Restoration by the Numbers.. What Are They?

One more post before I leave..also if you sent me something to post and I forgot, please email terraveritas@gmail.com and I will get to it after my Solstice break.

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If this article is correct…

Forest Service Failing to Create Jobs, Stimulate Economy in Forest Management Practices

Crystal Feldman House Natural Resources Committee

During the height of this year’s record-breaking fire season, the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a legislative hearing on bills to address forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic forest fire. Following a Forest Service report on the need for restoration on 65-82 million acres of National Forest land, the Forest Service testified that it had restored 3.7 million acres in 2011. Restoration is the process of assisting recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Following the hearing, we submitted a series of questions to get further detail on what methods the agency used to “restore” these lands.

In its response, the Forest Service explained that of those 3.7 million acres, over 1.4 million – nearly 40% of the total – were “restored” through a combination of prescribed fire (fire intentionally set and monitored by the agency) and wildland-use fire (fire allowed to burn to achieve resource objectives). Meanwhile, commercial harvest was only allowed on 195,477 acres – 5% of the total work for 2011 and only .1% of the 193 million acres managed by the Forest Service.

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The .1 % seems to answer one of Derek’s questions. in the People’s Database.but does it agree with the below? It would be nice to see a table that shows prescribed fire, fire use, non-commercial and commercial thinnings and mechanical treatments by acre (like how many acres were touched by different treatments in a given year). Of course, if it’s a service contract, wood might still go to mills, not sure how that is considered in the numbers either..

Like this:

x acres commercial harvest fuels reduction thinning followed by prescribed burning
y acres commercial harvest fuels reduction thinning alone
z acres prescribed burning only forest in WUI
a acres prescribed burning only grasslands and shrublands
b acres prescribed burning only forest outside WUI
c acres fuels reduction could have gone to mill but we don’t know for sure
etc.

Also A little birdie told me that some of the figures in the report below are not accurate.

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/forests/newsroom/us-forest-service-program-reports-welcome-christmas-news.xml

U.S. Forest Service Program Reports Welcome Christmas News

Third Year of Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program Reveals Big Benefits for People, Water, and Wildlife

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/forests/newsroom/us-forest-service-program-reports-welcome-christmas-news.xml

Arlington, Virginia | December 19, 2012

An annual report was released today on the performance of a U.S. Forest Service program, called Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR), revealing impressive returns for forests, jobs, water, and wildlife. The three-year old program invested $40 million in forest restoration at 23 forested landscapes across the country in 2012.

As identified in the report, the 23 landscapes cumulatively provided the following 2012 results:

• Created and maintained 4,574 full- and part-time jobs;
• Generated nearly $320 million in labor income;
• Reduced the risk of megafire on 612,000 acres;
• Enhanced clean water supplies by remediating 6,000 miles of eroding roads;
• Sold 95.1 million cubic feet of timber;
• Improved 537,000 acres of wildlife habitat;
• Restored nearly 400 miles of fish habitat.

In addition to these on-the-ground results, CFLR also highlighted the opportunity to leverage matching investments in forest restoration. All told, CFLR leveraged an additional $45.4 million dollars towards collaborative actions in 2012.

Beyond the beauty they offer, forests are critical to life and livelihood across the nation. Americans forests cover one-third of the United States; store and filter half the nation’s water supply; provide jobs to more than a million wood products workers; absorb nearly 20% of U.S. carbon emissions; offer 650 million acres of recreational lands that generate well over $13 billion a year in economic activity; and provide habitat for thousands of species across the country.

Observers say the program is bucking the larger downward funding trend because restoration of National Forests is the new ‘zone of agreement’ where traditional adversaries in the timber industry, conservation, and local county governments are working to advance common goals. .

The collaborative results of the report were heralded by companies, community groups, and conservation organizations around the nation.

“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program is bringing communities from around the country together to create jobs, to restore forest and watershed health, and to reduce the costs of wildfire suppression at impressive scales,” offered Laura McCarthy of The Nature Conservancy. “The program and its many supporters are charting a successful path forward for National Forest management.”

“This is an outstanding program because it simultaneously helps forests, water, and jobs,” said Kelsey Delaney of the Society of American Foresters.

“Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects are cost efficient, mostly because of their long time frame and larger scale,” added Scott Brennan of The Wilderness Society. “Selected projects are assured funding as long as appropriations are available until 2019, which provided certainty for businesses their banks and other investors, time for workers to be trained and become skilled, and for product markets to be developed and expanded.”

“Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration has shown that the critical importance of healthy and thriving forests can be a unifying force,” said Rebecca Turner of American Forests. “Our organization is proud to be collaborating with such a diverse collective of partners on a program that received bipartisan support from Congress to improve the health of our forests, as well as creating needed jobs.”

Dylan Kruse of Sustainable Northwest said, “Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration is about boots on the ground, creating jobs in rural communities. Now is the time to invest in rural communities and restore the health of our National Forests. CFLR does exactly that.”

