Hanson: The Ecological Importance of California’s Rim Fire

The following article, written by Dr. Chad Hanson, appeared yesterday at the Earth Island Journal. Once again, I’d like to respectfully request that if anyone has questions about the content of the article please contact Dr. Hanson directly. Thanks. – mk

The Ecological Importance of California’s Rim Fire: Large, intense fires have always been a natural part of fire regimes in Sierra Nevada forests
by Chad Hanson – August 28, 2013

Since the Rim fire began in the central Sierra Nevada on August 17, there has been a steady stream of fearful, hyperbolic, and misinformed reporting in much of the media. The fire, which is currently 188,000 acres in size and covers portions of the Stanislaus National Forest and the northwestern corner of Yosemite National Park, has been consistently described as “catastrophic”, “destructive”, and “devastating.” One story featured a quote from a local man who said he expected “nothing to be left”. However, if we can, for a moment, set aside the fear, the panic, and the decades of misunderstanding about wildland fires in our forests, it turns out that the facts differ dramatically from the popular misconceptions. The Rim fire is a good thing for the health of the forest ecosystem. It is not devastation, or loss. It is ecological restoration.

What relatively few people in the general public understand at present is that large, intense fires have always been a natural part of fire regimes in Sierra Nevada forests. Patches of high-intensity fire, wherein most or all trees are killed, creates “snag forest habitat,” which is the rarest, and one of the most ecologically important, forest habitat types in the entire Sierra Nevada. Contrary to common myths, even when forest fires burn hottest, only a tiny proportion of the aboveground biomass is actually consumed (typically less than 3 percent). Habitat is not lost. Far from it. Instead, mature forest is transformed into “snag forest”, which is abundant in standing fire-killed trees, or “snags,” patches of native fire-following shrubs, downed logs, colorful flowers, and dense pockets of natural conifer regeneration.

This forest rejuvenation begins in the first spring after the fire. Native wood-boring beetles rapidly colonize burn areas, detecting the fires from dozens of miles away through infrared receptors that these species have evolved over millennia, in a long relationship with fire. The beetles bore under the bark of standing snags and lay their eggs, and the larvae feed and develop there. Woodpecker species, such as the rare and imperiled black-backed woodpecker (currently proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act), depend upon snag forest habitat and wood-boring beetles for survival.

One black-backed woodpecker eats about 13,500 beetle larvae every year — and that generally requires at least 100 to 200 standing dead trees per acre. Black-backed woodpeckers, which are naturally camouflaged against the charred bark of a fire-killed tree, are a keystone species, and they excavate a new nest cavity every year, even when they stay in the same territory. This creates homes for numerous secondary cavity-nesting species, like the mountain bluebird (and, occasionally, squirrels and even martens), that cannot excavate their own nest cavities. The native flowering shrubs that germinate after fire attract many species of flying insects, which provide food for flycatchers and bats; and the shrubs, new conifer growth, and downed logs provide excellent habitat for small mammals. This, in turn, attracts raptors, like the California spotted owl and northern goshawk, which nest and roost mainly in the low/moderate-intensity fire areas, or in adjacent unburned forest, but actively forage in the snag forest habitat patches created by high-intensity fire — a sort of “bedroom and kitchen” effect. Deer thrive on the new growth, black bears forage happily on the rich source of berries, grubs, and small mammals in snag forest habitat, and even rare carnivores like the Pacific fisher actively hunt for small mammals in this post-fire habitat.

In fact, every scientific study that has been conducted in large, intense fires in the Sierra Nevada has found that the big patches of snag forest habitat support levels of native biodiversity and total wildlife abundance that are equal to or (in most cases) higher than old-growth forest. This has been found in the Donner fire of 1960, the Manter and Storrie fires of 2000, the McNally fire of 2002, and the Moonlight fire of 2007, to name a few. Wildlife abundance in snag forest increases up to about 25 or 30 years after fire, and then declines as snag forest is replaced by a new stand of forest (increasing again, several decades later, after the new stand becomes old forest). The woodpeckers, like the black-backed woodpecker, thrive for 7 to 10 years after fire generally, and then must move on to find a new fire, as their beetle larvae prey begins to dwindle. Flycatchers and other birds increase after 10 years post-fire, and continue to increase for another two decades. Thus, snag forest habitat is ephemeral, and native biodiversity in the Sierra Nevada depends upon a constantly replenished supply of new fires.

It would surprise most people to learn that snag forest habitat is far rarer in the Sierra Nevada than old-growth forest. There are about 1.2 million acres of old-growth forest in the Sierra, but less than 400,000 acres of snag forest habitat, even after including the Rim fire to date. This is due to fire suppression, which has, over decades, substantially reduced the average annual amount of high-intensity fire relative to historic levels, according to multiple studies. Because of this, and the combined impact of extensive post-fire commercial logging on national forest lands and private lands, we have far less snag forest habitat now than we had in the early twentieth century, and before. This has put numerous wildlife species at risk. These are species that have evolved to depend upon the many habitat features in snag forest — habitat that cannot be created by any other means. Further, high-intensity fire is not increasing currently, according to most studies (and contrary to widespread assumptions), and our forests are getting wetter, not drier (according to every study that has empirically investigated this question), so we cannot afford to be cavalier and assume that there will be more fire in the future, despite fire suppression efforts. We will need to purposefully allow more fires to burn, especially in the more remote forests.

The black-backed woodpecker, for example, has been reduced to a mere several hundred pairs in the Sierra Nevada due to fire suppression, post-fire logging, and commercial thinning of forests, creating a significant risk of future extinction unless forest management policies change, and unless forest plans on our national forests include protections (which they currently do not). This species is a “management indicator species”, or bellwether, for the entire group of species associated with snag forest habitat. As the black-backed woodpecker goes, so too do many other species, including some that we probably don’t yet know are in trouble. The Rim fire has created valuable snag forest habitat in the area in which it was needed most in the Sierra Nevada: the western slope of the central portion of the range. Even the Forest Service’s own scientists have acknowledged that the levels of high-intensity fire in this area are unnaturally low, and need to be increased. In fact, the last moderately significant fires in this area occurred about a decade ago, and there was a substantial risk that a 200-mile gap in black-backed woodpeckers populations was about to develop, which is not a good sign from a conservation biology standpoint. The Rim fire has helped this situation, but we still have far too little snag forest habitat in the Sierra Nevada, and no protections from the ecological devastation of post-fire logging.

Recent scientific studies have caused scientists to substantially revise previous assumptions about historic fire regimes and forest structure. We now know that Sierra Nevada forests, including ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests, were not homogenously “open and parklike” with only low-intensity fire. Instead, many lines of evidence, and many published studies, show that these areas were often very dense, and were dominated by mixed-intensity fire, with high-intensity fire proportions ranging generally from 15 percent to more than 50 percent, depending upon the fire and area. Numerous historic sources, and reconstructions, document that large high-intensity fire patches did in fact occur prior to fire suppression and logging. Often these patches were hundreds of acres in size, and occasionally they were thousands — even tens of thousands — of acres. So, there is no ecological reason to fear or lament fires like the Rim fire, especially in an era of ongoing fire deficit.

Most fires, of course, are much smaller, and less intense than the Rim fire, including the other fires occurring this year. Over the past quarter-century fires in the Sierra Nevada have been dominated on average by low/moderate-intensity effects, including in the areas that have not burned in several decades. But, after decades of fear-inducing, taxpayer-subsidized, anti-fire propaganda from the US Forest Service, it is relatively easier for many to accept smaller, less intense fires, and more challenging to appreciate big fires like the Rim fire. However, if we are to manage forests for ecological integrity, and maintain the full range of native wildlife species on the landscape, it is a challenge that we must embrace.

Encouragingly, the previous assumption about a tension between the restoration of more fire in our forests and home protection has proven to be false. Every study that has investigated this issue has found that the only way to effectively protect homes is to reduce combustible brush in “defensible space” within 100 to 200 feet of individual homes. Current forest management policy on national forest lands, unfortunately, remains heavily focused not only on suppressing fires in remote wildlands far from homes, but also on intensive mechanical “thinning” projects — which typically involve the commercial removal of upwards of 80 percent of the trees, including mature trees and often old-growth trees —that are mostly a long distance from homes. This not only diverts scarce resources away from home protection, but also gives homeowners a false sense of security because a federal agency has implied, incorrectly, that they are now protected from fire — a context that puts homes further at risk.

The new scientific data is telling us that we need not fear fire in our forests. Fire is doing important and beneficial ecological work, and we need more of it, including the occasional large, intense fires. Nor do we need to balance home protection with the restoration of fire’s role in our forests. The two are not in conflict. We do, however, need to muster the courage to transcend our fears and outdated assumptions about fire. Our forest ecosystems will be better for it.

Chad Hanson, the director of the John Muir Project (JMP) of Earth Island Institute, has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California at Davis, and focuses his research on forest and fire ecology in the Sierra Nevada. He can be reached at cthanson1@gmail.com, or visit JMP’s website at www.johnmuirproject.org for more information, and for citations to specific studies pertaining to the points made in this article.

92 Comments

  1. Jerry franklin has been saying much the same about a lack of complex early seral post fire habitat. But unlike Hanson he also pushes aggressive thinning in other locations to reduce fire mortality,

    Hanson says much the same as wuerthner but says it a lot better and has completed a lot of actual field work to buttress his findings, I may disagree at times but I have professional respect for Chad, Compared to the PNW, the CA sierra forest has seen little severe fire in recent decades. I told him that we already had plenty enough in Oregon.

