“Timber Trouble” in Wisconsin

chequamegon-nicolet o2

Since Norman brought up Wisconsin, and I had seen this earlier, thought it would be a good time to post this.

Buried deep in Wisconsin’s northwoods is a story that warrants statewide attention.

In the coming days, the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team will bring you “Timber Trouble.”

Our three-part series focuses on the growing mistrust between the logging industry and the national forest service.

Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team reporter Nick Penzenstadler and Post-Crescent Media photojournalist William Glasheen traveled north to do the reporting, photo and video work for the “Timber Troubles” project..

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and Laona area, in Forest County, serve as ground zero for our report.

Penzenstadler and Glasheen investigated whether the timber harvests inside northern Wisconsin’s national forest are being mismanaged. As a result of smaller harvests, the number of logging jobs has plummeted. That in turn has triggered a huge decline in student enrollment for Laona schools because of a drop in the Forest County population as people have had to move elsewhere in search of work.

It’s an intensely emotional issue, said Penzenstadler, adding that it’s hard to overstate the frustration of people in the logging and timber industry in northern Wisconsin.

They’re exasperated, disheartened and discouraged.

Their way of life is at stake. Their local school districts, businesses and economy are on the brink of collapse — and it does not have to be this way.

Millions of board feet of wood could be taken out of the Chequamegon-Nicolet while still preserving important portions of the forest.

The author says it merits “statewide attention.” I would think that the situation in the Lake States and the west merits national attention. If someone finds a story, please post in a comment. Required: in national news media, looks at situation nationally.

UPDATE: Looks like the entire series, which includes articles and video, is now available on-line. -mk

185 Comments

  1. The situation sounds just like rural Oregon. I wonder what reasons are that the FS uses in Wisconsin not to sell timber?
    Maybe it is just as hard to do a NEPA document there as it is here in Oregon.

  2. Great fall picture of Wisconsin in all its glory!

    As previously mentioned, I was born and raised in the small village of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Whenever my house-painting dad could sneak away from work for an un-paid couple of days off, the family would often be packed into our Pontiac Catalina for some time “up-north” camping/hiking/biking/canoeing either on parts of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest or the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest. I also spent a few weeks hiking in the CNNF in 2004 with plant and wildlife biologist to monitor recently completely timber sales, as well as proposed timber sales.

    Having lived in Madison, WI previously and having some knowledge of the forest activist movement I have to say there is no way anyone could compare Madison to Eugene or Missoula in terms of activist energy devoted to national forest management issues. In that way, I suppose Madison and Austin would be similar. While I agree that Madison is of course a progressive, activist sort of town, almost none of that activist energy goes to national forest issues. It never has and it very likely never will. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the CNNF sits a good 3 hours (one way) north of Madison.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I wrote the lead reporter of this series last Saturday morning, when I read his series opener while checking out Sheboygan County high school football scores. Yep, I’m still that much of a Wisco Homer. As you can see, I was concerned about a lack of balance. Perhaps this isn’t a surprise, as the reporter is based in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin, which has some of the highest concentration of pulp and paper mills in the US. At one point (before the digital age and rise of China’s pulp/paper industry) 24 pulp/paper mills employed nearly 50,000 people in that part of Wisconsin. The series is set to run in print on October 20. We should post each of the articles here for discussion.

    Sent: Saturday, October 12, 2013 9:22 AM
    Subject: Wisconsin Timber Trouble series

    Hello John,

    I hope you are well. I grew up in the village of Elkhart Lake, WI (5th generation of my family to do so). I’ve lived in Missoula, MT since the mid-90s and have worked on federal national forest policy issues for nearly the past 20 years. I also fought wildfires for a summer in Oregon, have worked a few jobs doing fuel reduction around homes and spent a summer building trusses at Richardson Lumber Co in Sheboygan Falls.

    Part of those national forest policy efforts included during some monitoring and ground-truthing work on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest back around 2004. As I child I also spent a lot of time on the both the Chequamegon and Nicolot because whenever my house-painting dad could get time off work, the family was packed into the car and we tent-camped, fished, hiked, bike in many fine areas of the Chequamegon-Nicolet, as well as the Northern Highlands.

    I pretty much read the Sheboygan Press daily, on-line. This morning I was looking at some of the football scores (as I like to keep track of my friend’s kids playing for local teams) and I saw the opening article announcing your series. It certainly looks like an interesting series and from the sounds of it doing the interviews and research had a big impact on you.

    I do have to say, however, in my opinion your opening column really appears to buy into much of the timber industry rhetoric about public lands management, jobs and the timber industry. For example, I was surprised to see nothing in your opening column about the tremendous impact the ongoing Great Recession has had on the lumber and pulp/paper industry.

    I’m sure you are aware, but tens of thousands of jobs in this sector have been lost over the past 5 years in both the US and Canada because of the economic situation. Lumber consumption in the US is about 50% of what it was around 2005 and home construction is also still about 50% of what it was. One has to assume the global economic recession has impacted those Wisconsin mills that make wood flooring and wood shipping pallets.

    Paper and packaging consumption in the US is also down dramatically, both because of economic woes, but also because people are using less paper in their lives (on-line billing, on-line newspapers, etc). Also, I recall a series of articles last year about the tremendous impact the Pulp/Paper industry in China is having on the US Pulp/Paper industry. Clearly these national and international economic forces and conditions have an impact on the timber industry in N. Wisconsin, as elsewhere. For example, Canada’s timber industry is essentially given permits to heavily log extensive tracts of public forests, yet the Canadian timber industry has been hit hardest with mill closures, layoffs, etc. So it’s not like the simple solution is just to “log public lands more.”

    I also hope your full series will look at the ecological condition of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, and not just from the perspective of the timber industry. When we did our groundtruthing work on those forests in 2004, we worked closely with some Forest Service ecologists and biologists who were very concerned with what they were seeing on these public forests. One issue I certainly hope is reflected in your article is the timber industry’s conversion of the native hardwood-hemlock forests on public lands to aspen forests, largely for the benefit of the pulp/paper industry.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider my viewpoints. I will reserve judgement until I read the series. However, I have to say I was really surprised to see so much of the timber industry’s rhetoric simply repeated in your opening column, without a balanced perspective provided.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew Koehler
    Born/Raised in Elkhart Lake, WI (5th generation)
    WildWest Institute, Missoula, MT

    • Matthew

      From your letter to John Ferak:

      Re: “For example, Canada’s timber industry is essentially given permits to heavily log extensive tracts of public forests, yet the Canadian timber industry has been hit hardest with mill closures, layoffs, etc. So it’s not like the simple solution is just to “log public lands more.””
      –> You seem to have missed this from the original article: “But some Wisconsin companies are importing timber and pulp products from Canada.”
      —-> So, there is insufficient US timber available to keep Wisconsin mills running at current levels.
      —-> Have you considered that pulpmill capacities in Wisconsin could possibly be initiated in a reopened pulpmill or expanded in a pulpmill presently curtailed due to limited wood availability? In either case there would be more jobs for Wisconsin.
      —-> Is your simple solution just to keep importing Canadian timber and pulp that hasn’t been shut down and leave the timberland and pulpmill jobs in Canada?
      —-> Your letter spends three paragraphs surrendering Wisconsin jobs because the Chinese are coming or the Canadians are loosing jobs. What happened to your good old American Spirit?

      Re: “One issue I certainly hope is reflected in your article is the timber industry’s conversion of the native hardwood-hemlock forests on public lands to aspen forests, largely for the benefit of the pulp/paper industry”
      –> Is this a typo: “timber industry’s conversion of the native hardwood-hemlock forests on public lands to aspen forests”? If not, I’d sure like to see your reference.
      —-> If contractors were used by the USFS to convert lands from hardwood-hemlock to aspen for the pulp/paper industry, wouldn’t that mean that the USFS converted the lands not the timber industry? Remember that, for the most part, the timber industry is no longer vertically integrated with the wood products manufacturing industry (pulp/paper, sawmill, plywood, veneer, osb, poles and etc.).

      • Back in my certification days, I used to read audits posted on leases/permits from Canadian forests, but I can’t tell if that was a requirement. So I think they are permits to log “according to third party audited sustainable forestry standards” which might be different from “heavily” log. Does anyone know if certification to CSA is a requirement for permits?

      • –> You seem to have missed this from the original article: “But some Wisconsin companies are importing timber and pulp products from Canada.”
        —-> So, there is insufficient US timber available to keep Wisconsin mills running at current levels.
        —-> Have you considered that pulpmill capacities in Wisconsin could possibly be initiated in a reopened pulpmill or expanded in a pulpmill presently curtailed due to limited wood availability? In either case there would be more jobs for Wisconsin.
        —-> Is your simple solution just to keep importing Canadian timber and pulp that hasn’t been shut down and leave the timberland and pulpmill jobs in Canada?
        —-> Your letter spends three paragraphs surrendering Wisconsin jobs because the Chinese are coming or the Canadians are loosing jobs. What happened to your good old American Spirit?

        Hello Gil: I’d like to try and answer some of the questions you posed above about the Wisconsin pulp and paper industry.

        To do that, I’d like to direct you to an investigative series on Wisconsin’s paper industry that the state’s largest paper, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, did in December 2012. (As an aside: from 1984-87 I rode my bike around Elkhart Lake, WI and surrounding area pre-dawn 6 times a week delivering the Milwaukee Sentinel).

        Paper Cuts | A Journal Sentinel Special Report
        Wisconsin’s place in paper industry under siege
        (Click here for entire article)

        Snip from article:

        In the age of Google and the iPad, change in America’s papermaking heartland is swift, turbulent and perhaps irreversible.

        In Wisconsin, mills that produce publishing-grade paper have been closing at an average of one a year since 2006. Each shutdown means a loss of 300 to 600 jobs, in turn draining hundreds of millions of dollars from the region and creating an economic drag that rivals the days of automaker shutdowns in Michigan.

        An industry that thrived for generations on a tight, homegrown loop – from the forest to the mill to the printer and often back to the mill for recycling – finds itself at the mercy of Wall Street hedge funds and equally unforgiving global economic and political forces.

        Investors see a bleak bottom line, a world in which paper is losing its value to laptops and tablets; they aim to squeeze out profit while they can. China, meanwhile, is pouring government money into new mega-mills and machines, betting it can win by flooding the world market with low-cost paper.

        Mill workers in Wisconsin, the nation’s top papermaking state, have fought off the digital threat for years. The threat posed by China is just now becoming clear.

        The second article in the series is here: “Bankrolled and bioengineered, China supplants Wisconsin’s paper industry.”