CFLR is particularly valuable now, on the heels of the nation recording its third-largest wildfire year. A century of suppressing natural wildfires has resulted in unhealthy forests choked with small trees and brush that can lead to destructive megafires. Over the last 50 years the United States has had only 6 years with more than 8 million acres burned— all have occurred in the last 8 years (including 2012).

The conditions of our forests are further enflamed by pest and diseases, as well as climate change. All told, The Nature Conservancy estimates 120 million acres of America’s forests – an area bigger than the state of California – are in immediate need of restoration due to this “perfect storm” of threats.

The 23 sites to receive investment in 2012 were:
• Ozark Highlands Ecosystem Restoration, Arkansas, $959,000
• Shortleaf-Bluestem Community Project, Arkansas and Oklahoma, $342,000
• Four Forest Restoration Initiative, Arizona, $2 million
• Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group Cornerstone Project, California, $730,000
• Burney-Hat Creek Basins Project, California, $605,000
• Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project, California, $829,900
• Front Range Landscape Restoration Initiative, Colorado, $1 million
• Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado, $446,000
• Accelerating Longleaf Pine Restoration, Florida, $1.17 million
• Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, Idaho, $324,000
• Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater, Idaho, $1 million
• Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project, Idaho, $2.45 million
• Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction, Mississippi, $2.71 million
• Pine-Oak Woodlands Restoration Project, Missouri, $617,000
• Southwestern Crown of the Continent, Montana, $1.03 million
• Southwest Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, $392,000
• Zuni Mountain Project, New Mexico, $400,000
• Grandfather Restoration Project, North Carolina, $605,000
• Deschutes Collaborative Forest, Oregon, $500,000
• Lakeview Stewardship Project, Oregon, $3.5 million
• Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, Oregon, $2.5 million
• Northeast Washington Forest Vision 2020, Washington, $968,000
• Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, Washington, $1.63 million

The CFLR annual report was produced by the CFLR Coalition, which is comprised of 145 member organizations that include private businesses, communities, counties, tribes, water suppliers, associations, and non-governmental organizations.

Copies of the 2012 CFLRP Annual Report can be requested from Jon Schwedler of the CFLR Coalition at jschwedler@tnc.org.

Information on CFLRP can be found at the U.S. Forest Service’s website: http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/CFLR/

6 Comments

  1. RE: Sharon’s comment “A little birdie told me that some of the figures in the report below are not accurate” in regards to the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program report.  I’m literally out the door headed to the in-laws for a few days, so I don’t have time to look at the all the stats in the 3rd annual CFLRP report; however, this was a comment I sent to a large forest activist listserve last year when the 2nd annual CFLRP report was issues.

    ——– Original Message ——–

    Subject: [forests] Report on the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program
    Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2011
    Matthew Koehler

    http://www.nature.org/media/science/cflrp-annual-report-lr-low.pdf

    Obviously some people put a lot of effort into this fancy-looking report to pat themselves on the back for the supposed achievements of the CFLRP, but I’m calling BS on many of the achievement claims made by these CFLRP collaborators in this report.

    There is simply no way possible that all of the work listed in the report (pasted below) was achieved “with just an initial $10 million federal investment.”

    Created and maintained 1,550 jobs;
    Produced 107 million board feet of timber;
    Generated nearly $59 million of labor income;
    Removed fuel for destructive mega-fires on 90,000 acres near communities;
    Reduced mega-fire on an additional 64,000 acres;
    Improved 66,000 acres of wildlife habitat;
    Restored 28 miles of fish habitat;
    Enhanced clean water supplies by remediating 163 miles of eroding roads.

    Based on our organization’s experience with the SouthWest Crown of the Continent Collaborative in Montana, it was made quite abundantly clear by Forest Service officials that the $1 million this SWCC collaborative received was a very small shot in the arm, but most of the work in the SWCC landscape (on portions of the Lolo, Flathead and Lewis and Clark National Forests) was already in the works and in the Forest Service’s pipeline long before the CFLRP was even passed into law. In other words, many of these CFLRP collaboratives are dramatically over-inflating accomplishments directly attributed to the CFLRP and are taking credit for work that the Forest Service would have done anyway, regardless of if CFLRP passed or if $10 million was allocated to these 10 projects around the country.

    I’d also like to point out that the unscientific, fear-based term “mega-fire” is used in this report a total of 27 times, which is pretty incredible and unfortunate as it really has no scientific basis and just helps enforce fire hysteria.

  2. I think I’d add “what percent of every forest is in the WUI zone” and most importantly: “what percent of the WUI is treated every year.” Might make for a lousy headline if the Missouolian reported “USFS treats only 1% of WUI every year.” I don’t really know the number…and that’s the problem. I suspect the number is much higher than 1%. Of all the USFS “projects” I read in the inland West, I’d say the USFS is making a sincere effort to treat the WUI.

