Springs Gazette story.

Hopes have been high since the start of the year, soon after the massive acquisition was announced: Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado put down $14.5 million for the 19,200 acres, with nonprofits the Nature Conservancy and Trust for Public Land pledging the rest of the $25 million cost.

“Here at Fisher’s Peak,” the governor said before the thronelike monolith, “this is going to be one of the crown gems of our state park system.”

Only State Forest outsizes the yet-to-be-named park. And with Crazy French Ranch, stewards have achieved an even greater mosaic: Nearby is Trinidad Lake, and over Fisher’s ridge are two state wildlife areas, and beyond that is New Mexico’s Sugarite Canyon State Park. That’s 55 1/2 square miles of preservation.

From TNC here:

The plan is to permanently protect the outstanding wildlife habitat while supporting the local economy by creating a publicly owned recreation and education area.

“We hope to raise the bar for combining conservation and recreation,” says Matt Moorhead, conservation partnerships director for TNC in Colorado.

The Fisher’s Peak Project partners will now work together with community members and stakeholders on a planning process for the land that includes conservation of the landscape’s wondrous natural resources, well-managed recreational access and educational use. After the planning process is complete, the partners plan to transfer the property to public ownership.

Moorhead says, “By planning for both ecological and recreational goals from the ground floor, we’ll strive to show how solid conservation outcomes contribute to an economically thriving community, all while connecting future generations to nature.”

Might be interesting to observe how these partners work their planning process.

Samo-Samo for CASPO

No Threatened Status for the California Spotted Owl. Current protections remain. The article is a good read, with some of the “usual suspects”.

http://www.calaverasenterprise.com/news/article_a866d476-14d2-11ea-b7e0-7b830918c726.html

Reimagining The Rural West – WGA Workshop- Today !!

 

This is going on today in Post Falls Idaho… you can watch it on Youtube.

You can also make comments on Youtube. But I’m interested in your thoughts here.  Which one did you watch and what did you think? You can watch them later as well.

Here are a couple of that look interesting (including participation by sometime commenter Chelsea McIver, and two R-1 FS folks):

10:15 a.m. Natural Resource Management and Infrastructure Challenges: Responsible management of forests and rangelands relies on high-quality local infrastructure. The lack of sawmills, timber processing machinery, and adequate roads all reduce the business case for forest and rangeland management activities – from traditional timber sales to innovative forest thinning and rangeland management projects. Panelists will discuss historical changes to natural resources markets, strategies to create markets supporting ecosystem-based goals, and federal programs that can aid rural infrastructure challenges. Moderator: Idaho Governor Brad Little. Panelists: Matt Krumenauer, Vice President Special Projects, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities; Chelsea Pennick McIver, Research Analyst, Policy Analysis Group, University of Idaho; Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, U.S. Forest Service; Tom Schultz, VP of Government Affairs, Idaho Forest Group.

2:30 p.m. Community Collaboration and Revitalization in North Idaho: Through the North Idaho Tourism Alliance (NITA), 12 communities are working together to capitalize on their region’s assets, including spectacular scenery, access to outdoor recreation and local history. Panelists will discuss how their communities have evolved and how collaboration is helping to build a more vibrant economic future. Panelists: Stephanie Sims, Executive Director, International Selkirk Loop & NITA Board Chair; Colleen Rosson, Executive Director, Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation & NITA Board Vice Chair.

1:00 p.m. Broadening the Outdoor Recreation Economy: Outdoor recreation draws people from urban areas to rural communities, bringing economic benefits and bridging the urban-rural divide. To grow the outdoor recreation economy, rural communities need infrastructure, workforce, and businesses to support visitors and local residents. This panel will explore how different organizations are working to build and strengthen recreation economies. Moderator: Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors’ Association Panelists: Lindsey Shirley, University Outreach & Engagement Associate Provost, Oregon State University Extension Service; Jorge Guzmán, Founder and Executive Director, Vive NW; Tara McKee, Program Manager, Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation; Joe Alexander, Region 1 Director of Recreation, Minerals, Lands, Heritage, and Wilderness, U.S. Forest Service.

2:10 p.m. Cooperative Models Across the Rural West: Cooperative ownership and funding systems support local food systems, infrastructure assets, housing initiatives and a host of other critical efforts in the rural West. Panelists will discuss how cooperative models can support diverse rural development goals and examine how federal and state policies influence cooperative efforts. Moderator: Jim Ogsbury, Executive Director, Western Governors’ Association. Panelists: Lori Capouch, Rural Development Director, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives; Tim Freeburg, Board Member, Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative; Kate LaTour, Government Relations Manager, National Cooperative Business Association; Tim O’Connell, West Region Coordinator, Rural Development Innovation Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Check it out and tell us what you think!

 

Giving Tuesday- Don’t Forget The Smokey Wire!

 

I’ve gotten several emails in my box today requesting donations for other deserving organizations. This is just a note to remind you that The Smokey Wire needs donations as well, for the upkeep of our site, as well as any improvements we would want to make.

The Smokey Wire is a place for: 1) Asking questions and learning from a variety of folks with different backgrounds and experiences.

2 ) Discussing disagreements civilly, with the intent of mutual understanding.

3) Trying to figure out the truth or truths from scientific studies and news stories.

4) Networking with knowledgeable people for your own work.

As in the NYT article shared by Som Sai:

“As Erika Hall pointed out, we have centuries of experience designing real-life spaces where people gather safely. After the social media age is over, we’ll have the opportunity to rebuild our damaged public sphere by creating digital public places that imitate actual town halls, concert venues and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. These are places where people can socialize or debate with a large community, but they can do it anonymously. If they want to, they can just be faces in the crowd, not data streams loaded with personal information.

That’s because in real life, we have more control over who will come into our private lives, and who will learn intimate details about us. We seek out information, rather than having it jammed into our faces without context or consent. Slow, human-curated media would be a better reflection of how in-person communication works in a functioning democratic society.”

In our own humble way, we are contributing to knowledge about forests from a diversity of perspectives, and modeling civil digital public places.

Note: currently donations are not tax deductible. We hope to change that next year.