  2. Thank you Matthew for this enlightened (and increasingly rarified) view of the forest as community rather than as a capitalist commodity. It will no doubt provoke a profound discomfort of land managers who choose to see the life of forest community only when it supports the “success” of their “management.”

    And if remnants of the forest community somehow stubbornly hang on despite large scale land-management activities, the self-adoration of “success” at stewardship and restoration follows in the corporate for-profit news media, as surely as night follows day.

    There is a tendency for convincing published research refuting public land management rhetoric to be usually followed here, by either conspicuous silence, by casting doubt and aspersions on the presenter, or vacuous protest.

    I look forward to the day on NCFP when a wider acknowledgement and appreciation of Hanson’s insights will appear in the dialogue here.

    • I can’t believe people who comment here anonymously talk about “The Emperor has new [sic] clothes.” Think you mean, “no” Stump. Anyway, back to the actually substance of Dr. Hanson’s piece. What “stuff” in the piece can’t you believe that people believe, Stump? Enlighten us please.

      • I am opposed to the general idea that fire is good for the forests. Fire kills trees and removes organic material from the forest floor that has taken hundreds of years to accumulate.
        I think forests have evolved to survived in spite of fire not because of fire.
        I am only familiar with the forests fires of the last 20 years here is Southwestern Oregon. Every forests that I have visited and worked in after a fire in this area has been devastated by these fires. Typically the fires burned so hot that the only thing left were rocks and dead trees. These landscapes are more typical of deserts than of forests.
        These beautiful forests that had taken hundreds of years to grow are gone.
        My idea of healthy forests is one that is alive and mixed up.

  3. I live near the fire and I smell smoke every day because of it. Their have been a lot of people who have lost their homes and basically everything but what they carried on their backs or loaded into their car when they were evacuated.

    Yes the fire is good for the forest but it is DEVISTATING to the people who lost everything. I didnt read your whole article because it made me mad. From what I read, you really need to show some compassion to the people of the Rim fire.

    Too bad you were not hugging a tree in the forest where this fire was burning so you could get a more realistic picture of the whole impact, not just the enviromental impact.

    • Phil: I just skimmed the article because of who wrote it and because I am familiar with his earlier work and statements. However, the fire is NOT good for the forest, either, or the wildlife that live in the forest. People who champion that kind of nonsense need to start coming up with better information to back their claims. Black backed woodpeckers ain’t it.

  4. hanson is not in any way suggesting that loss of homes is acceptable, he is only talking about forest ecology. He has nothing against treatments around homes to reduce risk of fire loss.

    Your comment about matt hugging a tree in the forest is offensive and if you persist you should be removed from this list, it sounds like you want him to die. You need to apologize now.

    Sharon, I suggest you clean this up now. If I do not see an apology I am off this list and you can have the wing nuts.

    • Just to clarify, when I wrote

      “Too bad you were not hugging a tree in the forest where this fire was burning so you could get a more realistic picture of the whole impact, not just the environmental impact.”

      I was in no way saying that I wanted the author to die. Maybe I could of added a couple of more words to make it more clear what I was saying but I assumed that my statement implied that I wanted the author to survive the fire but had the first hand experience of being near the fire to see all of whats impacted not just the environment before he wrote the article.

      Anyway if you took offence, sorry. I hope this clears up what I said or tried to say.

      • Ok, thanks much for that, now back to the real issues, We often say things on the internet we wish had been written differently and can;t take them back, Onwards. I was snappy myself, in person it is much easier to get over these things.

  5. It should be pretty obvious that Hanson is interpreting the forest as an ecological formation whose values are inherent; not as a source of a valuable commodity. While most people would acknowledge that there is a need for wood in our economic lives, the view of forest as repository of biodiversity is equally valid. The challenge is getting the proportions right, so that all values are respected and perpetuated without prejudice.
    The loss of houses is not relevant to the biological argument. With proper investment and sensible zoning it should be possible for people who want to live in close proximity to forest or other combustible vegetation to stay reasonably safe. But they must accept a level of risk. I say that as one who is taking that risk as we speak.
    Something Hanson did not bring up is that a “modern” view of the naturalness of forest fire is not so modern. 20th century foresters lost jobs, prestige, or worse for speaking up in defense of fire as an ecological regenerator. It was not only fires that were suppressed — it was also free inquiry and advocacy.

    • Really well said Ron. Simple solutions do not exist in a complex and interconnected world. I read these posts and I can see that all are right. So what do we do since we all share this planet? The only rationale response is to resolve these issues much like we would with a close loved one with whom we disagree….we work it out as we go. It’s not glamorous and doesn’t serve the personal ego very well, but it is really the only course to take in the long run. This forum could be a great place to come up with creative solutions…

    • Ron, I heard you saying two things.. ..1. Any set of plants are an “ecological formation whose values are inherent” ;we could say the same thing about the Central Valley grasslands whose values are inherent and are now in almond orchards, or the coast area that is now in viticulture.

      So it seems you have to say “forests are unique enough they shouldn’t be messed with” so SP shouldn’t manage while Gallo can?

      There are so many normative things going on there, I don’t see how a Ph.D. in science can make you an expert. Hint: you have one, I have one, Bob has one, Chad has one and we seem to disagree on this.

      and 2) “fire can be good” has been known for a long time. I agree with that. But we have to be able to talk about different kinds of fires and who wins and who loses, both animals, plants, people, and soil and water and air.

  6. Just remember that ole Chad was even too extreme for the Sierra Club. He’s also the very same guy who wants to end all timber sales, regardless of the beneficial goals they accomplish. He is also the same guy who considers dead trees along roads as “habitat”, instead of hazards.

    I also remind everyone that BBW’s use snags for only 6 years, then have to find “fresh kill” for the remaining two years of their lives. Just HOW MANY snags do a few pairs of birds NEED!!!

    The fire in the canyon could not have been mitigated but, it doesn’t take a psychic to guess that a fire would burn out of that awesomely-steep and dangerous canyon. We should have had fuelbreaks along the edges of the canyon. Parts of the Rim Fire burned back in 1971, and I last worked on thinning plantations from that fire as late as 2000. Other parts of the Rim Fire burned back in 1987. Portions of that older fire were “left to recover on their own”, turning into fuels-choked 40 year old brushfields, with few conifers growing within. I KNOW that such prodigious brush buildup led to such rapid and intense fire behavior. I also saw the very same incinerated lands, near Cherry Lake, back in 1972, while on a fieldtrip, in 8th grade.

    This fire makes almost all of the Groveland Ranger District burned in the last 40 years. I fully expect there to be a huge bark beetle outbreak in the next 5 years, with a giant plume of them coming from the Rim Fire. Just like it did back in 1987!

    • Just remember that ole Chad was even too extreme for the Sierra Club. He’s also the very same guy who wants to end all timber sales, regardless of the beneficial goals they accomplish. He is also the same guy who considers dead trees along roads as “habitat”, instead of hazards.

      Just remember, Larry, that you wrote this piece titled, “When a preservationist joins a collaborative group” about your buddy, “ole Chad.”

      Did you also forget, Larry, that in the comments section to that piece you stated:

      “I have to give Hanson a clean slate for participating in a collaborative situation. What I have read indicates a reasonable concern, from his point of view.”

      Seems to me, Larry, that now you are dirtying that “clean slate” you gave Dr. Hanson, or “ole Chad” as you now call him.

      • I only gave him a clean slate for his entry into the Collaborative. Since then, he has dragged his feet and been in the minority on his opinions about active management, within the Collaborative group. He hasn’t changed his mind on timber sales, so he has got that going against him. He obviously isn’t in favor of selling trees, although he appears to be a part of a process to do just that. His actions elsewhere haven’t changed, either, and are not part of the clean slate I gave him for the Sequoia. I believe that he is using the Sequoia, because all he has to do to stop timber sales there is to close the only lumber mill in all of southern California. Sierra Forest Products has been on the brink for more than 6 years now. This family-run lumber mill cannot last much longer, without a dependable supply of timber from five different National Forests.

    • Larry, It sounds like you wish that black-backed woodpecker had habitat needs different than the ones they evolved to exploit. That is a bit like wishing you lived in a world where monkeys could fly. It’s just not helpful t the conversation.

      Also, “attacking the messenger” is a widely known gimmick used by those who cannot refute the substance of an argument.

      • The first paragraph of my first comment has specific problems I have with his way of thinking. It is clear that he doesn’t present all the facts about the birds’ biology and their habitat needs. If there truly is such a small amount of BBW’s left, then how many thousands of trees does each bird need? I would be more than happy to set aside 4000 trees for each nesting pair, leaving a huge surplus, each year, for harvesting.

  7. Hanson presents a strong statement of support for the ecocentrist’s position of “Let nature take its course”. His contention that big, intense fires are good for black-backed woodpeckers and all the other forest creatures he mentions should sit well with those honor gaia and feel that putting out fires in the back country does her a disservice. It should also reinforce believers who feel that those who offend her by building dwellings in sacred places will be severely punished, a la Waldo Canyon and Black Forest. For those having doubts about the virtues of snag forest habitat read (again, Matt)
    http://www.wvmcconnell.net/?page_id=105

  8. Another thing ignored by Hanson is how much precious owl and goshawk habitat was lost in the Rim Fire?? He never seems to address impacts to other T&E species, whose habitat is much more rare than burned forests. If BBW’s were so rare, how come they didn’t die out during the 30 years of zero protections? If they are so few, why do they need hundreds of thousands of acres of burned lands?!? Of course, Hanson doesn’t address that.