    I’d also add the following:
    #1–total forested acreage of every forest.
    #2–percentages. Big numbers by themselves mean nothing. You need perspective. I can tell you they moved 500,000 cubic yards of dirt,and you wouldn’t have a clue how much that was..until I told you it was a “cube” that would cover a football feild 100 yards deep.I could tell you that the Lolo Nat. Forest logged 24,000acres in the last ten years…sounds like a lot until I tell you it was 1.2% of the “forested acreage.”(now, I wonder what percent of the Lolo is in the WUI)

    #3–to expand on Sharon’s “abc, xyz” list. A catagory that combines those acres that had “follow up” treatments. Such as a commercial thin, followed by Pre commercial thin , followed by slash pile “jackpot” burning. I’ve seen forests count 10,000 acres of commercial thinning, followed by PCT, followed by pile burning as “30,000 acres of “fuels treatment.” You’d probably need a commitee to come up with a name and another one to write the asteric that would explain it to the public, but maybe something simple like “Actual non duplicated treatment acres.” A ten year Queery of the FACTS data base should weed out any repeat treatments. EXample would be an RX burn five years after a commercial thinning would not be counted in this catagory. All the public really wants to know is “what percent of the WUI is “actually” being treated every year.” They have a right to know that don’t they?

  3. Why the undue focus on commercial extraction as a preferred tool for restoration? Fire _should_ be the primary tool, because it most closely resembles the natural processes that shaped and maintained western ecosystems for preceding thousands of years. Commercial logging has several significant impacts that do not mimic natural processes and make it less than ideal tool for restoration, e.g. road construction, soil compaction/displacement, accelerated transfer of carbon to the atmosphere, export of large woody structure that is often needed for future recruitment of large trees/snags/down-logs. Sure, there is a role for commercial logging, but it should not be a primary criteria to set restoration priorities. Where commercial motivations do set priorities, many other important restoration needs will go unmet.

    • When forests are overstocked with commercial-sized trees (10″-30″ dbh), some of them must be cut to restore stocking levels. Additionally, where excess commercial-sized trees do not exist and forests are choked with submerchantable trees, the commercial units can pay for the non-commercial work. Just what is YOUR plan to restore tree densities, species compositions and age distributions, Tree?!? Catastrophic wildfires “re-balance” forests in ways humans don’t like. You assume a certain kind of logging that simply isn’t what is being proposed. You say there is a role for commercial logging so, let’s hear it, Tree!

  4. Sharon,

    With regard to Matt’s point, yes, those of us following the CFLR program need to flush this “little birdie” from the brush to learn more! It must be challenging for the “collaborators” and folks steering the CFLR projects to see innacurate information published in press releases! Oh well, it’s all in the framing I guess. Whatever looks good. Not like AWR or others of their ilk ever streeeeetch things a little to make a point (i.e. “massive” logging projects). Not that I’m picking on AWR or anything….

    Tree, you asked:

    “Why the undue focus on commercial extraction as a preferred tool for restoration?”

    You further stated:

    “Sure, there is a role for commercial logging, but it should not be a primary criteria to set restoration priorities. Where commercial motivations do set priorities, many other important restoration needs will go unmet.”

    Since we’re talking the CFLR program specifically, there is language in section 4001 purpose:

    “The purpose of this title is to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes through a process that…
    (4) demonstrates the degree to which…..
    (B) the use of forest restoration byproducts can offset treatment costs while benefitting local rural economies and improving forest health.”

    http://www.fs.fed.us/restoration/documents/cflrp/titleIV.pdf

    Now the above may be an abhorrent ideal in your view, but it is written into the legislation, so I’d imagine that the folks participating and steering the programs are wrestling hard with how to make that pass the sniff test with each of their respective projects. “Restoration” and commercial extraction don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’d give the benefit of the doubt to the collaborators on this one, for now. Let’s see what happens….

    Further, I disagree with you when you say that when commercial motivations set priorities other important restoration needs go unmet. Instead of arguing this point I’d offer that a better way to look at it is, “Where responsible forest management (call it “restoration” if you must) can provide a commercial product that generates revenue, it should be persued in order to fund other important restoration needs.”

    Cheep, er, I mean Cheers

    • Well said, JZ. Those of us who have direct dealings with collaborative projects know that it is important to jump through the hoops. There is more at stake here than just jobs, income and local economics. It is an opportunity to invest in the land, using the money to treat non-commercial units. A huge ecological win is the restoration of road function where road maintenance has been absent for decades. Just in one season, our group has opened about 20 blocked roads. Many of them had serious brush encroachment, as well. When our project is done, those roads will be restored to like-new function. The collaborative “greater good” will be served and new science will be included in the finished product.

      Our new District Ranger had to change some decisions and make some hard choices to accommodate and assimilate projects into the legal and ecological frameworks already in place. His collaborative counterpart on the adjacent Ranger District has not been so creative in following the collaborative intentions.

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