        Here’s a snip from the article:

        At a time when Wisconsin’s paper mills were already fighting off a digital death, China has become a sudden, potent adversary – a threat even greater than the rise of laptops and the iPad.

        China came to dominate the manufacturing of electronics hardware and touch-screen technologies by marrying cheap labor with sophisticated engineering and automation – able to adopt design changes and adjust to demand shifts virtually overnight.

        In a move that has attracted far less attention, China has brought that same approach to paper
        .

        Over the course of the last decade, China tripled its paper production and in 2009 overtook the United States as the world’s biggest papermaker. It can now match the annual output of Wisconsin, America’s top papermaking state, in the span of three weeks.

        So, back to your questions Gil. I believe that these factors outlined above, and in much more details in the full articles, are the main factors impacting Wisconsin’s pulp/paper industry. I fail to see how, given these other real world economic, Wall St and political factors that “limited wood availability” even comes much into the picture. Also, while I’m in favor of some “good old American spirit” I’m not sure that matters much to those on Wall St, or the Chinese Pulp and Paper industry.

        • Matthew

          Thanks for your feedback. I am very aware of those factors and had read all of your previous links in this thread. I just don’t see any reason to raise the white flag as long as “some Wisconsin companies are importing timber and pulp products from Canada.” Jobs have to be fought for. Yes, you may lose but that is life. Quitting isn’t an option until you have a better option.

          • Hello Gil: I noticed this information in the full series, which relates to the point you highlighted that “some Wisconsin companies are importing timber and pulp products from Canada.”

            According to the article .8% (that’s less than 1%) of the wood put through Wisconsin mills comes from Canada. Here’s the actual snip:

            Roughly 87 percent of the 744 million board feet of wood put through statewide mills comes from Wisconsin trees — either public or private, according to data from the U.S. Forest Service. About 6 million board feet comes from Canada. The other 86 million of board feet comes from neighboring Michigan and Minnesota.

            Compare those facts with this quote from Wisconsin Republican Rep. Reid Ribble, in part two of the timber series:

            Wisconsin Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Sherwood says timber management sits near the top of his agenda. As a self-proclaimed anti-regulation hawk, Ribble sees the Forest Service as a prime example of a government agency hampering economic progress. “It’s a travesty that here in Wisconsin we’re importing timber from Canada while we have trees rotting and falling apart in the Chequamegon-Nicolet,” Ribble said.

            I’m not necessarily saying that .8% is insignificant, but I’m also not sure that .8% (or 6 MMBF out of 744 MMBF) is as significant as some in the timber industry, and their political supporters, want to make it out to be.

            • Matthew

              0.8% or 6mmbf is certainly nothing to get one’s bowls in an uproar over is it? Not even if the CNNF harvest was increased by 6mmbf so that it didn’t have to come from Canada. Even if it was 0% it doesn’t change my comments about not waving the white flag.

              Hopefully you will forgive me for the following gentle and well intended gibe:
              I’m glad that you explained that 0.8% was less than 1% 🙂 And I thought that you said that you were math challenged. 🙂

  3. Very interesting Matthew. Nice letter and well-written post here to. Have you heard back from the journalist?

    Sharon (or anyone), was this the entirety of the first story from the journalist? Seems like an excerpt… Is there more? I wonder if he is planning to explain more about the reasons why harvests are down from previous years. It might also be interesting to learn more about whether prior harvest were sustainable, given the multiple interests and values for which NFs were established. Is the timber harvest in decline due to litigation? Or is this a decision coming directly from the FS themselves? Just lots of questions…thanks.

    • Thank you Mike. This is not the first story in the series. The first story won’t run until October 20. Far as I can tell, what was posted here was an excerpt from the lead reporters opening opinion piece announcing the series. Yes, the reporter has written me back, basically saying that he believes the entire 3 part series will provide more balance. We shall see. However, I still think my point of a lack of balance in his opening opinion piece is valid.

      I’m not aware of very much on-going appeals/litigation on the CNNF. In a video that I viewed on-line about the series (which I also felt was unbalanced and didn’t mention once any of the real-world economic issues facing the entire US economy, not just the timber industry), the CNNF Supervisor claims they don’t have the money/resources to do more logging and that their are other values, resource issues, etc at play on the CNNF that also might be impacting logging volumes. I believe the CNNF forest plan was done in the mid-80s. So the timber volumes/goals in that plan are likely very out-of-date, just like the entire plan. I mean, lots has happened over the past 30 years, right?

  4. Thanks Matthew. I do think its important for all of us to resist the temptation to jump to conclusions when we hear about timber volumes go down or some other kind of effect. Matthew spoke to some of the reasons why timber volumes may go down in his post, but the larger point is that we live in a complex, interconnected world in which “cause and effect” are not always linear, and we are better served by staying open minded as long as possible…

    • Thank you for finding and posting the chart Andy. Keep in mind that the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest covers 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

      Based on the chart it appears that during the decade of the 2000s, the CNNF timber sale program averaged about 75 MMBF/year, with a spike of over 115 MMBF in 2001. That’s approx. 750 MMBF of trees cut in 10 years.

      During the decade of the 1990s, the CNNF timber sale program averaged 120 MMBF/year, with a spike of about 175 MMBF harvested in 1991. That’s approximately 1.2 Billion Board Feet (MMMBF) of trees cut in 10 years.

      These are hardly insignificant timber sale volumes, especially when taken in the context of other national forests around the country and also in the context of global economic realities, other national forest resources, values, etc.

      Other interesting Wisconsin Forestry fact I found from the WI DNR were:

      • Wisconsin private forest ownership accounts for 16.2 million acres, representing approx. 57% of Wisconsin’s total forests. These private parcels are generally less than 100 acres.

      • Wisconsin state owns just about 5% of the forests with the federal government owning about 10% of Wisconsin’s forests.

      • Most Wisconsin private forests produce one half or less than their potential.

      • Between 1984 and 1997 the number of private landowners increased by 20%.

      What that last figure tells me is that lots of people/families from places like Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison, Twin Cities, etc have purchased their vacation/hunting/recreation land/cabin, etc “Up North.” One has to assume that trend only continued since 1997. The end result is many more people/families owning the state’s considerable privately-owned forests.

      One also has to assume this has had a big impact on Wisconsin’s timber industry, as some of these people/families may not want logging companies to cut down their vacation/hunting/recreation private forests. Also, from just purely a logistics point of view, it would be easier for a logging company to deal with a single private forest owner and their 200 acres of forests, versus 10 private forest owners who have 20 acres of forest each.

      As Mike Wood rightfully put it above, “we live in a complex, interconnected world in which ’cause and effect’ are not always linear.”

      • “These are hardly insignificant timber sale volumes, especially when taken in the context of other national forests around the country and also in the context of global economic realities, other national forest resources, values, etc.”

        In four years on my old Ranger District (approximately 150,000 acres), we harvested 300 million board feet of dead and dying timber in four years, just for comparison’s sake. No green sales were sold during that time period. Of course, those acres don’t include archaeological sites, wildlife and botany PACs, and hydrology buffers, etc.

            • Wow, Larry. How do you figure I’m “implying that you are lying” by simply asking you for the years and the name of the Ranger District? That seems like perfectly relevant information to ask. Yes, it does matter, as you said, “just for comparison’s sake.” So, I’m curious about the comparison that you brought up. So again Larry, what were the dates of those four years? And what was the name of the national forest and ranger district? Thank you.

              • Everyone else takes this kind of information at face value. It doesn’t matter, as long as I am not lying. I don’t have to jump through your hoops, because you don’t believe me. I lived through all those four years so, I’m not lying about it. If you don’t want to believe it, go right ahead. If ANYONE else wants me to provide the information, I will gladly do it. Besides, I didn’t state my facts to convince you, Matt. I simply do not care if you are convinced. *smirk*

                • Wow, Larry. Your unwillingness to answer a very basic and simple question regarding what four years and what National Forest Ranger District you are referring to in your comparison speaks volumes.

                    • Larry, I’m just looking for more simple information about the comparison you brought up. Specifically what years and what National Forest you are referring to. I trust your numbers, but just want to learn more about the years and the NF, as that may have an impact on the comparison. My goodness.

                    • Guys! Guys! I agree with Matt. This is childish — on both sides of the table. And I agree with Larry — no need to respond to this verbal baiting. On both sides of the table.

                      (Not used to playing referee here, but I do know it is hard not to poke an opponent to get a response — but this stuff isn’t relevant or even on topic. Constantly challenging and demanding information from one another — if necessary — can certainly be accomplished with a lot better manners and more style and finesse rather than juvenile sarcasm and open disbelief. Not that I necessarily follow that advice myself on all occasions . . .)

                  • Matthew

                    Listen to yourself: “Wow, Larry. Your unwillingness to answer a very basic and simple question”

                    Kind of like the fireplace calling the kettle black. You are famous for not answering questions – How can you fault Larry for not wanting to play your game? Why don’t you tally how many questions Larry and you have refused to answer on this blog? It would be a real eye opener to you. Larry can’t touch you for evasiveness.

                  • While I am skeptical of David’s sincerity, I did promise to supply the information, if asked. He didn’t say please but, he did say “thanks”.

                    I worked on Placerville RD of the Eldorado NF, and we salvaged 90 million board feet in both 1989 and 1990. We also cut 60 million board feet in both 1991 and 1992. There was some green volume in a very old, already-existing green sale, that was mostly logged in the past (a very interesting “saga”, in its own right). We were very quick to get plans in place for the salvage, leaving litigants on the outside, looking in.

                    I’m estimating that the Placerville RD is 150,000 acres but, that also includes checkerboarded lands, and some Wilderness, as well as some ground that wasn’t really suitable, for salvage. Most of the RD’s mortality was in one salvage sale or another, or, already within an open green sale, under contract. Yes, we were extremely busy, during those years.

                    • Thanks for providing the years and name of the National Forest and ranger district. Here’s some other information to consider, just for comparisons sake. I got the following information on volume cut on the Eldorado National Forest from this official Forest Service page. The CNNF figures were obtained via the chart Andy shared above. Meanwhile, I obtained the Net Profit, or Net Loss, figures as reported in TSPIRS in this document.

                      It’s interesting to see that while the timber sale volume on Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and Eldorado National Forest were pretty similar during the 5 year period from 1989 to 1993, the CNNF timber sale program reported a net LOSS of approximately $11,000,000 while the Eldorado National Forest timber sale program reported a net PROFIT of approximately $35,000,000. That’s a difference of nearly $46 million while cutting pretty close to the same volume.

                      I assume this vast difference in economics is due to tree size, tree species, climate, over all productivity of the forest, among other factors.