    • Larry, Here’s an idea. Dr. Hanson’s email is clearly listed at the bottom of this piece. Why don’t you pose your questions directly to Dr. Hanson and let us know what you find out? I hardly expect someone to cover every issue under the “wildfire-forest-management” sun in a 1,700 word article. So please do contact Hanson, pose your questions and share his answers with this blog community. Let’s use this blog as the effective mutual learning tool it could be. Thanks.

        • In Chad’s article, the following is actually a scary statistic: “It would surprise most people to learn that snag forest habitat is far rarer in the Sierra Nevada than old-growth forest. There are about 1.2 million acres of old-growth forest in the Sierra, but less than 400,000 acres of snag forest habitat, even after including the Rim fire to date.”

          Since snag forest is short-lived, and old growth is long-lived, there should be proportionally much more old growth than snag forest. We need lots of “extra” old growth to serve a a continuous recruitment pool for ephemeral snag forests.

          Unfortunately, there is a westwide shortage of old growth (habitat for spotted owls, goshawks, pileated woodpecker, marten, etc) so there is a shortage of snag habitat and the snag habitats that are created from non-old-growth forests are often sub-optimal for black-backed woodpeckers (and many other species).

          • What is an acre of “snag forest habitat”? Don’t woodpeckers just use “snags” that they detect, rather than acres of “snag forest habitat? How would Chad know how many acres with snags there are? Snags don’t only occur in old growth- if non-old growth habitat is “suboptimal” what does that mean? do we have to manage everything to be optimal for a creature?
            I’m sure that there are many human beings whose habitat is way “suboptimal.”
            Is there a “shortage” of old growth? How do you decide how much is “enough”?

              • My organization supports “sound forest management” and I know lots of other environmental/forest/wilderness protection organizations that do too. I suppose it depends on how one defines “sound forest management.”

                • Matt is sure right about this, and it needs to be recognized, In E Oregon .people in Oregon Wild and other groups have been on board with big thinning programs, ditto many other enviro groups. Those who seem to most oppose, like Hanson, are a real minority.

                  But unlike hanson, they seem really ill educated. A lot of psuedo science from some.

                  The point is that there is confusion about how to best accomplish protection of remnant old forest in E Oregon, it is not clear what treatments works best and where.

                  Anybody contending that enviro groups have not supported management has not been paying attention, I have seen huge shifts in their thinking on this over last 15 years.

                  • Greg

                    If “The point is that there is confusion about how to best accomplish protection of remnant old forest in E Oregon, it is not clear what treatments works best and where.” then why do some here get so uptight when a professional forester suggests sound forest management with accommodations for environmental concerns as a balanced and practical starting point forward on federal lands with room for modification as we go forward?
                    See my August 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm comment below.

                    Matthew started this post but he nor others have made a comment as to whether or not he is in agreement with Hanson’s point of view that the Rim Fire is a ‘good thing’ in spite of evidence to the contrary as I posted on August 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm below. I could assume that because he posted it that he agrees with it but then I would be speculating.

                    How about you, Tree and any other hot blooded enviro group supporters on this blog – what do you think – would it have been smart to have done some sound forest management over the years to reduce the probability of this thing having gone to 315 square miles (202,000 acres) as of this morning 8/30/13?

                    Can we recognize that there are no perfect solutions that will be absolutely right and make everyone happy. Can we all agree that Nature Only isn’t the answer except on 25% or 15% or 35% or 50% of USFS lands?

                    All of this talk while Rome is burning is senseless when we are all environmentalists and don’t want to foul our nest. It seems that we really don’t want a solution because we’d rather talk about it and if we had a solution, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

                    • I know nothing about that terrain although recent reports are that Park Service prescribed burn areas seem to be dampening the blaze, as they were intended. The problem is that even with a lot of treated areas on FS ground outside the park, the fire can still work past them under extreme conditions. Can enough ground have been treated to really make a difference? I assume that much or most of the burned ground was steep, hardly treatable except with prescribed fire.. (???)

                      I always viewed CA as crowded and oversubscribed so I stayed out of there except for north coast, i know next to nothing about the Sierra although i was there 2 years ago and took a lot of pics of treated FS lands outside Sequoia NP which looked pretty good to me. And nice prescribed burns on NP lands but not enough of it.

                    • For sure, what else can they do? And those burn outs sure can have impacts that are hardly recognized, not much choice really but they need more attention. BTW, a good buddy was area commander ( or whatever they call it) on west side of Biscuit so i got his take on the practice;

                      But it needs to be said, those burn outs can account for much more of burn area than people realize, problem is that they are only thing that can work. Letting it go is not an option now.

                    • Since the fire has already entered the park, I really doubt they will mount any effort to stop it on the east front. Besides, it is burning into significant granite terrain. I also expect the southeast portion to reach the Tioga Road, where they will try to stop it. Basically, the northern third of the Park is more like a Wilderness Area, with no roads at all.

                      Outside of the canyon, some efforts were made along Highway 120 to thin out crowded roadside stands. Those will be interesting to look at, as they were burned over, like the rest of the forest.

                    • oregon wild’s guy in E oregon-Tim Lillebo, is completely into it. And KS wild was involved with stuff in IV, they are more grudging but being cranks is kinda who they are, with exceptions. And notice all the work around Takilma that would not have been accepted a few years ago, about time, they need to thin the heck out of lower Page Creek. What was initially most accepted was work in plantations, from there they began to accept other things. But they need a lot more work to keep the place from torching. Work by Lomakatsi to do fuels work has gotten a lot of support. They really worked on the ground behind the community center.

                      I perhaps overstate the progress…but….it is there.

              • Matthew & Greg

                I am interested in finding common ground so I really would like more specifics as to how these groups define sound forest management (SFM), the parameters that determine whether or not it is appropriate and specific examples of implementation of SFM that they supported.

                • Gil:

                  These national Restoration Principles, released about ten years ago (and shared and discussed on this blog about a dozen times over the past few years) were the result of a 4-year bridge building effort between conservation groups and restoration practitioners to develop agreement on a common sense, scientifically-based framework for restoring our nation’s forests. I believe over 100 + conservation/environmental groups from around the country signed onto these Principles and still support them. Thanks.

                  • andy kerr has written a lot about it, you can google him and those
                    terms, he has a web site with stuff up on it, with a long report on it. I respect him a lot. He has changed with the times.

                    How others define it varies, I have heard some dreadful opinions on it by some and have to bite my tongue. Klamath Siskiyou wildlands center also has stuff on their web site although it has been contentious within those ranks, I kinda gave up on talking about it, I did not spend 6 years in grad school to waste my time with many of them but…..hmmm……Ashland woo woo types…..

                    But other friends of mine who have been as avid tree huggers as you can imagine, lately have been doing the chop on a lot of trees on their land, dreading losing a home in a fire.

                    I think you will find much of what they say on it fuzzy, most have little real experience and little exposure to forest practices, I did what I could on this but at a certain point it seemed hardly worth my effort with some.

                    BTW, Pacific Rivers Council issued a “report” by someone on enviro impacts of such thinning in 2007 I think it was. I slaughtered it, enlisted three reviewers to beat it into the ground, If the writer had been a faculty person somewhere I might have tried to get him fired for bungling his citations, reporting the exact opposite of what the thing actually said. My cornell affiliation at that time really made it sting, but they had it coming.

                    They backed off on it after that but I lost a few friends. If I humiliated them I had given the project leader fair warning that the author could not be relied on to be accurate. If I had been given the chance to review it before it was issued publicly it might have gone differently but the 8 people who supposedly reviewed it for them hardly seem to have read it and did not know the lit.

                    • I do expect to see pieces pushed forth about impacts from the Rim Fire, from BOTH sides! I do have ample knowledge of the area, and I can say with confidence that management wouldn’t have had any effect on wildfire in the Tuolumne River canyon. My integrity requires me to make this concession. The canyon is mostly chaparral, with some scattered timber on the north-facing slopes. The ruggedness of the huge canyon makes any project a moot point.

                      Greg seems more like the “Ologists” I have worked with in the past. I will welcome his views, regardless of “which side” they may end up on.

                  • Matthew

                    I just read the restoration principles and really don’t see them as providing any way forward when there can be no consensus on most of the environmental issues since no one has the wisdom of God. Given that “over 100 + conservation/environmental groups from around the country signed onto these Principles and still support them”, it would seem to me that the only reason these organizations could agree on these principles is they are vague generalities which completely skip over the details necessary to implement them. There would be very little agreement on the details imho.

                    This quote from the first page says it all “the National
                    Fire Plan has funded fuel reduction projects (many of them commercial timber sales) in endangered species habitat, roadless areas, old-growth forests, and areas where there is no scientific evidence that forests are at risk from catastrophic fires (DellaSala and Frost 2001). An increase in use by the Forest Service of the commercial timber sale program to “restore” federal lands poses risks that logging will adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat and ecologically sensitive landscapes.”
                    How can anything concrete come from this? There will always be a lilly livered lizard in the way of any project. No one knows where fire is going to strike and determining risk from catastrophic fire is very subjective. Any activity on just about any acre can be contested.

                    To become a believer, I need to see specific examples of where these principles were applied by various environmental groups in cases where decisions between contradicting environmental concerns were made and concrete actions were taken to implement sound forest management as part of the solution.