                      Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Timber Sale Program
                      1989
                      155 MMBF Cut
                      $2,380,000 Net Loss as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1990
                      140 MMBF Cut
                      $2,410,000 Net Loss as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1991
                      170 MMBF Cut
                      $3,060,000 Net Loss as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1992
                      135 MMBF Cut
                      $2,850,000 Net Loss as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1993
                      125 MMBF Cut
                      $2,850,000 Net Loss as Reported in TSPIRS

                      Eldorado National Forest Timber Sale Program
                      1989
                      189 MMBF Cut
                      $5,940,000 Net Profit as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1990
                      186 MMBF Cut
                      $4,740,000 Net Profit as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1991
                      167 MMBF Cut
                      $10,080,000 Net Profit as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1992
                      144 MMBF Cut
                      $3,530,000 Net Profit as Reported in TSPIRS

                      1993
                      97 MMBF Cut
                      $10,580,000 Net Profit as Reported in TSPIRS

                    • Also, not mentioned, is the fact that the Eldorado has less than half the acreage, too! The Eldorado land base is MUCH steeper, with a substantial amount of helicopter ground, which brings down the profits quite a bit. The South Fork of the American River is up to 3000 feet deep. We had two very large helicopter salvage projects, within the watershed of that canyon. I tend to think that if the logging in Wisconsin was scaled up to the same board feet per acre, they would have actually made money. However, comparing biomass-type projects to concentrated sawlog salvage is “apples to oranges”. My point is that volumes don’t tell the whole story.

                      The point is that this quote isn’t really that true:

                      These are hardly insignificant timber sale volumes, especially when taken in the context of other national forests around the country and also in the context of global economic realities, other national forest resources, values, etc.

                      I was pointing out that we cut more dead tree volume, over much fewer acres, than your example. Yes, I cherrypicked my example, with salvage not being “business as usual”. However, I do believe that our salvage work had an actual benefit, reducing the severity of future wildfires that occurred, in later years. Oh yeah, and there were jobs. LOTS of em!

                    • Well golly Matthew, the Eldorado turned a profit those years which is a surprise. Why might that be the case? Higher log prices? Radically lower sale costs?

                      Why losses so high in MIchigan? Less volume I am sure, use of thinning vs clearcuts, etc? but why?

                      That also brings up the issue of how much the feds might gain or lose in a Rim fire salvage program ( wrong thread I know, I get them mixed up…..but we are talking sale costs here.).

                      I understand the stated fuel reduction benefits of such Rim salvage, but how likely are decent log prices with so few people to bid on it?

                      And expect an onerous EIS process dragging out the sales for a year or two.

                      Expensive…..

                    • I would also remind people of the huge costs of “Ologist” support included in those years. For archaeology, we had an army of pricey folks “pounding the ground”, looking for both prehistoric and the huge amounts of gold rush era sites, which were flagged out and avoided, on-the-fly. We also had to do wildlife and botany surveys, on-the-fly. All of those costly activities had big benefits, down the road. Additionally, they hired an army of inexperienced salvage markers. Loggers were a lot more plentiful, back then, too.

                      Log prices were much different, back then, and there were more mills and more competition. Today, SPI has a monopoly on all Federal timber, in this area. Back then, sugar pine was going for over $500 per thousand BF (peaked at $750 per 1000 BF). Today, incense cedar has higher value but, MUCH lower than pine was, back then. The Rim Fire will also only have one bidder but, there are two SPI mills in the area, one of them a small log mill.

                      Again, the salvage projects on the Eldorado didn’t have many clearcuts but, some stands were entered up to FIVE times, to get more dead trees, as they died. It drove me nuts to see dead trees as I was inspecting erosion control and slash reduction work. There was some pulpwood volume, not included in my volume figures but, some cull logs were removed and sold, going to the Port of Sacramento, to be chipped, or bought by far east companies. There was a healthy biomass market, back then. Today, fuels cost are prohibitive for utilizing biomass, especially in California.

                    • On my last project, the Power Fire, an EIS only took a few months, and it included another wildfire, on the same Forest, too. I wouldn’t plan on making a “bullet-proof” EIS that would make it through the Ninth Circuit Court. Instead, create one that makes it through the local District Court, as quickly as possible, then get as many trees felled as possible. During the District Court battle, stall and argue and present, as long as possible, to give loggers more time to get trees on the ground. The intent would be to make the salvage activities a moot point, once it makes to Appeals Court. Of course, SPI would have to bid quickly, and not argue about prices and mandates. Either they want the wood, or forget about it. I doubt they would abandon their low-balling tendencies, though, shooting themselves in the foot. Even now, the clock is ticking. I have little faith in the folks, on the Stanislaus, to do what it will take to salvage the timber in a timely manner. I think the Rim Fire will, ultimately, be a lose-lose situation, for everyone. Minimal harvest and minimal replanting, with an assured re-burn in 20-40 years.

                    • Larry

                      From Matthew’s numbers – Do you have any insight as to why the CNNF timber sales were a net loss every year while the Eldorado had a significant net profit every year with the cumulative results as follows:

                      CNNF 1989 -1993
                      MMBF 725 – Net Loss $13,550,000
                      $/MBF Loss $18.69

                      Eldorado NF 1989-1993
                      MMBF 783 – Net Profit $34,870,000
                      $/MBF Profit $44.53

                      – Were the harvests on the CNNF heavier to pulpwood than on the ENF? Isn’t it just plain silly how the USFS translates pulpwood into sawtimber mbf?
                      – Was this due to market differences?
                      – Are there accounting/reporting inconsistencies on how Net Profit/Loss is calculated on one forest versus another forest?
                      – Or was this simply because you were on the ENF? 🙂

                    • As I said when bringing up the CNNF vs Eldorado timber sale program numbers:

                      I assume this vast difference in economics is due to tree size, tree species, climate, over all productivity of the forest, among other factors.

                    • Should i assume that much of that WI wood was for pulp?

                      And how many mills were bidding on those eldorado sales in those gravy years?

                    • My understanding and recollection is that much of the CNNF wood went to: Pulp, hardwood floors, shipping pallets.

                    • There were at least 5 mills competing for sales, on the Eldorado, as well as having cull logs going to the Port of Sacramento. Only SPI remains, today, and they will certainly survive, under any scenario. their land holdings are quite extensive.

                    • Thank you, Matthew, for providing more details than found in your original assumptions.

                      You answered my question with this: “My understanding and recollection is that much of the CNNF wood went to: Pulp, hardwood floors, shipping pallets.”

        • so about 75 million/year which is not that high for Oregon west side districts but a surprise in the Sierra’s. I know nothing about that area. I can’t imagine where it might be. Just out of curiosity where is it.??

          This must have been back in the 80s? I believe it of course.

          Actually, I was quite surprised to hear how much the feds took out in MIchigan, not that I have any problem with that but things don’t grow as fast there as they do in the NW.

            • greg: Yes, it is REALLY hard to follow all of these strings, particularly when there is much interest in more than one topic at a time. The different posts should be listed with the separate comments — just like it used to, and just like the Botkin discussion still does — which makes it a whole lot easier to follow. Sharon is trying to fix this, but is at the SAF Conference this week and it has been hard to figure out what the glitch is. And, trust me, you don’t want me trying to do anything about it!

                • I think it gives us more power somehow. I do know that our moderator statistics are only a former shadow of themselves, too. Something to do with widgets and maybe acronyms, so I keep my distance. We do have a nicer looking and easier to read format, though, and I think these other problems can be resolved. Also lost some illustrations in earlier posts, so I think it’s a poco y poco kind of thing.

          • It just kind of shows us that low ASQ’s really aren’t all that “sustainable”, in the long run. I think we are ripe for yet another bark beetle boom, in the Sierra Nevada. All of the conditions are here for another massive outbreak, including the Rim Fire, which could serve as the trigger point for clouds of bark beetles, which will overrun the green forests to the north. There will be 80,000 of “protected” prime bark beetle habitat, in Yosemite. The drought conditions make the Stanislaus, the Eldorado, the Tahoe and the LTBMU vulnerable to another round of massive die-offs, just like during 1989-1992. Back then, the trigger point was the 175,000 acre 1987 Complex Fires, on the Groveland Ranger District. Can you say “deja vu”??? How can we grow old growth, when bark beetles and wildfires continue to “re-balance” forests, in ways humans (and endangered species) don’t like? The Groveland RD is “ground zero” for all of these issues. Will we not learn from the relatively-recent past? This is all a part of the “whatever happens” strategy. In this case, we have drought, a man-caused wildfire, and a coming bark beetle outbreak. No one can say this is “natural and beneficial”.

              • I fully agree that forest vigor is an important part of active forest management. We already have “protected” areas of decadent forest, and we, surely, don’t need as much of it as some people think. In the past, I have tried to apply my fuels reduction mindset to other places but, I found that it doesn’t always fit the land. I’ve worked on 26 different National Forests, in 11 States, and there are major differences. However, I do think forest vigor is a good thing, common to all the areas I have worked in. I’m a fan of restoring forests to pre-Columbian conditions, as those seem to favor resilience, which also comes with increased vigor. Opponents would rather see a “pre-man” forest, instead, which is inherently impossible, in 99% of all National Forest lands.

                • Larry – Thanks for your reply

                  Re: “I’m a fan of restoring forests to pre-Columbian conditions, as those seem to favor resilience, which also comes with increased vigor”

                  How does “restoring forests to pre-Columbian conditions” translate into policy and man’s role in managing a forest? Can you be more specific in terms of what actions would be allowed and disallowed?
                  –> Manage by regular burns?
                  –> No role for logging to moderate mother nature’s management by catastrophe?

                  What do “pre-Columbian conditions” look like and how do you know that?

                  • Here in California, we DO know what those forests looked like. Indeed, those stands had large pines, little in understory, and bearclover on the ground. VERY fire-adapted and VERY vigorous. It just goes to show that “active management” by Indians, was very effective, and long-lasting. Most of the mid-elevations of the Sierra Nevada had similarly-managed majestic old growth pine forests. Without that kind of management, you get Rim Fires. Indians observed and knew that, through thousands of years of direct experience. Today, prescribed burns cannot succeed, without fuels modifications. The flammable bearclover helps facilitate the regular burning of large acreages. The public needs to learn that today’s wildfires are rarely “natural”, or “beneficial”. We should not be “preserving fuels” or wildfires. Once forests here are “restored” to those ancient conditions, and an agressive prescribed wildfire program is instituted, wildfires will become less damaging, and more “beneficial”.