                    • Yup, my impression exactly when i read it, too vague to be of much use but that was 10 years ago and a lot of projects have been completed, esp in SW Oregon. I tried to organize workshops to evaluate them but not much interest, Some support them but grudgingly, and not too interested in the details like i am. Andy Kerr would be an exception since he is an Oregon boy who does know a lot of forestry. And over time peoples’ opinions have evolved, if only that despite proclamations otherwise, many are privately disturbed about the impact of some fires. Lou Gold is another example of someone who really changed gears on this over the years, there are others too. After all, a lot of projects looked pretty good, not nearly the ground impacts people feared. Left most of the big trees etc etc.

                    • greg: Your impressions and mine are significantly different regarding Andy Kerr. Yes, he is an Oregon boy that grew up a few miles from where I now live. I have followed his career from the beginning, including a fire-and-brimstone speech he gave to one of my college classes about 25 years ago, in which he flat out told lies about “them” and “they” at several junctures just to make his points. His main illustration was a nice photograph (about 20″ x 30″) of Mt. Hood that had wispy clouds across some of its surface. He claimed to have done some “research” and “discovered” that the clouds had been drawn in at locations where “they” were hiding clearcuts! What a bunch of crap. I think his public nadir was when, after taking a major role in reducing timber harvests in the PNW — which resulted in the economic devastation of his own hometown and many other rural timber producing Oregon communities — he moved into a fancy log home in eastern Oregon. The man is a hypocrite and will jump from issue to issue and position to position in order to keep his name in the paper and money in the bank. This is not just my position, but is held by many others and can be readily documented.

                      I know you value a good education highly (I took nearly twice as long to get through graduate school as you did), but Kerr has a High School diploma and a long history of self-centered “causes.” I don’t trust the guy or anything he says for lots of good reasons. He’s an opportunist, clear and simple, with no apparent thought or concern with how his actions might affect his own neighbors or community. That opinion is based on his own statements and writings and those who have been subjected to or affected by his words and actions.

                    • that all may be true, but as with many of us, in his old age he hungers for credibility. His current raps on thinning are good, certainly some of the best in his camp. But I was gone from Oregon from 87-97 so missed much of the conflict he played such a role in then,

                    • He has always hungered for “credibility” — also, and apparently foremost, public attention and money. The record is clear. The recent teaming with a single eastern Oregon sawmill owner and Wyden to produce favorable national legislation for the sawmill owner is just the most recent example. His “causes” have been all over the forest management and ranching community maps — whatever gets public attention and a paycheck seems to be his guiding lights. The deceptive speech he gave was in 1989 or 1990; I heard another at a student conference at the Malheur wildlife preserve in SE Oregon a few years later. Quite the showman. And blatantly dishonest and opportunistic. Those opinions are held by many, just not my own jaundiced viewpoint of the man and his “career.” You could look it up.

                    • How tragic that I seem to go through life thinking better of people, this naivete is now often tempered by conniving Hanoi bus conductors and motorcyle taxis who lust after my money with a big smile. But I will probably die like that, most people are pretty good, even when they overcharge me. And like a dog, I only want to be liked…..here I am in Hanoi surrounded by people taking an interest in my welfare even as they pretend to ignore me. I guess my hippie values will get me through a lot of bad moments knowing that there are people on the other end of some mess waiting to extend a hand.

                      And in the midday heat which i never learn to stay out of, crabby and crawling, the working class in their ratty dive by bus station gestured me over to sit with them. And good they did, a bowl of noodle soup, and a cold Bia Ha Noi, and good company. I have decided that whenever the dirtier types wave me over, I am taking the invitation. They carry themselves with such pride and so darn happy to have me with them.

            • do black backed woodpeckers only use fire killed snags? Plenty of other snags out there in E oregon with all the bug kill. I can see how important that critter may be for creating snag habitat for other creatures, if Hanson is correct in what he says. From what I gather, they do only go after fire killed snags which seems a bit odd. Why? Different insect prey feed on fire killed trees i guess.

              In Oregon we saw a lot of really hot fires which our friends over the border in the Bay area did not get to enjoy. Now they can decide how they like hillsides of dead trees. I have seen too many of them myself. Sentimental I know, and Hanson has valid points but his aversion to any kind of management is hard to stomach.. I much prefer Franklin who has also written on this and does not have the same ax to grind again and again.

              That said, I can disagree with Chad and still respect the man. After all, he earned his doctorate meaning he did the work, I would rather argue with an encyclopedia like him than a religious nut making the same argument. I went to a couple of conference sessions with him expecting to debate and flatten him and came away more impressed than I intended. That is saying a lot.

              • I tend to think that the random snag or small bug patch will sustain some birds who are “inbetween fires”, at the moment. It’s pretty obvious that they prefer the “smorgasboard” of a moderate-sized fire. I completely see the value of having snags on the landscape but, they need to be “managed for resource benefits”, meaning using site specific science. If habitat alone determined occupancy, then our entire western continent would be well-stocked with BBW’s.

              • Greg….here’s some “new” research out of the Black Hills regarding black backed woodpeckers using MPB killed trees as much as burned trees. Evidently there is also research out there that says not. I do find it ironic that they want to list the BBW at the same time the amount of MPB snag habitat in the inland west is skyrocketing…most likely the most in the last 100 years.

                http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2008_bonnot_t001.pdf

          • In the time between 1985 and 1955, the BBW’s had no protections, as snags were not seen as being necessary for wildlife. Since then, vast amounts of snags were being left. expressly for wildlife. Some seem to feel that only burned old growth stands will do as BBW habitat. Here in California, there is no lack of old growth, with 30 YEARS of protections behind it. Obviously, some people don’t care if rare habitat burns, despite the “good intentions” of the Endangered Species Act. The Rim Fire is yet another example of how the Act does not protect species from catastrophic wildfires.

    • This link
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/officials-say-yosemite-fire-unlikely-to-cause-disruptions-at-sf-bay-areas-chief-water-source/2013/08/27/8df504b6-0ed3-11e3-a2b3-5e107edf9897_story.html
      Illustrates the tradeoffs. Mr. Hanson is quoted as saying “”the Rim Fire is a good thing ecologically,” Hanson said. “This is not destruction, this is ecological restoration.”” but others in the same article point out what Mr. Hanson implicitly deems to be acceptable loss.

      “Scientists also expect the impact on wildlife to be severe. The fire has encompassed nearly the entire migratory range of deer in the region, and the burning treetops likely displaced many of the remaining 300 members of a subset of Great Gray Owl along the Yosemite border, said Daniel Applebee of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”

      “The fire also cut through habitat of the Pacific fisher, a weasel-like animal that is listed for state and federal protections. The fire has fragmented its range, likely leaving it nowhere to expand, Applebee said.”

      So, it would appear that Mr. Hanson is not adverse to selective use of facts and oversimplification in order to justify large catastrophic fires.

  9. 1) The article in the opening post and the comments taken together illustrate to me the foolishness of the haphazard, random, self contradicting approach advocated by the let nature have her way crowd. Larry’s last comment above and others demonstrate the self contradicting nature of this approach.

    2) The citizens of the US nor the timberlands industry have no need for any USFS timber. So the intensive forest management practiced on industrial timberlands serves a valuable function in that it leaves the USFS, USFWS, and all of the microscope level environmentalists to fight it out and play god in balancing the millions of ecosystem tradeoffs of any activity on any federal acreage. I wish you success but I believed that you are doomed to failure once you do anything contrary to maintaining the health/vigor of the keystone species in the forest ecosystem. Obviously, this last statement does not preclude set asides for biodiversity and special interest areas. But it does not include set asides for random 300 square mile (Rim Fire) short term BBW habitat areas as Larry says. It also does not include special treatment for the NSO which is endangered not by man but by its own relative in the natural process of evolution.

    However, the passion of all involved dictates the need to find a way for all of us to who love the forests and their components to draw closer rather than further apart. Consider the following:

    3) So, given the above and given the fact that everyone on this blog is an environmentalist and given the fact that the taxpayer isn’t going to increase the USFS budget, how do we proceed from here?
    — a) Nature only = USFS is downsized with only a few researchers and a very large seasonal fire fighting component.
    — b) Ecological Forest Management at the micro scale = “3-a” plus a whole lot more research people and a significant staff to supervise the implementation of staff ‘ologist’ research including logging but only as approved by staff and an overseeing body of environmental groups.
    — c) Pragmatic Compromise = Break the USFS land into two or more components
    —- i) Biodiversity Areas = “3-b” areas with significant biodiversity concerns especially where deemed essential for adaptability to climate change. Turn this over to a research arm of the USFS or to the National Park Service (wilderness areas and roadless areas) as deemed organizationally appropriate. As approved by staff and an overseeing body of environmental groups.
    —- ii) Sustained Forest Management = Modified area regulation by Forest Type which, where practical and appropriate, surrounds Biodiversity Areas in an effort to minimize their risk of loss due to catastrophic events. Sound Forest Management (must meet independent audit requirements and BMPs) which is not subject to question by outside groups. Proceeds used as dictated by congress.
    — d) I see no need in considering truly Intensive Forest Management as that would be an outgrowth of “3-c-ii” if and only experience with “3-c-ii” showed that it provided a significant net benefit to the total federal lands management cause.

  10. There is no, “let nature have her way crowd,” just as there is no homogenous notion of what constitutes being an environmentalist. This is self evident, as the term is loaded and often used as a slur.