                    Other forests, in other places, would probably benefit from having active management, in growing the bigger trees that are, currently, absent from some forests. However, how can we have “pre-man” or pre-Columbian” forests, when important trees are missing? We cannot “restore” through “un management”, especially when forests were pastures or cotton fields, in recent history.

                    • Yow, Gil! Why do I feel like I’m back in college taking a written exam? OK, here goes, in regards to YOUR “environmental beliefs”:

                      1) From your perspective (and largely my own), and given the parameters you’ve given me, yes, I completely agree that the “health” of our forests should come first, although I’m probably not as enamored with “biodiversity” as I perhaps should be.

                      2) I agree with the “keystone species” concept, but probably unlike you, I consider people to be that species in almost all instances. For individual stands and subbasins I think we can safely manage for the dominant plant and animal species and for freshwater and be pretty safe so far as “biodiversity” and other concerns that might exist.

                      3) I don’t think nature “manages” anything, but I do think that natural and managed assemblages of plants and animals are indeed thrown “out of whack” by catastrophic events from time to time and that these occurrences are either mitigated by people to serve their own best interests, or repopulation takes place with resilient and opportunistic plants and animals immediately adjacent to, or within, the event’s parameters. This answer is not off the top of my head, but I think summarizes much of my thinking and research over the past several decades.

                      4) And I sincerely believe that you believe that! However, I don’t think that harvesting (unless we’re adding hunting and berry-picking, etc. — I’m assuming you are talking about logging) is an “essential requirement” to moderate catastrophic events. Wimpy, high elevation forests and Mt. St. Helen’s would be two examples. And a “balanced” spatial and temporal distribution (of trees; of forests: of species in general?) is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly, this would be a good general strategy for most private ownerships or government lands aimed toward timber (or related resource) values.

                      5) My ex-wife was from South Dakota and liked clearcuts — which she was also kind of embarrassed to admit — because you “could see the land.” I’ve hunted and fished and camped and worked in clearcuts all of my life and enjoy the wildflowers, berries, bugs, deer and fish that also seem to enjoy them. I like your surgery analysis, but would much rather be in a logged unit than a Winnebago parking lot, shopping center, or residential housing development anytime. I won’t theorize on environmentalists perspectives because I usually think they’re nuts. In my opinion.

                      6) I pretty much agree with your “realities” picture.

                      7) I think your management timeline is fine for anyone who manages their land in that fashion. I prefer a combination of long-term rotations and relatively static and historically accurate “early seral” plant assemblages, though, in concert with Larry’s “pre-Columbian” perspectives.

                      The main place I think you are “wrong,” Gil, is confusing your personal values and beliefs with mine or the general population — that makes for a very hard sell to others, even though that’s what we all pretty much try to do. The other thing — WAY too detailed! Doesn’t fit many forest types in the US, no matter our personal values and beliefs. Two to three sentences for each point is fine — a long and belabored description of “ifs” and “calculations” is more fitting for a land management strategy for a single ownership-type.

                      So what kind of Grade do I get? (I’m a confirmed B+ student — I do the work (no D), it’s not average (no C), it usually doesn’t agree with the instructors own values and beliefs (no A), and it’s usually more than asked for (B), and everything is spelled correctly (B+))

              • Gil: I couldn’t locate your reference on this string, although it is a long list and I may have missed it. It is better to simply provide a link to earlier references than try to cite them.

                I’m assuming Larry answered your questions, and I will say that I’m in full agreement with what he’s written. Applies to most of the western US (except for tree species and sizes), and not just to California.

                • Bob

                  Actually Larry didn’t really address much except to say that he wanted to return pre columbian management. I’ve asked for clarification but he hasn’t responded yet. My reading between the sparse lines is that there is a big gap between he and I.

                  Here is the link. I’ve enclosed it directly and, hopefully, as a hyperlink http://forestpolicypub.com/2013/10/16/timber-trouble-in-wisconsin/comment-page-1/#comment-21202
                  I really would like your feedback.

                  • I did re-answer but, it was a bit of a non-answer, since different forests have different parameters and conditions. I emphasized vigor, like you. That response is here but, maybe not where you expected it to be. See “October 19, 2013 10:57 am”. How can I be specific, when eastern forests are so varied? A bottomland stand is very different than a loblolly-planted former cotton field. I did answer indepth about the ponderosa pine stands of the Sierra Nevada, which I know a lot about.

                    Similarly, I could ask you, Gil, how you would treat second growth black cherry stands, compared to how you would deal with a mountain hemlock stand. It’s all site-specific. I usually deal with options that are allowed, on Federal lands, and not “pining” for the freedom of private lands.

                    I’m all for your “sound forest management” but, that varies so much that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for increasing vigor.

                  • Yow #2! You mean I didn’t pass the quiz?

                    “Pre-Columbian” conditions WERE managed by people. They featured opportunistic harvesting, generational management of preferred species, regular harvesting and pruning of those species, tillage, and prescribe fire.

                    There is no such thing as “management by catastrophe”, unless you are talking about Congress. Mostly people walk away from volcanic eruptions and catastrophic wildfires and flooding and only return when things have calmed down.

                    Pre-Columbian conditions typically look like a park. The reason we know that is because we have eyewitness accounts, drawings, photographs, survey notes, and relict populations of plants predating Columbus.

                    • Bob has some superb evidence of a distinct lack of conifers, in parts of Oregon. Bob, you should post a link to all those interesting historical accounts and even drawings, of what central Oregon looked like, in the early days. Also interesting is the debates scientists had to explain why there weren’t any ancient trees trees, or even 700 year old snags and logs, in that part of Oregon. Even the wild and improbable theories couldn’t fully explain the lack of those trees, when other areas had all sorts of evidence, including live trees. The real story is that those Indians were just so dedicated to creating those “forests”, over hundreds of years, on purpose!

                • Bob

                  What I think is still unanswered is:

                  How does “restoring forests to pre-Columbian conditions” translate into policy and man’s role in managing a forest? Can you be more specific in terms of what actions would be allowed and disallowed?

                  Does this mean that you see no role for logging to moderate mother nature’s management by catastrophe?

                  • Yow! Yow! Yow! Gil! What are you doing with this stuff? And why me?

                    OK, here goes:

                    We already have policies on “forest restoration.” The problem is defining those terms. If we want to restore plant and animal assemblages to pre-Columbian conditions we will have a problem with weeds, markets, and a whole slew of other things — not to mention economics and serial litigators.

                    I would interpret this to mean using inferred pre-Columbian ideals of of large, well-spaced favored tree species, such as oak, sugar pine, walnut, cherry, and three-needled pine, defined by grasslands, huckleberry fields, croplands, wildflower meadows, brakes, balds, and prairies — all in stable locations with mostly well-defined boundaries.

                    Logging would have a huge role in maintaining stands of old-growth in isolated areas, in preparing millions of acres for the reintroduction of regular fire, and in harvesting desired products from designated croplands.

                    But that’s just my perspective. Once again, I don’t think that “mother nature” manages anything, by definition, and that people in today’s world tend to try and mitigate most catastrophic events that personally affect them. Mostly, I think they end up doing stupid things, but I certainly don’t think most salvage logging is stupid.

                    Can I go home, now? (Actually, Gil, kind of enjoyed thinking about and articulating these things. And I am interested in — nay, demand! — your responses. Point by point.

                    • Bob & Larry

                      Thank you both tremendously – I picked on you because, I figured that you two were the most likely to share my philosophy – It appears that I was dead wrong. If we can’t get closer, there isn’t much hope.

                      Now to follow the good doctor’s instructions, I will endeavor to be more succinct and less detailed but I will probably fail miserably.

                      It is quite clear that Bob doesn’t like my catchphrase “Mother Nature Manages By Catastrophe” (or the alternative: Mother Nature’s Chaos Is Good, Mankind’s Order Is Bad) which I use to describe the “whatever happens is good as long as man isn’t involved” environmental mantra. Got a better one?

                      “Sound Forest Management” is my catchphrase to address all of the variations related to site specific management throughout the world – That is not one size fits all because it wouldn’t be sound – That is how I address Larry’s question: how would you “treat second growth black cherry stands, compared to how you would deal with a mountain hemlock stand”. I don’t have to know those details now. If I were in a position where I had to deal with that, I would then do my research to determine what constituted “sound forest management” for those species and sites and implement that. So hopefully that clears up a major semantics issue.

                      This has turned out to be too big to be addressed all at once, so let’s start by helping me to understand this pre-columbian concept better.

                      a) To me, pre-columbian status brings to mind large, post catastrophe establishment, relatively even aged stands of thousands to tens of thousands of contiguous acres. I don’t envision stands that large and homogenous as healthy and most current standards don’t accept stands anywhere near that large either.

                      b) I see no need to return any “active forest management” designated areas to pre-columbian status since they are going to be managed using sound forest management in terms of an appropriate rotation age for final harvest, regeneration, thinnings, controlled burns, ameliorating treatments, and damage control. Except for fires, I don’t envision most of these things occurring to any significant degree in pre-columbian forest ecosystems.

                      c) As an aside, I don’t think environmentalists will allow any logging to restore passive management lands to pre-columbian status since an environmental inventory would have found some potential concerns that forced the lands to be classified as passive rather than suitable for active management.

                      d) Bob says “Logging would have a huge role in maintaining stands of old-growth in isolated areas, in preparing millions of acres for the reintroduction of regular fire, and in harvesting desired products from designated croplands.” Is this the same as my balanced spatial and temporal distribution created by regulation management? When regular fire is reintroduced, is logging reduced? Is regulation management achieved? I see regulation as being an integral part of ecologically sound forest management and not separate from it as is connoted by cropland. I don’t think that an out of proportion emphasis on old-growth is healthy compared to a balanced distribution of stand ages created through regulation management.

                      Resolving semantic differences ain’t no fun but, if we don’t, we just go around in circles like the very common Zork bird.

                    • I agree with Bob’s take on this. I feel that a “pre-Columbian” landscape is mostly a well-managed one. I didn’t mean you to think that I preferred “un-management”. I think there is room in our forests for all the amenities that a healthy forest ecosystem can offer. However, we don’t need to have all of them on every acre, though. Man’s impacts have to be mitigated, and “passive restoration” is very slow and not very effective at enhancing vigor. or resilience. It is unfortunate that so many people still push for the “whatever happens” strategy.

                      We also have private forest management that provides those mosaic elements that some people think are missing from our public forests. Usually, most people want similar outcomes but, it is how we get there that is controversial.