    “given the fact that everyone on this blog is an environmentalist ”
    Laughably, it sounds like you’re claiming the term is as clear as, (however false, the Bush ultimatum…) “either with us or against us” dictate.

    There are instead, a full spectrum of usages of the term “environmentalist” which span between throwaway phrases of slickly-produced corporate greenwashing, to repeated acts of civil disobedience leading to jail time and personal harm in demonstration of one’s personally-held principles.

    “Collaboration” is pointless if it is a compromise resulting in a model made to exploit profits made from treating the effects of a problem, instead of a model which identifies and eliminates the causes of the environmental problem.

    Environmentalism has no meaningful purpose if its goal is to treat the effects of Disaster Capitalism rather than Disaster capitalism itself.

    The urgency and scale of the environmental conundrums we face demands no time be wasted on half-measures meant to maintain business as usual.

  11. David

    Re: “Collaboration” is pointless if it is a compromise resulting in a model made to exploit profits made from treating the effects of a problem, instead of a model which identifies and eliminates the causes of the environmental problem.”
    –> What if those profits result from sound forestry applied to acreages where there are no significant biodiversity/environmental concerns? What if those profits are used to ‘identify and eliminate the causes of the environmental problem’ when there is no other funding available to do so? If things are so urgent, then collaboration might be the fastest way to get to the end goal, that we all share, of doing what is best for the environment on USFS lands.

    Re: “The urgency and scale of the environmental conundrums we face demands no time be wasted on half-measures meant to maintain business as usual.”
    –> Sorry to burst your bubble but there is no communist conspiracy to “maintain business as usual”. Some of us recognize that USFS harvests aren’t really needed. Timberland companies don’t want the competition and can provide all of the wood needed leaving the USFS lands free to be managed in a way that isn’t pressured by the need to produce a product. What some of us professional foresters (who have dedicated our lives to understanding the established science of sound forestry tempered by experience at less than glorious salaries) want is to make things better environmentally by utilizing sound forest management which includes doing nothing where slopes and certain environmental needs dictate.
    –> Please be specific as to the environmental conundrums, their priorities (relative urgency), the programs necessary to address them, who is qualified to judge between all of the conflicting opinions and address the sources of any funding needs. If you can’t envision a plan of action then you really have no business shooting down other people’s plans.
    –> I just spent 10 or more hours straight on PopVox communicating my thoughts to my senators and representative on close to 100 bills. The taxpayers aren’t interested in increasing spending. The only question is how much spending will be cut. There are bills ranging from 1% a year until spending is reduced to 16% of GDP to bills for 5%, 8.5%, 10% and 15% reductions over the next two years excluding defense and homeland security.
    –> Shooting for the moon isn’t going to work especially well when fighting wildfire consumes over 50% of the USFS budget and there are bills on the table to do what it takes to get those numbers down.
    –> Look at figure 3 and my comment just below the opening post at https://ncfp.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/fighting-back-fire-from-the-denver-post/ to see what reduced harvest levels has done to allow fuels buildup and significantly increase total acres lost to wildfires since around 1993. Chicken Little over reacted and made a big mess because he didn’t know what he was talking about when he cut harvesting on USFS lands by 80%.

    • Gil,
      You state ‘there is no communist conspiracy to “maintain business as usual”’ In that, we are at least in partial agreement. It is actually, a neoliberal conspiracy of free market fundamentalists responsible for destroying our national economy. Their goal through collaboration is to maintain business as usual by profiting off of Disaster Capitalism. A closer look at the principals of Disaster Capitalism is in order.

      I’m intimately familiar with what passes for “collaboration,” having devoted several hundred hours and several thousand dollars over 5 years researching, attending, and traveling to the Tongass Futures Roundtable’s (TFR’s) hopscotch venues across Southeast Alaska, from Seattle to Juneau and beyond. I have read extensively of other national venues of collaboration within and across the NFS the principals are quite familiar.

      TFR (now defunct), was directed and co-controlled by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), (a most curious “environmental” nonprofit with assets, last time I checked, of around 5.6 Billion dollar$). TNC’s financial shenanigans granting sweet real estate deals (from supposed conservation land trusts) to some cherished donor-members warranted Congressional investigation in 2003 covered in the Washington Post, and which led to discoveries most unbecoming of an environmental nonprofit. TNC, of course, is widely recognized as a corporate front group funded by the worst of the worst corporate recidivist environmental criminals such as BP, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, etc.,etc, etc– all who have a great deal of monetary interests and assets in maintaining business as usual.

      So what interests do all these multi-national criminals have in collaboration? Indulge me if you will with this little snapshot.

      TFR was also funded and co-controlled by the National Forest Foundation, (whose Vice Chair, Craig Barrett, was former Chairman of the Board of Intel Corporation). Speaking of Intel Corporation, another significant funder of the environmental groups in attendance at the TFR was the co-founder of Intel, the multibillionaire Gordon Moore. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has, as their President, Steven J. McCormick, former CEO of TNC. The current CEO of TNC is Mark Tercek, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs.

      Another Goldman Sachs alumni and former TNC board Chairman worthy of note is former Secretary of Treasury, Hank Paulson. Prior to that Treasury post, Hank had to divest and resign as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. You may recall it was Secretary Hank himself whose steady hand was at the helm when our national ship of state was permanently wrecked on the deregulated “free market” shores of neoliberal macroeconomic policy.

      “In April 2007, he delivered an upbeat assessment of the economy, saying growth was healthy and the housing market was nearing a turnaround. “All the signs I look at” show “the housing market is at or near the bottom,” Paulson said in a speech to a business group in New York. The U.S. economy is “very healthy” and “robust,” Paulson said.”(wiki)

      “The Goldman Sachs benefit from the AIG bailout was recently estimated as US$12.9 billion and GS was the largest recipient of the public funds” (wiki)

      Here’s a link to a (now dated) list of Goldman Sachs alumni in the Obama Administration http://prof77.wordpress.com/politics/an-updated-list-of-goldman-sachs-ties-to-the-obama-government-including-elena-kagan/

      So given the incestuous nature of these multi-national, multi-billionaire nonprofits and their criminal collaborationists, it is not surprising they have significant interests in both maintaining business as usual, and controlling how multinational and national businesses will be required to mollify the horrified, preyed-upon ranks formerly occupying America’s permanently threatened and endangered Middle Class.

      Hopefully, you can surmise the plan of action already taking place across America as more and more of the citizenry awake to the perpetrators of our incipient NFS and larger national demise (mirroring the demise of the USSR.)

      Now to a few of your points:

      The tone of your response, (“I hate to burst your bubble,” “you have no business shooting down other people’s plans”,”Chicken Little over reacted and made a big mess because he didn’t know what he was talking about”) and your other dictates as to what the boundaries of collaboration are, resonates with and validates completely, my experience of “collaboration.”

      Failure to identify the causative economic factors and players behind our panoply of global and national socio-economic and environmental disasters is precisely the issue here.

      True collaboration can only be achieved when there is full agreement on what the problem actually is and how to address it. America has lost its basic constitutional protections and has become the militarized police and surveillance state it is, precisely because of the threat of true collaboration as We the People recognize where the actual problem lies: we are now a fully captured corporatist state.

      After all, if America had an ethical economic policy we would not be forced to “collaborate” in the care and feeding of Disaster Capitalism as practiced on public lands.

      Indeed, if we had an ethical economic policy, we would not even need environmentalists.

  12. David

    I guess that I just don’t see things as black and white as you do. I do agree that there are a lot of investment bankers and financiers that should have lost all of their wealth for the criminal deeds that were encouraged by Frank and Dodd.

    I really don’t see any difference between my tone and yours. Forgive my frustration, I am working on trying not to let it show but …

    Appreciate your input on TNC, I had read some good press on them but obviously I haven’t read everything.

    So is it all hopeless? Do we just pass our time until we kick the bucket? What is one concrete thing that we can try to do to make things better for the environment without making things worse for the environment? I claim that certain positions taken by environmental groups is actually counter productive to improving our environment. I have outlined my positions many times and been misunderstood many times here on this blog because I actually believe that some degree of logging is constructive. That word logging totally shuts down the brains of some as they immediately associate me with some “neoliberal conspiracy of free market fundamentalists responsible for destroying our national economy” or whatever panic threshold they have about logging.

    I am fully retired. I am not dependent on pleasing anyone in order to maintain my standard of living. I love the forests and all that they contain more than any other non-human entity on the earth. I don’t believe that we should even come close to irreparably fouling our nest but I also accept evolution and survival of the fittest. I accept some fouling of our nest as a consequence of living. Based on my experience as a professional forester with training on everything from soils to wildlife management, I see both the micromanagement and nature only approaches of some environmental groups as having a net detrimental impact due to their impracticality in terms of mankind’s willingness to fund them and their insufficient knowledge. I believe that a marriage of sound forest management (encompassing much more than just logging) with the environmental concerns of our our day will lead to a net positive. We don’t have to cave in to industry, if that is your fear, we just have to use them to buy some products from us so that we can use the proceeds to improve our environment. What is wrong with that?

    • Gil,

      I’ve been following along with the exchange between you and David and it has been really interesting to track how you are both approaching the “realities” that are before us all. Gil, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your efforts in attempting to find some kind of pathway forward. I often read David’ very eloquent writing and I tend to agree with him at the most macro-level. Not to get all Marxist here, but the capitalist mode of production does ultimately tend toward turning everything into a “commodity”, thereby alienating us from nature and from each other in such a way that allows for the exploitation of nature and other humans, and I think this is what David is trying to express. But the question still remains, as you say Gil, OK, now what? How do we proceed from here?