                    • Uh-oh! I’m feeling suckered in, but that’s OK, Gil, I generally like these kinds of discussions and I’m getting bleary-eyed from too much Fosters and PhotoShopping — plus Oregon and OSU are both winning, so here goes:

                      “Isn’t much hope” of what, Gil? Trying to win an argument? Dictate US policy? Justify your beliefs? Rhetorical, yet somewhat serious question.

                      Nope. Not much for mantras or catchphrases, so you’re on your own with that one. I do think that environmentalists see people as essentially pathogens in the environment, though, but I borrowed that perspective from another grad student about 20 years ago. Plus, I have been championing “active management” vs. “passive management” for more than a decade, so maybe that can be fashioned into something. My beef is protectionists portraying themselves as conservationists, which I see as inherently dishonest or ignorant.

                      a) Here is what I see as your biggest hurdle in regards to pre-Columbian and/or precontact North American environments — you are way off base in your assumptions. I highly recommend you read Bonnicksen’s book on the “ancient forests” of North America and/or Kat Anderson’s book, Tending the Wild. Your perspective is essentially that American Indians were inept and/or ineffectual and that the landscape was controlled by external forces. Charles Kay would call this — with some justification — “racist.” Not to worry, though, almost all US forest policy and the entire environmental movement seems to side with your perspective — not the kind of “common ground” you want, I’m sure!

                      b) Big Problem: What is an “appropriate rotation?”

                      c) My position is that most environmentalists are being coddled by international forestry firms because it is in their best interests to keep federal timber (even dead trees) off the market. It’s not so much what “environmentalists will allow” so much as what “Big Business will allow.” Big Business doesn’t seem to like harvesting (and competition) of federal timbers, so they put on the black hat, let the enviros win in court and get their names in the newspaper, and then head on down to the bank. Private lands aren’t managed passively, as you well know, it is the federal lands that have been taken out of production and allowed to burn and rot in place.

                      d) “Regular fire” is introduced, under my benign dictatorship, at a rate of a few million acres a year. Croplands (“of timber”) are managed in rotations, as you say, according to ownership, species, topography, and social need. The only “out of proportion” old-growth is in your mind’s eye, not mine. “Ecologically sound” doesn’t resonate with me, so I can’t comment. Mt. St. Helens, Katrina, and the Columbus Day Storm are my short answer to regulated timber crops, “ecologically sound,” or not.

                      I Googled Zork bird and got a “jeweled encrusted egg,” so left it at that. But I think we are very much in agreement here: semantics are the problem that needs to be resolved. Why I hate acronyms, Latin, and jargon, and keep invoking Animal Farm! Back to the games and Fosters and maybe table PhotoShop until tomorrow!

                      You’re turn.

                • Bob and Larry

                  A “Zork” (or “Tsork”) bird is a Russian bird. Anyway, this bird flies in circles of ever decreasing radii until at the very last it flies up its own derriere with a loud “Zork!!!”. Can you see its relevance?

                  Re: “If we can’t get closer, there isn’t much hope.” Based on your clarifications, we are closer. The hope is that three of us with our forestry training and experiences can come to some set of core principles regarding the management of our NF timberlands. If we can’t, how can an organization like the SAF ever counter the environmentalist propaganda machine? United we stand or divided we continue to fall.

                  Please tell me where I have misclassified, misstated, goofed up or whatever and comment on sections “A” and “B” so that we can move them into sections “C” or “D”. If you are interested, we will probably have to take this off-line and bring the consensus back to the blog for feedback from others.

                  A) CLARIFICATION REQUESTED:
                  1) Bob –> Mt. St. Helens, Katrina, and the Columbus Day Storm are my short answer to regulated timber crops
                  Gil –> So does that mean you like or don’t like regulated forests (timber crops)? Do you insist on using the word “crops” because you don’t see where regulation can encompass environmental concerns any more than farming?
                  2) Larry –> “Man’s impacts have to be mitigated”
                  Gil –> Does mitigation mean following BMPs? Does it mean that every acre in Active Management on Fed Timberland needs to be matched with a Passive Management Acre on Fed Timberland? Does it mean that every acre in Active Management over all ownerships in the US needs to be matched with a Passive Management Acre on Fed Timberland?
                  3) Bob –> “I’m probably not as enamored with “biodiversity” as I perhaps should be.”
                  Gil –> I agree if biodiversity deteriorates the health of keystone species thereby introducing risk to the successful components of the forest ecosystem. (i.e. a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush)

                  B) THE HANGING CHAD:
                  1) Bob –> “appropriate rotation?”
                  Gil –> Answer = A rotation age appropriate to the species, site, and the common goals dictated by the controlling party whether it be a governing body, concerns over environmentalist pressure, collaborative agreement or whatever.
                  2) Gil –> ‘environmentalists will not allow any logging on federal timberlands set aside for passive management once active management lands are identified’
                  3) Gil –> ‘an environmental survey of federal timberlands needs to be undertaken and those federal timberlands where no significant environmental concerns exist [that can’t be incorporated into Best Management Practices (BMPs)] should be declared as “Active Management Lands”. All other lands would consititute varying degrees of “Passive Management” from: controlled fire and beetle control only, to roadless, and to wilderness being the ultimate in “Passive Management”’.
                  4) Bob –> The only “out of proportion” old-growth is in your mind’s eye, not mine.
                  Gil –> So you don’t think that the focus on the NSO has led to an overabundance of old growth? You don’t agree with the report from page 6 of the June 2013, Forestry Source stating that “Early-seral habitats are now the scarcest forest type in the Pacific Northwest, which may have severe implications for some wildlife species”? Doesn’t Early-seral forest come from catastrophe and final harvests and don’t final harvests come from the oldest trees in the?
                  5) Larry –> ‘private forest management can provide some mosaic elements that some people think are missing from our public forests.’
                  Gil –> Doesn’t that remove the benefits of the mosaic from the federal forest and thereby remove the spatial importance in terms of minimizing beetle and fire catastrophes?

                  C) CORE PRINCIPLES AGREED TO:
                  1) Maintaining stand vigor/health is the highest priority in our forests in order for them to provide for all of the denizens that they contain, contend with global change, and meet the air, water, recreational, renewable materials and etc. that are critical to human life.
                  2) Bob –> ‘protectionists portraying themselves as conservationists are inherently dishonest or ignorant’ ?Larry?
                  Gil –> Environmentalists placing a higher value on aesthetics, keeping things as they are and managing for a minor species at the detriment of the keystone species in the forest environment are not scientifically informed and their emotionally driven wishes are generally counter productive to the long term good.
                  3) Larry –> ““pre-Columbian” landscape is mostly a well-managed one.” Bob & Gil
                  4) Larry –> “I think there is room in our forests for all the amenities that a healthy forest ecosystem can offer. However, we don’t need to have all of them on every acre, though.” Bob & Gil
                  5) Larry –> ““passive restoration” AKA “whatever happens” strategy.” is very slow and not very effective at enhancing vigor or resilience.”
                  6) Bob –> “Regular fire” is a good thing on all lands and should be used where allowed even in wilderness.

                  D) DISCUSSED BUT AT AN IMPASS:
                  None to date

                  • Um, you guys seem to be dancing around the issues of anthro or eco.
                    I think it’s obvious as daylight that America’s vegetative composition on Columbus Day 1492 was an anthropologic artifact, the result of active management for human purposes using available technology and experiential application.
                    And given what I know about tribal approaches in the modern era, had Indians invented chainsaws and Peterbilts before the white eyes, they would have been using them when Chris stepped off the boat. For what? To improve the environment for human purposes.
                    There is a reason that modern humans find the pre-Columbian condition, that parked-out look, so attractive. Humans caused it.

                    • Dave

                      Thanks for jumping in here, I seem to have run Bob and Larry off to take a break. I do like to pin things down more than most people are interested in being pinned down.

                      Re: “you guys seem to be dancing around the issues of anthro or eco”
                      –> You are exactly right. Thanks for the jog. I think that I prefer environmentally sound over either. I like the ecosystem concept as a label but I don’t see any need to classify between anthro or eco since mankind’s survival requires that whatever we do or don’t do should be scrutinized against the same plum line which is: ‘Is this the most environmentally wise decision for the long term survival of mankind and all that mankind depends on’. To me, both eco and anthro are too vague to help me say that is good or that is bad. I’ve seen some supposed eco stuff that I didn’t consider to be environmentally sound. In the same vein, Indians didn’t have to worry about temperature inversions during a fire causing massive pileups on the interstates or causing COPD for millions of people.
                      –> What I am trying to pin down is a set of general core principles that 90+% of reasonable foresters could agree to. To me that means it needs to be environmentally sound for the long term health of the keystone species. Obviously, as a forester, I believe that sound forest management is better than no management intervention. What is important to me is an environmental net positive combination of various rotation management schemes necessary to keep forest vigor high in order to protect those component species that depend on the various combinations of keystone species that define various healthy forest types.

                      Re: “anthropologic artifact, the result of active management for human purposes using available technology and experiential application.”
                      –> As you seem to be saying, it would seem that the anthropological impact today would and should be different than the impact in 1492. We should use the more modern tools and hopefully improved forest science of today rather than that which existed in 1492.
                      –> Maybe it’s an East Coast versus West Coast thing or maybe it is just my ignorance showing but, I have never been aware that the Native Americans managed the timberlands in the east to the extent that you, Bob and Larry seem to contend happened in the west. I am assuming that the populations in 1492 didn’t require products except from a very small portion of the total timberlands. They needed large trees for totem poles, lodge houses and large canoes while they needed saplings for tent poles and birch canoes. Could they have harvested/managed even 5% of the forests? But, again does it matter? We need to do what is best for today and the future as best as we can figure based on sound, established science rather than Chicken Little’s fears that drive him to impair the keystone species in order to try to save a minor component of the ecosystem defined by the keystone species.

                    • Gil: Nope. Not run off — blogging just doesn’t pay the light bill. Neither does most of the involuntary “volunteer” work I do for my nonprofit, but it has priority by nearly 15 years.

                      Dave: What do you mean “dancing around”? I think I’ve been pretty explicit and pretty consistent with my thoughts on how people manage the landscape, whether in North America during pre-Columbian times or anywhere else. Maybe not the Arctic — but almost everywhere else.

                      So I agree with what you’re saying, except for the dancing part.

                    • Gil: Of course people managed the land in the East as thoroughly as the West. Where do you think pumpkins and the Mississippi mounds came from? And totem poles are not an eastern artifact — you’re just displaying your ignorance here. Please reads some Bonnicksen or Kat Anderson — seriously. It will do you good.