      If this were the mid 20th century, I would have advocated for a full on rebellion against the “man” (being a euphemism for the corporate capitalist consumed by the illusions of material wealth as a pathway toward greater happiness). But in doing so, I would have naively believed that force pitted against force could/would force change (which it cannot). The 50th anniversary of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech recently passed by and I was reminded of one of MLK’s most famous quotes. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do this.” Perhaps MLK knew then that we all need to fundamentally change the form of our dialogue before we can change the content.

      The truth, as I see it and I believe David would agree, is that the capitalist framework that we’ve created does not care about humans or any living creatures outside the market place. In other words, that which cannot be monetized, commodified, and sold for a profit does not have value (or at most an indirect benefit for business through some philanthropic program that “values kids” or “trees” or some such). But again, as Gil writes, where does this leave us? What do we here on this blog and elsewhere do now?

      Ironically, the globalization of the world economy under the capitalist framework requires those of us who wish to bring about real change for the better to engage more fully than ever in efforts to shift the quality of our dialogue as a means of affecting decisions that have real-life impacts. We must communicate in ways that speak to our underlying values/interests, rather than the positions that flow from those values. The “system”, as it were, does not have “values” or “interests” in the most human centered sense. It therefore cannot respond to real and true human centered dialogue. It will, however, exploit the fears and and distrust that grow when we see ourselves as pitted against each other, and we need not look further than the major news networks or our national politics to see this playing out…

      Coming full circle, therefore, I applaud your perseverance in finding some kind of way to move forward together Gil. All change and transformation starts from within, and the first step is the let go our need to be “right” (because we all know “I” am) and start following a path that is less about “me” and more about “us”. Gil, you said, “[w]hat is one concrete thing that we can try to do to make things better for the environment without making things worse for the environment?”. Excellent question. I agree that we need to look at one thing we can do together that creates real, positive change on the ground. It won’t be perfect or ideal but what is the realistic alternative? Isn’t figuring things out together the essence of what makes us human? Or have we become so alienated from each other at this point that we’ve forgotten this?

      My sense, given the number of very imperfect collaborations around the west (that are indeed at least partially feeding the “machine”), is that not everyone has given up on at least trying to form a more perfect union. This is particularly noteworthy given this day and age filled with hyperbole designed specifically to maintain the “us against them” mentality. Indeed, a system designed to exploit human relations at least as much as it exploits natural resources will thrive as long as we are all divided in our positions, never seeing the common interests we may share. Gil, you later say that “[w]e don’t have to cave in to industry, if that is your fear, we just have to use them to buy some products from us so that we can use the proceeds to improve our environment. What is wrong with that?” This is a good start. Maybe eventually we can all talk about why we give a dam in the first place…:)

      Mike

      • Mike

        You are a refreshing breath of fresh air. I greatly value your ability to disagree without inflaming the opposition which strangely enough allows us to move beyond chest beating towards real solutions rather than endless prattle.

        Being a scientific method based problem solver, I have a great deal of trouble with those who are ok with holding points of views that, to me, appear to be based on internally inconsistent logic. With an open mind and with a desire to understand whether they are right and I am wrong, my persistence in pointing out those inconsistencies can unsettle those who believe just because they believe. As one focused on efficiency, I have trouble accepting endless gum beating.

        Re: “Not to get all Marxist here, but the capitalist mode of production does ultimately tend toward turning everything into a “commodity”, thereby alienating us from nature and from each other in such a way that allows for the exploitation of nature and other humans, and I think this is what David is trying to express”
        –> We disagree here but that is ok. “alienating us from nature and from each other” is what we do best. It is our nature. I don’t see where communism or any other system of governance has done a better job than that framed by the constitution. The point is that the nature of mankind is evil. Genghis Khan still exists and the inhumanities of mankind towards his fellow mankind has not changed since time began. The only difference is in the tools used. I see no way to change it except to put us on mind altering drugs and take away all our freedom except for the freedom of those who would control such a system.
        Utopia is going to have to wait for heaven. As a Greek philosopher said “who guards the guardians?” Growing up in Virginia, I learned about the decision at Jamestown in the 1600’s to not pool everyone’s earnings but, instead, to allow freedom and allow each person to receive the fruits of their own labor. We have strayed from that and by rejecting survival of the fittest, we are discouraging motivation, increasing dependency, raising poorly educated children, loosing our freedoms and building an unsustainable house of cards that will fall. in the end more people will be hurt than if survival of the fittest had been allowed to go forward. “Give me liberty or give me death”. We have forgotten the misery that comes with slavery to oppressive government that our ancestors shed blood to gain freedom from. We have failed to remember history and are doomed to repeat it. (Speech # 206598.3 by Gil DeHuff) 🙂

        Re: “The truth, as I see it and I believe David would agree, is that the capitalist framework that we’ve created does not care about humans or any living creatures outside the market place. In other words, that which cannot be monetized, commodified, and sold for a profit does not have value”
        –> Institutions, by definition, can not care about anything. It doesn’t matter whether it is a government or a company. Only people can care about people. A government can not decide who is worthy of help. Our neighbors, friends and family are the only ones who know if we genuinely need help or are just slackards. It is not the role of the government to play God and remove pain and suffering and provide us with eternal life though tax funded free medical services that cost us our freedom to spend our money as we see fit and suffer the consequences accordingly.
        Again, it goes back to do we believe in evolution or not. Survival of the fittest is a natural extension of evolution, although, I do understand that there are those who disagree. If you have insufficient endearing qualities to engender the desire in others around you to help you, then you pay the consequences. If they care for you to the point where they are destroyed then they pay the consequences on earth but, some of us believe, will be richly rewarded in heaven.

        Re: “Maybe eventually we can all talk about why we give a dam in the first place…:)”
        –> Everyone needs a reason for being. For some it is greed and power, some find it in one or more of the four types of love as defined in the old Greek language, some find it in self gratification in various forms of recreation, and some find the greatest joy when they get a warm fuzzy feeling that God is pleased with what they have done or are “surprised by joy” when they believe that they have seen God at work.
        I care about the environment because I love the dynamics of the forest and believe that there is a middle ground. I am sure that many disagree with me, but please respect my right to say that I believe in a God who has put each of us here to see what we are made of and has given us free will (freedom). I believe that He put us here to be husbands of nature rather than bystanders. I believe that He will judge us according to our motives rather than our actions. When our motives are as good as God knows we are chemically capable of, screwing up on earth is ok because in the end, eternal life is the only meaningful goal and therefore the best reason for being.

        • Darn! I knew I was running a risk by bringing up the Marxist stuff…:) The risk of doing so is that most of the time people assume that because I believe Marx had it right in his analysis of capitalism that he also had it right in his proposed solution. You say, “Institutions, by definition, can not care about anything. It doesn’t matter whether it is a government or a company. Only people can care about people.”. I agree completely, which is why I am very much in favor of people coming together to figure things out. But interestingly, my faith in humanity stems from my belief that “human nature” is fundamentally good, rather than evil as you believe Gil. Like you, I am comfortable with our disagreement here, but I would also suggest we may both share a libertarian streak as well. Mine is perhaps ore tempered by the need to protect public interests and shared resources through regulation, but I do think humans are capable of amazingly good things when they have the chance to do so and the courage to move beyond their cynicism.

          You say, “I care about the environment because I love the dynamics of the forest and believe that there is a middle ground. I am sure that many disagree with me, but please respect my right to say that I believe in a God who has put each of us here to see what we are made of and has given us free will (freedom).” While I might use different language, I think belief systems share some common ground for sure. The point of our brief lives here, in my view, is to see how far we can move ourselves toward the best of what we can become. Most of us already know the alternative quite well, cynicism and distrust that just leads us to small thinking and small lives.

          Do people do horrible things to each other and the environment? Yes, absolutely, and corporate capitalism has done a lot to reenforce the notion that humans are fundamentally self-centered and manipulative (in my view). Given this, I can completely understand David and others who are disgusted with our overall condition. But to say as you do Gil that this is just human nature at work discounts the many many ways that people do good things for others every day as well, the vast majority of which go unnoticed and/or unreported.

          One of my favorite expressions come from Anais Nin, “We don’t things as they are, we see things as we are.” It stands to reason, if you believe this expression, that we first change who were are from the inside out and then stay alert to see all of the good that is still possible. Perhaps this is where our paths cross Gil, even if we get here form differing view points to start with…

  13. Hi folks! First time I’ve posted here and have to say this is a remarkable discussion site. What a relief to find a place on the net where I don’t have to suffer comments from folks who appear to find their comments out of a hat, and worse.

    I have not come up to speed yet on the research regarding the western Sierran forests, but Chad pretty much detailed most of what I’ve been thinking. My concern is that with all this past fire suppression rhetoric, the ecosystem I deal with, the chaparral (which dominates the four southern California National Forests), will fall victim to land management projects tailored to mixed-conifer systems, not native shrublands.

    But more to the topic at hand, here’s an essay we posted on our Facebook page concerning the Rim Fire. I be interested in your input.
    The link will allow you to see the full photo album:
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151904809031018.1073741831.114672246017&type=1&l=72a175928f

    “Contrary to much of the commentary about the Rim Fire, the event was more about climate than the impact of past fire suppression activities. While past fire suppression has contributed to increasing the “fuel load” in some areas, the diversity of the burned landscape, logging practices, record low fuel moistures, and the worst drought in 100 years contradict the simplistic notion that past fire suppression was the main factor causing this fire to become as large and behave the way it did.

    Most of what burned is on the Stanislaus National Forest and it has been “entered,” as the foresters like to say, many times. Much of the forests on the periphery are a tangled mass of even-age secondary forest due to past logging practices. It is questionable whether prescription burns would have altered the course of this fire. These secondary forests are such a mess that typically prescribed burns are done under such poor burning conditions for containment purposes that they don’t seem to alter fuels much. More importantly there were plenty of clear cuts within the perimeter of the fire and these extreme ‘fuel treatments’ did little to alter the course of the fire (see photo of northwestern portion of the fire).

    The “cause” of this fire can be largely ascribed to extreme drought. The palmer drought severity index for the Sierra Nevada for the last 20 months is matched by only one other drought in the last 100 years and for the last 6 months we are in the worse drought experienced in over 100 years.”

    • Actually, MOST of the Tuolumne River canyon has been untouched by foresters, due to terrain and vegetation. Regardless of ignition source, the canyon was due for a large wildfire. I have been predicting a foothill-to-summit wildfire for many years now, in the Sierra Nevada, and this fire will probably burn as high up and the granite will allow it to. Much of the canyon will only grow chaparral, as soils have been burned, at high intensity, over and over and over again. Yes, it is a “natural” thing. Mi Wuk Indians knew the canyon was dangerous, and didn’t establish many settlements within the canyon. Yes, there WAS old growth in the upper tributaries but, it has either been logged, or burned, now. It will take great investment and commitment to re-establish old growth, as the Indians did, over thousands of years. My personal history with this area goes back to 1971, when I took a field trip, in 8th grade, seeing the destruction of the Granite Fire.

      This situation is similar to the Foresta area, where majestic old growth has been turned into thick brush in lass than 30 years. Being inside Yosemite, we won’t be planting new pines, preventing “recovery” for many decades. Additionally, soils damages also impact the recovery of these pine forests.

      Certainly, 400 year old sugar pines have endured worse droughts than this current one. Trees that old do not get this big and old without help from humans. Should we give up on “growing” big trees, in favor of letting whatever happens, happen? I really doubt that there will be a lack of chaparral, in the Sierra Nevada.

  14. Hi Folks. Giving this a second try as this is my first post here. My original disappeared for some reason. Wonderful discussion space!

    Although I am not a forestry expert, I have been growing deeply concerning over the fear and hype that Chad mentions in his article. We posted the following on the Chaparral Institute’s Facebook page concerning the Rim Fire. I appreciate your perspective:

    “Contrary to much of the commentary about the Rim Fire, the event was more about climate than the impact of past fire suppression activities. While past fire suppression has contributed to increasing the “fuel load” in some areas, the diversity of the burned landscape, logging practices, record low fuel moistures, and the worst drought in 100 years contradict the simplistic notion that past fire suppression was the main factor causing this fire to become as large and behave the way it did.

    Most of what burned is on the Stanislaus National Forest and it has been “entered,” as the foresters like to say, many times. Much of the forests on the periphery are a tangled mass of even-age secondary forest due to past logging practices. It is questionable whether prescription burns would have altered the course of this fire. These secondary forests are such a mess that typically prescribed burns are done under such poor burning conditions for containment purposes that they don’t seem to alter fuels much. More importantly there were plenty of clear cuts within the perimeter of the fire and these extreme ‘fuel treatments’ did little to alter the course of the fire (see photo of northwestern portion of the fire).

    The “cause” of this fire can be largely ascribed to extreme drought. The palmer drought severity index for the Sierra Nevada for the last 20 months is matched by only one other drought in the last 100 years and for the last 6 months we are in the worse drought experienced in over 100 years.”

    • Dear Chaparralian…
      welcome to the blog!

      I don’t know if you follow the climate change literature, but the signal for climate change in extreme events of all kinds has been debated- the relationship between heat and drought seems to be complex and there are different ways of calculating drought.
      You might take a look at this…http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2012/09/drought-and-climate-change.html

      Larry probably has some photos to show what the stands looked like… but I don’t understand what is a “secondary forest” and why that would be a “mess”? We have observed Sierra forests with logging in the past and some that weren’t logged for various reasons. They seem to grow the same kinds of trees in the same kinds of slope/aspect/soils or seed source…not sure what characteristic makes them different, or a “mess.”

      It could be that prescribed burning doesn’t work.

      But Safford says in the Huff Post article:

      The Rim Fire’s exponential growth slowed only after hitting areas that had burned in the past two decades, and Safford says that shows the utility of prescribed and natural burns that clear brush and allow wildfires to move rapidly without killing trees.

      “If you look at the Sierra Nevada as a whole, by far the largest portion hasn’t seen a fire since the 1910s and 1920s, which is very unnatural,” said Safford, who has authored several papers on the increasing wildlife severity across California’s mountain ranges. “This one isn’t stopping for a while.”

      Since a 1988 fire impacted nearly one third of Yellowstone National Park, forestry officials have begun rethinking suppression policies. Yosemite has adopted an aggressive plan of prescribed burns while allowing backcountry fires caused by lightning strikes to burn unimpeded as long as they don’t threaten park facilities.

      “Yosemite is one of the biggest experimental landscapes for prescribed fire and it’s going to pay off,” Safford said. “The Rim Fire is starting to hit all those old fire scars.”

      I guess someone could ask the Incident Commander and other fires staff how the different vegetation conditions of recent fire use fires, prescribed fires, or clearcuts affected suppression activities. In fact, since the attribution has gotten to be such a big deal in the press, it seems like it would be a public service to do so. I wonder how we might arrange that?

    • Although I am more of a timber guy, I do see value in “managing” some lands, more or less, as permanent chaparral. It is, pretty much, inevitable that some lands will resist attempts to turn them from chaparral, into “forests”. It wouldn’t be difficult to set such areas “aside”, if they meet certain criteria. I doubt that any of us here have some kind of an idea how to create and maintain less-flammable chaparral zones, using any and all methods. Of course, many brushy areas are a “smorgasboard” of brush species, all in competition for absolute dominance. If you hinder one, a competitor fills the void.

      You’re probably an excellent resource to consult but, just one opinion, among many. That opinion should be given proper weight, especially in those SoCal Forests (where I do have good experience). In my career, I have always reached out to our Forest Service “Ologists”, instead of confronting them. Yes, I had to overcome an anti-timber bias, at times. Being objective and apolitical has served me well in dealing with scientists.

    • Chaparral

      Welcome aboard

      Sharon’s link below speaks well to the climate issues

      IMHO: I am convinced that past logging practices are not a significant contributor to the problem. Instead, as discussed endlessly in previous comments, I believe that the 80% reduction in logging activity and associated fuels reduction through thinning that occurred after 1990 is a significant contributor to the problem. My opinion is based on scientific principles that fuels reduction and reduced stand density and a patchwork quilt of stands at various ages will provide opportunities to bring fires to the ground and increase the probability of stopping them when appropriate. If you have facts to prove me wrong, I would be very glad to see them. But I am not interested in subjective opinion deemed science because there is a chain of references that lead back to what ends up being someone’s opinion rather than documented science.

      But the biggest cause of the Rim Fire is beginning to look like it was pot growers on federal lands.

          • Not to get off on a huge tangent (which was a tongue in cheek comment on my part),but until the feds legalize pot there will always be a black market, so I wouldn’t judge too much just because CO and WA have allowed some limited exceptions….

      • I really don’t think it matters that much how it was ignited. There has been lightning in the area, at times, this summer. If it didn’t burn this year, it would have a very good chance of burning next year. Who would we blame if it was lightning caused? In today’s world, unplanned, man-caused fires happen all the time. So much so, that they should maybe considered as inevitable as lightning fires. Indeed, pretending that such fires are not an issue on public lands is shortsighted and dangerous. The canyon has been ready to burn for years. The land has suffered because we were not ready for the worst-case scenario, which appears to have happened.

        Does anyone else find it odd that the Park Service is fighting the fire, when it threatens very little? Does it matter if it was started by humans? Does it matter if the real cause is still “under investigation”?

      • Much of the land which has burned never would have been logged, it was out of the timber base and even had federal harvests remained high, most burned areas were not slated for any logging. They are often roadless, high elevation, too steep or too lightly forested for the feds to bother with. As I have stated before, the largest portion of federal harvest came from productive lands in the PNW, Alaska and N CA. Biscuit at 500,000 acres burned had less than 100,000 acres suitable for harvest even without roadless restrictions.

        Little of those productive federal NW lands have burned in last 3 decades.

        Much of the high elevation federal logging in the Rockies was done at a large economic loss and the Tongass, which used to crank out 600 million BF got back only 10 cents for every dollar spent on timber sales.

        Overall, ,across the US and even discounting the very productive forest lands in the SE, private industrial lands are usually much more productive than federal which tend to be higher elevation in the NW.

        Hardly just an ologist, I have higher degree in forest science and did many kinds of forestry work in the West including forest inventory in 5 states.

            • Thanks, greg: I thought you and nagle were the same — I like much of your perspective and the various turns your career has taken. Plus it’s nice to get occasional posts from Africa and the Far East to add to our mostly North American/mostly USFS focus! I planted trees with two or three of the original Hoedads when they were first learning how, around 1969-1970 in Sandpoint, Idaho. Can’t recall their names of course, just their attitudes and personalities — mostly buoyant. You and I may have crossed paths when I was active with the Associated Reforestation Contractors, both as an officer and as their magazine editor/writer in the early 1980s. Keep up the good work! (And I hope you’re citing Dost and Newton in your current job).