                      The main use for large wood is almost always as fuel. Firewood, and construction materials, canoes, artwork, bridges, weapons, tools, etc. Please do some reading on this — your prejudice is glaring like a spotlight. Again — not to worry, it permeates our culture, policies, and sciences, so you’re not alone. Just mistaken.

                      And, again, I agree on your Keystone species concept. Only I’m talking specifically about people, and you’ve got something else in mind.

                  • Gil: Yow, yow, yow, yow!! (Four yows and counting). I thought we started with seven (7) numbered items and NOW we’re up to four (4) categories with fourteen (14) components!?! I’m guessing you may have been an only child. Please stick with your own numbering system so I can at least try and follow if you’re even responding to what I type or not.

                    OK, here goes . . . (at least there’s not a bunch of acronyms and computations to deal with — thanks for that!):

                    First, I am generally unprincipled to begin with and am not even an SAF member and I don’t think we’re standing against an “environmentalist propaganda machine.” I think the “machine” is based on bad science pronouncements supported directly by taxpayers and media and indirectly by the multinational timber corporations who benefit by the closure of federal lands. The environmentalists are merely the puppets in the play, much like cheerleaders leading chants during football games — not real players. Not that I’m a conspiracy theorist, of course, but that’s what it looks like from my seat in the stands. That being said, I understand your personal need for principles and will try and be helpful by being a constructive critic. I am not the person you want for a “united stand”; I am the person you need to preview your blueprints, then get paid and go home.

                    You’re going to have to do your own classifying and reorganizing. Your game, your rules, your move.

                    A) Clarification Requested

                    1) Nope. I like regulated timber crops. I insist on using the word crop because you are describing crops, not forests in general. And I think farming encompasses environmental concerns, too, but that’s a separate discussion. I think you’re not giving enough credit to agriculture and it’s direct relationship to tree farming, which is what you keep describing.

                    2) I’ll answer for Larry here, since I’m going through the list anyway, and let him correct me: Nope. Nothing means “following BMPs” except regulations, and that’s what you keep describing.

                    3) Please read my earlier comments on Keystone species. If we’re going to keep playing by your rules, you’re going to have to recognize my counterpoints. Plus, you are not agreeing with me at all, just putting words in my mouth. I never said anything of the sort.

                    B) The Hanging Chad

                    1) Your key phrase is “the controlling party.” It’s up to them, not you or me. If the controlling party doesn’t agree with a particular rotation strategy, they don’t have to follow it. Because they are in control.

                    2) Read what I have already said a few times about environmentalists “allowing logging.” This isn’t going to work if you keep refusing to acknowledge what I’ve actually written.

                    3) I’m about as much into formal declarations as I am into homogenized regulations. Not buying into this, and not sure who the audience is. The American public? Weyerhaeuser stockholders? Congress?

                    4) Nope, I don’t think the focus on spotted owls has led to an overabundance of old-growth — just the opposite. I think we’ve lost too many hundreds of thousands of acres of old-growth to catastrophic wildfires, disease, bugs, competition, and general neglect due to spotted owl nitwittery. “Early seral” landscapes have been mostly taken up by farms, highways, pastures, cities, and housing developments — not old-growth. And areas maintained by such species: i.e., huckleberries, bunchgrass prairies, brakes, balds, oak savannahs and camas meadows are being eaten up by invasive conifers as we type. Do you even read my responses?

                    5) I’ll let Larry handle that one, since it’s addressed to him. Personally, I think you keep confusing “age classes” with “forest types” and “mosaics.”

                    C) Core Principles You Say We’ve Agreed To:

                    1) I’ll agree, generally, to that, although I’d word it differently. I think I’d say something like “Actively managing our forest resources in order to meet common human objectives enhances our lives.” Something like that.

                    2) I used the words “protectionists” and “conservationists” and you do a riff on “environmentalists” and then put a lot of words in my mouth. Not sure I agree with what you are saying or why this is even a “Core Principle.”

                    3)I think that means we are all in agreement and can discard your Mother Nature Manages By Catastrophe misdirection you were previously inflicting on pre-Columbian cultures. So that’s a step in the right direction — but I’d call it a “fact” rather than a “principle.”

                    4) I think we’re in agreement on that, too. Partly because it’s impossible, and partly because the efforts to obtain homogenized environments is completely nuts. People that keep trying to do that need to buy better computer games and stop inflicting their nonsense on the rest of us.

                    5) I’d say “slow or impossible.” And it’s back to semantics with “vigor” (of what?) and “resilience” (to what?).

                    6) I didn’t say it was “good on all lands,” you’re just saying I did. The Indians certainly didn’t burn everything, why would they? A lot of land is regularly tilled for crops, whether by digging or plowing. Steep, inaccessible lands don’t need fire. And prescribed fires aren’t always necessarily “good.”

                    Gil, you’re making a lot of assumptions and misstatements on my behalf, and even ignoring the words I use when you take direct quotes and use them to justify your own perspectives. In other words, you are twisting my own words to meet your own uses. Please actually read what I have written and respond to that, rather than distorting portions of what I’ve said in order to serve your own purposes. Generally I agree with most of what you have written, but I disagree with the way in which you are trying to control and manipulate the discussion to meet your own needs.

                    Hope that was helpful. Back to the drawing board!

                    • A-1 – moves to C-A1 agree but disagree on terminology
                      A-2 – What is mitigation, Larry
                      A-3 – Sorry but there is too much here for my little brain to cope with
                      B-1 – I think that we are in agreement, Bob
                      B-2 – Sorry but there is too much here for my little brain to cope with
                      B-3 – Bob –> “Not buying into this, and not sure who the audience is”
                      – The audience is us and you are in control of what you want to speak to. I have no rules, only questions and a desire to find out what we do and don’t have in terms of common principles and it is turning into something much more difficult than I had hopped for.
                      B-4 – moves to D-B4 – Sorry, I read your responses but apparently they are getting lost in the deluge of data which is why I need the iterative process of putting things down and being corrected in terms of a response to a specific numbered question.
                      B-5 – We’ll have to move this to D-B5 because Estab Year (therefore age) is part of the forest type for a great many companies in the south and shows in the stand forest type label on GIS maps.
                      C-1 – Agree in principle not on wording
                      C-2 – I stand corrected – Dropped
                      C-3 – moved to B-C3 because Bob is talking about management by indians where I am talking about non management as dictated by some enviros
                      C-4 – Agree
                      C-5 – Agree with some clarification latter
                      C-6 – moves to B-C6 for clarification latter

                  • Really, we should put this on its own thread. Maybe even have a series of posts about each element of your “Manifesto”, Gil. It is easy to be in favor of “restoration” but, the Devil is in the definitions and details of how we get there, and how long it takes, given the realities of today’s forests and human “nature”. Indeed, some people continue to view the human race as a “malevolent cancer upon the earth”. I refuse to be pinned down on forestry issues, since everything is so site-specific, and especially-so in the Sierra Nevada, where I am most experienced. If you take a look at this view of the SPI lands, in the Sierra Nevada, you can see why I am reluctant to mandate the extent of “sound forest management” you propose.

                    https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=38.500087,-120.428953&spn=0.060253,0.132093&t=h&z=14

                    As you can see, there is no shortage of “early seral habitat”, in this part of the Sierra Nevada. SPI’s extensive holdings all look like this, so I don’t think there is a lack of “that kind” of management on the whole of the Sierra Nevada forests.

                    I would hope that the future of these forests would include “sustainable” old growth harvesting, as a way to fund the beneficial thinning projects and all the non-commercial work that will be needed, to avoid future Rim Fires.

                    I currently have a lot of irons in the fire, lately, including an art show installation on Saturday. I also have other possible projects on the horizon that will be presented here, when the time is appropriate. These will involve “repeat photography” and the Rim Fire.

                    • Larry

                      Looking forward to those repeat photo posts.

                      I agree with your comments on getting all of this off onto another thread or series of threads. But I am not really interested in it being my manifesto because I recognize that I haven’t the knowledge or wisdom to produce such a manifesto that would mean anything to anyone else. Better is shared success.
                      Please look at this link and tell me if you can think of a better way forward than what I have outlined at the bottom of this link at:
                      http://forestpolicypub.com/2013/10/16/timber-trouble-in-wisconsin/comment-page-1/#comment-21638

  5. Thanks for that, Andy. So, a long term decline from 120 million to 70 some million? Or at least two flatlines at different levels, so that’s a long-term deal, long enough that the associated private ground probably got mowed off faster. Wish I knew how to dig for total production for the northern half of the state.

  6. Sharon, thanks for this original posting. I think it could be a really interesting “case study” if anyone on the blog is in a position to investigate. Maybe that journalist will dig a little deeper and be able to tell the whole story of how things have arrived where they are. From the tidbit provided so far, it really shows how timber and wood products industries are interwoven with many others societal changes that have occurred over the past couple decades.

    One way to address these issues is to re-frame the focus away from total “volumes” and orient more towards rural jobs. Here’s why. During the latest recession, American lost millions of jobs. Although we are now in “recovery” mode (arguably), the unemployment rate has remained largely unchanged. While there are many reasons for this, one reason is that some jobs have been lost due to mechanization, automation, digitization etc.. Ironically, economic downturns have always given rise to new innovations as industries have had to adapt to the new financial realities. As many people on this blog are painfully aware, this dynamic has played out in timber industry for several decades now, largely due to pressures from the globalization of the industry, constraints imposed by environmental standards, and some loss of volume from lawsuits affecting public lands.

    Because of this dynamic, 10 timber workers that are well trained in modern technologies today are able to harvest far greater volumes than 10 timber workers using 1970s or even 80’s technology. If we focus on volumes alone, we miss the larger point that there are fewer rural jobs available for timber workers (and the same applies for mill workers) than there once were for a variety of reasons, not just because of reductions in harvest. My sense is that the good folks on this blog that are arguing for harvest levels to back up to where they used to be are not just interested in cutting more trees for its own sake. Instead, they are mainly interested in supporting rural communities and want them to live, strive, and thrive for generations to come (which I can’t imagine not supporting). But higher timber volumes alone do not necessarily translate to healthier rural communities for the foregoing reasons. Indeed, I’m no expert in this field, but given the incredible strides the industry has made in terms of its production efficiencies, I could hardly imagine the volumes we would need to cut (and the environmental consequences that would flow from this level of harvest) to bring previously timber-dependent communities back to anything close to full employment, if we assume everyone who once worked in the timber/wood products industry were to continue to do so.

    • Small timber sales of large diameter trees and “off species”. Salvage sales, small stewardship sales, restoration or road work in exchange for good timber.
      Small sales, ever few months, everyone gets a chance to buy in, several chances really, not just one big sale for one purchaser.
      Small manufacturers creating all kinds of specialty wood products.
      Every town with some kind of small locally owned mill or two.
      That’s the future I liked to see.

  7. Mike I don’t think all of the folks on the blog are arguing for “harvest levels back up where they used to be”. You can talk about efficiencies and markets, but we look at Neiman for example and they seem to be doing find and providing jobs. Not as many jobs perhaps as before but I don’t think that that’s the issue.

    It seems like there is SOME level of timber outputs that would support some industry and some jobs and not have a negative impact on the environment (unless we agree that all cutting of trees is bad for the environment.. you would have to talk to the Montreal Process people and FSC about that). For example, 4FRI. Everyone agrees that those practices are OK.

    Then you have to say “why is that not happening?” and somehow many people have the impression it is due to 1) appeals and litigation and 2) other factors.. would like to talk about this more but have to work on other stuff.. I think it is very important to see where people really are on this.Let’s take it up when I get back from Convention.

  8. Hey Sharon,

    I didn’t mean to imply that I thought everyone on the blog wanted higher timber harvest. Sorry if it came across that way. I think we are on similar pages but perhaps at different points in the same chapter in terms of the conversation you are proposing for a later date. Yes, I do think there is a level of timber harvest that creates some jobs and minimizes harm to the forest. I also think there are other levels which create FEWER jobs and do more harm. Finally, there are other harvest levels that create MORE jobs and actually IMPROVE the forest. If this doesn’t make sense to you when you read it, its because timber harvest levels are not necessarily the right metric for protecting rural jobs. It is part of the picture, for sure. Perhaps “necessary but insufficient” is the right way to couch this. In other words, I think focusing on why harvest level X is or is not happening is somewhat of a distraction from the more important conversation about creating a more sustainable future for rural America in historically timber-dependent communities.

    Thinking along your lines, though, I wonder if we should be asking why/how timber communities became so dependent upon a particular harvest level to begin with? Where did that expectation and rural economy come from?

    • Mike

      I appreciate your reasoned responses:

      Re: “I didn’t mean to imply that I thought everyone on the blog wanted higher timber harvest”
      –> thanks for re-thinking your statement that many on this blog are “arguing for harvest levels to back up to where they used to be”

      Re: “Yes, I do think there is a level of timber harvest that creates some jobs and minimizes harm to the forest.”
      –> If my memory serves me correctly, you don’t believe that timber harvesting can be a net positive for the environment (forget jobs, forget anything but the forest ecosystem). Your feeling being that the best we can do with sound forest management is to ‘minimize the harm it creates’ thereby unequivocally ruling out any chance for sound forest management to maximize good. Is that a fair summary?

      *** Let me try to put my environmental beliefs into very simple terms to try and explain why I think we have the same goals and not as many differences as you and others seem to assume. I have explained my reasoning before so I will try to refrain from explanations and deal with them later if you request clarification.

      1) The health of the forest comes first. If we don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of us. If we don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of biodiversity, help us deal with global change, provide jobs, provide recreation, provide aesthetics and etc.
      –> So, am I clear? imho, the health of our forests are our 1st priority.

      2) My scientific training and experience supports my belief in the keystone species concept. If we throw the keystone species spatial and temporal distribution out of whack for minor components that some consider to be endangered, we end up doing more harm than good for other species and often don’t help or actually harm the minor species of interest. Consider the NSO, and Mac’s references below in regard to the RCW and the Ruffed Grouse. If we can accommodate endangered species without throwing things out of whack, then all is good.

      3) I contend that nature manages by catastrophic management. Nature’s management style throws the keystone species spatial and temporal distribution out of whack.

      4) I sincerely believe, based on my scientific training and experience, that harvesting is an essential requirement to moderate nature’s catastrophic management style and produce a more balanced spatial and temporal distribution of more healthy forests that maximizes the long term good for the forest and global ecosystems.

      5) Now let’s talk more about that word that is such a dirty word to so many environmentalists. I believe and understand that people are afraid of harvests because they don’t look pretty. I would also contend that surgery doesn’t look pretty but it is essential for the health of the patient if the doctor has made the correct diagnosis. The same thing applies to properly planned and executed harvesting operations.

      6) So, what are the realities regarding increasing harvest levels? I believe that the anti harvest sentiment is strong and can not be brushed aside to maximize sustained harvest levels on our national forests. I also believe that sustained harvest levels must consider the need for flexibility to deal with short term environmental concerns. I also believe that the infrastructure isn’t in-place to handle a sudden increase in harvest levels. I also believe that the forest products manufacturing industry has very little faith in the continued long term availability of NF timber and wood and would be slow to rebuild even if it was given assurances that lawsuits after contract signing were off of the table. I also believe that rebuilding markets for timber and wood would take considerable time before anything even remotely approaching sustained harvest levels could be achieved. So patience is in order.

      7) So how much harvest is necessary? The previous highs are totally irrelevant. Remember: The health of the forest comes first.
      — a) As I have proposed before, we need to start out small. We need to do an environmental inventory of our national forests and identify those acres where there are no identified serious concerns. Those forests would constitute the initial “active forest management areas” and the balance of our NF lands would constitute the “passive forest management areas” which would include wilderness, roadless and other set asides. I would allow the NF managers to trade or move acreages between one area and another as concerns were raised and as concerns were removed by followup environmental inventories.
      — b) I would then calculate the non-declining sustainable yield for the “active forest management areas”. If the existing harvest levels for the forest were greater than the sustainable number then harvest would be reduced accordingly. If the existing harvest levels for the forest were less than the sustainable number then harvest would be increased by 10 percent of the difference between the current and sustainable harvest levels. Eight years out, actual harvests and inventories would be reconciled against actual. In addition, environmental compatibility would be compared between the active and passive forest areas and adjustments between acreages would be made based on what was working best. If the adjusted sustainable number allowed, then at 10 years out the harvest would be increased by 10 percent of the difference between the current and sustainable harvest levels. This process would be repeated on the 10 year cycle so that industry could rely on a 10 year cycle and have some degree of comfort that a major pullback wouldn’t occur once they got past the first 8 year review. The same would apply to the environmentalists. If I am right they would see the benefit of sound forest management and be willing to try a little more of it. If I am wrong, then the clock would be wound back.

      I think that I am being very accommodating. It certainly seems like a reasonable starting point for a constructive dialog as opposed to endless bickering and platitudes. Please tell me where I am wrong?

      • Hi Larry,

        In your last response to me you said: “If my memory serves me correctly, you don’t believe that timber harvesting can be a net positive for the environment (forget jobs, forget anything but the forest ecosystem). Your feeling being that the best we can do with sound forest management is to ‘minimize the harm it creates’ thereby unequivocally ruling out any chance for sound forest management to maximize good. Is that a fair summary?”

        My response: No, this isn’t really a very accurate summary of my beliefs Gil, and I am not sure what I’ve said that would lead you to believe this. In my last post, for instance, I believe I noted specifically that there are ways of doing forestry that create more jobs and actually improve the forest.

        Gil, I actually don’t think you and I are that far away from each other in terms of the potential we both see for sound forest management that incorporates a whole host of forestry practices, including commercial timber harvest among other holistic practices. Like anything, if forestry practices are not done well, they can cause harm, so in this sense we do need to minimize the harm by doing things the right way (and this includes for the right reasons). In fact, there is a great deal in your last response to me with which we agree, at least in principle, the only difference potentially (emphasis on potentially) being the scope and scale of the forestry practices we are talking about.

        Just by way of background, I was once co-owner of a fully integrated wood products manufacturing company that utilized trees harvested from public and private lands. Because we were small, we were able to require and maintain very high standards in our wood sourcing (mostly larch thinning projects in which we made wood flooring and trim products). I’m no longer in the business for reasons completely unrelated to what we are discussing on this blog site, but I remain a very strong supporter of the forestry practices we utilized (although not exclusively).

        Ultimately, Gil, I realized from your last response to me that you were very likely not responding to me personally, but rather an “image” of me that you’ve created. Because the only thing you really know of me is from my previous posts, I have to assume that I’ve said things here that caused you to conclude things about me in a certain kind of way. If this is true, and I mean this sincerely, I want to learn how the way I express my views leads you to see me in a certain kind of way. Thanks for any feedback you wish to provide Gil.

        • Mike

          From your response, I think that you are correct and I just took your words literally with insufficient context for me to read between the lines. I stand corrected and again, I am very appreciative of the way that you deal with seeming or actual differences of opinion. People don’t like to get specific, so sometimes, I resort to stating what I believe is the other’s position and asking if I am correct in order to get a specific answer that I can’t misinterpret. It’s like the basic principle of telling your boss what he just told you to do so that he can tell you that you understood correctly or must have gone to sleep on him *&%$^(#)@.

          Re: “there is a great deal in your last response to me with which we agree, at least in principle, the only difference potentially (emphasis on potentially) being the scope and scale of the forestry practices we are talking about”
          –> The site specific need for prescription forest management dictates that one size does not fit all. From what you have said, I assume that you agree with that.
          –> After rethinking what I told Larry and Bob above, I would say that my scope and scale of things is that:
          ——- in the sense that site specific prescriptions are the only option as a general principle of sound forest management, the scope and scale of things is variable. I agree with SFI and others that stands should not average over 120 acres with maximum stand sizes running at most around 200 acres. So small scale applies to stand size and small to medium is the scope and size for a FOREST TYPE defined as: Species Group X Establishment Year X Establishment Method (including variants of both natural and planted) X Seed Source and Level of Genetic Improvement X Timing and type of Ameliorating Treatment X Age and Type and intensity of Intermediate Harvests X Intended Rotation Age (including none) X Final Harvest type X other factors appropriate such as aesthetic, environmental and etc. modifications.
          ——- in the sense that I believe that the obligation of any landowner is to keep their mistakes on their own property as much as humanly possible, I believe that Sound Forest Management should be applied at the scale of the entire landscape but the scope should be limited to:
          ——- ——- Wilderness/Roadless/Parks – The scope should be limited to controlled burns and beetle spot eradication so that the wilderness isn’t destroyed and so that the odds of catastrophes spreading to one’s neighbors is minimized.
          ——- ——- Special needs such as Endangered Species, Archaeological, Recreational, Water Supply and etc. – Scope should include controlled burns, beetle spot eradication, harvesting as appropriate to maintain the vigor of the keystone species, and modifications to the forest type components such as rotation age; intermediate harvest frequency, intensity and timing; and etc. to meet the special needs without harming the vigor of the keystone species composing the Forest Type.
          ——- ——- Active Management would have no limits to scope other than adherence to sound forest management which I define as adherence to BMPs, the laws, established science and experiential knowledge to fill in on site specific situations that fall between the cracks of established science. That established science would include doing no significant long term harm to the environment. These lands on our National forests would have been identified by environmental inventory’s as having no significant environmental concerns that couldn’t be addressed by sound forest management practices. Note that when I speak of significant environmental concerns, I am talking about scientifically established concerns rather than hypothetical concerns like: maybe, might, could, possibly and unproven theories.