              • bob, although i kept my mouth shut about it at the time, I thought the whole self employed ruse was only that and the ARC lawsuit had a valid point, I tend not to share the delusions of any group I am with. I got enough of that being raised Catholic.

                I met you in bormann;s office, I gave a talk on biscuit at FSL in fall 2007. I saw your 360 biscuit pics and the others taken by the FS from lookouts long ago.

                Those hoedads were surely Jerry Rust, John Sundquist and Hal hartzell and maybe Ed Wemple.

                Interesting here to mull over herbicide impacts 43 years after the very heavy spray campaign in ashau valley on Lao border, the site of some of the worst fighting in the war-just south of Khe Sanh.

                Fortunately there were a lot of pics of the landscape taken by US troops at the time which give me a lot to think about concerning what was actually here before the spray. Why some areas did not recover is as yet unclear to me but most did to some extent although recovering dense triple canopy upland forest seems impossible.

      • It turns out it was a hunter with an illegal fire near the bottom of the canyon. The canyon, itself, makes wind on its own. The much cooler air from the high sierra flows down the canyon at night. During the day, the warmer air at low elevations rises and flows up the canyon. This daily fanning of the flames spreads the fires in two directions, uphill and downhill, east and west.

  15. Just released from the Forest Service:

    http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/3660/21282

    Forest Service Releases The Cause of The Rim Fire

    VALLEJO, Calif., Sept. 5, 2013 – Investigators from the U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations and Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office have determined the Rim Fire began when a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape. There is no indication the hunter was involved with illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and no marijuana cultivation sites were located near the origin of the fire. No arrests have been made at this time and the hunter’s name is being withheld pending further investigation.

    The Rim Fire began Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, on the Stanislaus National Forest near the area known as Jawbone Ridge. The fire has burned 237,341 acres and is 80 percent contained.

  16. Thanks everyone for your insightful comments regarding this topic. There’s so much, it is difficult to keep up with it all… which is a good thing. Below is what we have finally come up with in terms of our efforts to try and direct the conversation about the Rim Fire toward a more productive direction:

    Stop Blaming the US Forest Service for Wildfires

    The problem with the emphasis on past fire suppression impacts to explain the existence of large wildfires is that it unfairly lays blame on the USFS for trying to save lives and property.

    In hindsight, yes, we should have allowed more forest fires to burn, but after Great Fire of 1910 (3 million acres burned, 83 people killed), that was not a reasonable option. Instead, what needs to emphasized are a changing climate, low fuel moistures, and physical changes caused to forests due to their exploitation by private interests. Yes, fire suppression plays a part in HOW fires burn in some situations, but not WHY are start or WHY they become so large. Today, many fires are caused by humans in disturbed areas (not dense forests) and spread quickly because of the weather.

    Here’s the story that should be told about the Rim Fire. The message is applicable to some other forests as well (but not all):

    Beginning around 1870, after removing Native Americans, we hammered the western Sierra landscape with livestock that reduced the grass component significantly – hence disrupting the natural surface fire regime by eliminating smaller, low-intensity fires. Then we started logging, opening up the canopy, bringing in more light, which in turn facilitated increased forest density. Poorly managed reforestation projects to increase the timber harvest were added to the mix. To protect life and property, fire suppression followed. Now, with the climate changing, we have a flammable situation that is becoming extremely difficult to manage.

    As a consequence, large, high-severity fires in mixed-conifer and ponderosa pine forests are compromising endangered habitat. Therefore, we need to manage the landscape in a way that can help minimize such loss. This means using prescribed burns primarily, and some thinning of younger trees in specific, threatened forests – not high elevation, alpine forests, not the rain forests in the Pacific Northwest, not lodgepole pine forests in Yellowstone, and NOT native shrublands like chaparral.

    Important Points to Remember:

    1. Laying blame for wildfires on a single factor (government agencies, environmental protection laws, environmental activists, pot farmers, etc.) is unproductive and diverts attention away from developing solutions.
    2. We will never know how much or where Native Americans burned. Therefore, we cannot base our land management strategies on what we think may have happened in the past. The world has changed significantly over the last 150 years (drying climate, less water available for regeneration, invasive weeds, millions of people on the landscape). We need to develop strategies that reflect the current environment and the best science.
    3. Large fires are like earthquakes. We can’t prevent them, but we can plan communities to make them safe and can protect endangered habitats with scientifically-based fire management plans.
    4. Forest fires in themselves are an essential part of the ecology. While burned landscapes look horrible at first, they provide critical habitat to many creatures. Not all fires have the same impacts.

    • Many people here seem to want the same kinds of resilient forests. However, your information on what kinds of thinning projects you want is kind of “thin”. Of course, there is no current logging of alpine forests, in our Sierra Nevada. The Forest Service also doesn’t cut in the high elevation Sierra forests containing mountain hemlock and western white pines. There also hasn’t been any clearcutting or high-grading in those National Forests since 1993.

      What would you change about the current management of our Sierra Nevada National Forests, chaparralian?

    • Chapparalian

      Thanks for your efforts to work towards a solution – Please keep an open mind to the possibility that some of your information sources may be one sided with a commendable goal that is not served by some of their stances.

      Re: “Then we started logging, opening up the canopy, bringing in more light, which in turn facilitated increased forest density”
      –> I get the impression that you don’t understand that the cessation of 80% of the harvest on USFS lands following 1990 had more to do with the increase in density. Prior to 1990 total harvest acres burned were significantly less than since. See the second graph (Figure 3) http://ncfp.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/fighting-back-fire-from-the-denver-post/
      –> Plz understand that there is a whole lot of misinformation being spread to justify removal of sound forestry practices from our national forests with the results being counterproductive to the environment. The actions of our government in submitting to environmentalist pressures that were based on unproven theories of niche scientists rather than on the established science used by forest professionals has greatly exacerbated any global warming influence.

      Re: “We need to develop strategies that reflect the current environment and the best science.”
      –> Those strategies already exist and are called “sound forest management”. Sound forest management is based on “Best Management Practices” and is subject to independent audit to insure compliance with the best established science for the total forest ecosystem including its components (modified by local experience where there are gaps in the established science).

      • That increase in understory canopy was initiated long before cessation of federal logging in the early 90s. Federal harvest in most areas was minimal before WW2 and many of those understory trees came in before that. In more accessible lower elevation areas of central Oregon, fire suppression took hold much sooner, shortly after 1910. I am not sure about the Sierras.

        This does seem to point to the loss of cooler understory burns in the increased stand density with loss of fire that previously thinned those stands in lower and mid elevation zones. If you want to argue that more recent federal thinning of those ingrown trees might have forestalled recent hot fires, that is legit but most of those trees poking into the canopy are a lot older.

  17. I find Mr. Hanson’s “scientific” assertion that the black backed woodpecker is at risk of surviving due to a lack of snag habitat, whether in the Sierras or the Cascades of Oregon where he has also weighed in with his line of logic. Perhaps he is not aware of the most recent fire history–not “science” but facts. Since 2000, in Oregon alone, we have seen over 2,000,000 acres of forests burned in wildfires, most of that of Federal lands including Wilderness with varying degrees of mortality in Stand Replacement–ie tree killing events. I can only guess how much salvage has occurred in these fires, perhaps as much as 5%? Monitoring post fire mortality also suggests that as much as 20% of the surviving trees also die within the first 5 years–more snags.

    Interestingly Mr. Hanson does not concern himself with issues like air & water quality. Perhaps the City of San Francisco has a differing opinion on impacts of such mega fires.

    • Excellent comments, Javier! The post-fire mortality is rarely addressed by the dwindling preservationists. We need more extensive coverage of the “No Action” alternatives, to educate Judges on the consequences of salvage project delays. Indeed, it is my contention that the success of a salvage project would depend upon the utilization of the smallest diameter commercial logs (10″-16″, depending upon delay). Legal (and other activism delays) only serve to leave more small diameter flammables out in the burned landscape.

    • I I made the same point to Chad about Oregon forests, and less than 5% was salvaged on federal lands, in Biscuit it was about 1% and even with that, there were usually a huge number of snags left on the salvage units in riparian buffers etc. But much of that Oregon area also burned lightly, hardly mega fires in most areas except for Biscuit of course which was off the charts with 45% of its area in high mortality,

      Davis fire (2003) also had unusually high mortality, burned over 27,000 acres on the Deschutes with about 75% mortality but only 5% of the area had severe impacts on the soil.

      The key thing about Davis was how much old growth ponderosa was lost, I think due to the dense growth of lodgepole in the understory, most of which grew in after 1920 with fire suppression. Logging of those federal lands did not start until after WW2 so logging had little or nothing to do with changes in stand characteristics. I think this was a case where aggressive thinning of the ingrown lodgepole would have prevented the high mortality.

      It needs to be recognized that such thinning in old growth in central Oregon has more recently gained a lot of support from many enviro groups, with the exception of one which appeals anything and everything, The problem is that there is not much to be done with the thinned material which has to be piled and burned, not much market for small diameter lodgepole these days.

      • Some people support thinning only if it cuts submerchantable trees, thinking it would have “some” effect on wildfires. The same people might also not know that there are diameter limits in those parts of Oregon, to prevent high-grading. Some people only support “non-profit” thinning projects, which “thin” only trees below 10″ dbh.

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