          So, I am talking about a very heterogeneous mix of site specific prescriptions for forest types including both natural and planted.
          Are we anywhere near still being on the same page?

          • Gil: Maybe you and Mike are getting closer to the same page, but I have to say there is nothing wrong with a 30,000-acre forest of managed old-growth yellow pine. When talking of scale, I prefer to think in terms of subbasins, which may be more applicable in the west that in the south. Again, consider Mt. St. Helens. If the eruption had restricted itself to 120 acres, what good would that have done? Or wildfires. How big do they get? Personally, I see nothing wrong with a ridgeline to ridgeline 5,000 acre clearcut (of an appropriate species, or weeds), if it is confined to a single subbasin that is mostly uninhabited; isn’t that better for everyone — including wildlife — than having the same area scoured by a wildfire? There are plenty of areas that were managed like that 100 and more years ago, and they seem fine today. I don’t even think “recovered” is the right word — just changed from one condition to another, and all for the good of most species that have occupied them ever since. Why the arbitrary and artificial limits on scale? Nature sure doesn’t seem too concerned with such restrictions.

            • Bob

              Re: “nothing wrong with a 30,000-acre forest of managed old-growth yellow pine”
              –> I don’t have a problem either because the proper management would generally be clearcut or seed tree or shelterwood where at least 50% of the soil was scarified and exposed to the sun. This would be done over a period of time until we had changed to a 30,000 acre forest made up of a matrix of stands averaging less than 120 acres of varying ages, establishment methods, and treatments providing a more uniformly sustainable level of harvests and more sustainable level of employment rather than turning massive production on and then turning it off and then trying to turn it back on and finding that no one trusted you enough to rebuild the infrastructure.

              Re: “I see nothing wrong with a ridgeline to ridgeline 5,000 acre clearcut (of an appropriate species, or weeds), if it is confined to a single subbasin that is mostly uninhabited; isn’t that better for everyone — including wildlife — than having the same area scoured by a wildfire?”
              –> Yes it is better. But isn’t there an even better option? I think that a more diverse spatial and temporal distribution of stands provides for a more sustainable logging force and mill supply, as well as better biodiversity and protection against beetles and fires.

              Re: “There are plenty of areas that were managed like that 100 and more years ago, and they seem fine today”
              –> Yes and those good old days were also the days of the infamously well known “Cut out and get out” philosophy. When it was all over the people were devastated due to the lack of a sustainable harvest when the mill shut down and there were no jobs. Sound forest management has to be paid for. Sustainability is required to encourage the infrastructure necessary to carry out sound forest management. There is a symbiotic relationship between healthy forests and the wood products industry. But that is only a consideration in determining what is best for all, I am not advocating that every acre be managed for forest products.

              • Gil: I can go with 120-acre “average’, so that’s a step closer in agreement between you and I. Your “better option” can’t prevent wildfire, windthrow, disease, bugs, or snowbreak. Voila! Single-aged stand, starting from seed and seedlings. Near-clearcut salvage. Metronome is out of whack — suddenly harvest volumes are established by nature or careless campers, not idealistic formulas or markets. “Cut-out-and-get-out” was an eastern phenomenon for the most part. People in the West never ran out of timber. People just kept moving the track and building the roads until most of it was shut down by the ESA. Then people had to get out.

          • Gil,

            Regardless of whether we agree on everything, I do appreciate your ability to lay out a broad philosophy in a straight forward manner. Thanks for laying all this out.

            In thinking about whether we are any where close to being on the same page, I would say we are perhaps in the same book, or maybe even chapter, but I think we are coming at this dialogue from differing orientations to begin with, which leads us to emphasize differing components of the conversation regarding what constitutes sound forest management. Here’s what I mean.

            1. Given the primary purposes of this blog as I understand them, I would first couch the conversation around “sound National Forest” management, which differs in my view from “sound forest management” of state or private forests. Forestry practices as you, Bob, and others describe them are not inherently “good” or “bad”, because all they are doing is changing the landscape in various ways depending upon the prescription. In my view, therefore, “sound” forest management is based upon the context and purposes of the lands being managed.

            Referring back over to our discussion around the Organic Act, I would suggest that timber production was but one a of a suite of reasons for which NFs were created, and subsequent laws, including the MUYSA, have reiterated the multiple purposes for which NFs were created. The way I make sense of these multiple objectives is to adopt a conservative approach toward forestry activities that involve timber harvest on NFs.

            I recognize and do not disagree with your assessment of what forestry practices can achieve using timber harvest as a primary means of creating change on the landscape, and I would be very supportive (in general) of state lands management that utilized your approach Gil. I would also say that in in the age of climate change there is an increasing justification for more active forest management, some of which should involve timber harvest on NFs. Here again though, I am still likely on the more conservative end of the spectrum in terms of the forestry prescriptions involving timber harvest for the foregoing reasons.

            2. The second thing I see is that we sometimes conflate “purest” forestry interests (like those you describe Gil) with timber industry interests. As an example, we started out this string of emails talking about timber volumes in Wisconsin, and whether they should go up, go down, why they went down etc. This kind of conversation may concerns timber industry interests, but it doesn’t necessarily speak to “sound” NF management practices. This is why I refer in my posts to practicing forestry “for the right reasons”.

            Now I realize this gets messy pretty quick, because the Forest Service does have a legitimate concern in supporting rural communities and this can/should include making commercial timber harvest available at some level. The perceived risk, and I believe this is at the core of most environmentalist objections and discomfort with timber harvests on NFs in general, is that where timber industry interests are involved, there is an inherent pressure to provide timber at a level (i.e. volume) which meets the need of the industry.

            This pressure to produce timber volumes commensurate with what the industry needs, in turn, can influence otherwise “sound” National Forest management. Here, I mean that conservative Forest Service forestry prescriptions which might otherwise produce less (or no) commercial timber , can be “skewed” toward producing a particular timber volume over time, due to political pressures and not necessarily because of what constitutes the most “sound” NF management.

            Because of the foregoing, I would be really interested to know if the FS or anyone else has developed a series of NF management “scenarios” at the Regional or even watershed scale in which each scenario is correlated with timber volumes produced (as a by product of the management) under that scenario. Using a scenario approach like this, coupled with consensus-based standards for what constitutes “sound” NF management practices (e.g. like those developed by the Montana Forest Restoration Committee), could provide a framework for talking about what timber volume (and thus what size of timber industry) is commensurate with “sound” NF management at certain geographic scales.

            3. Being as though the timber industry does not operate in a vacuum (i.e. it must be able to produce its product at a competitive rate), however, we are brought full circle to what kinds of public policies would support rural communities AND sound NF management. This was the purpose of my initial response in this string of emails, and why I am interested in conversations that speak to the “greatest good”. What national interests are involved or implicated by the health or loss of rural communities? How can we create more resilient rural communities with economies in better alignment with “sound” National Forest management?

            • That is quite a mouthful, Mike! I do agree with almost all of what you are saying but, we probably still are far apart as to how much harvesting should be done. Certainly, industry and counties want as much harvesting as they can get, maybe even pushing for levels not seen since the 80’s. Some might even spin that desire as “sound forest management”, as you have said. I’m pretty moderate on those issues, and desire a more moderate “sustainable” level of harvest, desiring a program of “restoration” through thinning and fuels reductions, in appropriate areas. Of course, one could say that last sentence is quite a mouthful, in its own right.

              Again, my idea of restoration is to reduce overstocked stands to match annual rainfall amounts (and to reduce catastrophic wildfires), to restore species compositions to more natural blends (in mixed conifer stands), and to encourage stands to grow into endangered species habitats, harboring birds like goshawks and spotted owls. Certainly, other areas might need other types of management, and some areas maybe should be left alone, if supported by economics and science.

              • Matching rainfall? Good catch, Larry.
                One of the memes in the climate change “debate” is declining rainfall, or at least an altered water cycle. If you have 100 acres and only get irrigation water for 50, do you plant 100 acres or 50?
                If you have x number of sticks per acre needing y moisture per stem for vigor and rapid seral advance, and you’re only getting .5(y) moisture, whaddaya do?
                Nothing? Then what happens?
                But it’s nice to see I’m not the only one looking at available water.

                • Dave and Larry: These are really good points, particularly for those dealing with real or perceived Global Warming concerns. I think there is a cut-off — maybe 17- or 18-inches, according to memory — where forests can’t grow (or maybe even persist) below that point. Of more importance, though, is the seasonality of the rains. When soils have become saturated to the point of being able to hold more moisture (and maybe particularly in flatlands), or for most rainfall that occurs when trees are dormant (“the Pacific Northwest”), the amount of rain is mostly irrelevant. But the imbalance of rain and vegetation that has developed in the past 30 years on our National Forests and Wildernesses creates a real fire problem, in addition to competitive stress on our older and larger trees.

            • Mike: I’m in agreement with Larry, with what you are saying, and what Gil is trying to put together — 1) this discussion probably should be continued as one or a series of separate posts, to examine the concepts in greater detail, 2) there is a significant difference between management objectives for National Forests and for State and private forests, and 3) there is value in attempting to define and/or redefine what those differences are.

              I have been teasing Gil to some degree about his insistence in getting his wording and concepts refined to the point where it fits his own vision and that can be shared by others, but mostly because he has been singling me and Larry out and holding us responsible for reviewing his ideas and wording. But his basic ideas are sound and his intent is admirable, too. A fundamental problem though, as you point out, is that Gil’s “principles” are far more suited for industrial landowners or state forests intended to produce steady jobs and income, rather than for National Forests or maybe even Small Woodland Owners. Another problem is in the very human need to attach universal truths to personal values. The second problem is fairly easily reconciled with some discussion and editing, but the first problem is fundamental and requires a number of approaches, not just a single vision.

              Gil’s perspective (minus the personal value statements) is completely legitimate for state forestlands — such as Wisconsin’s, where this discussion started — but are not necessarily applicable to many national forests, as Larry and I keep pointing out. Due to the fact that Sharon started this blog several years ago from her perspective as a USFS career professional, much of the discussion has had that focus — but the title of the blog is “forest planning,” not “National Forest planning.” The latter focus is when I usually back away and let others discuss the various processes and acronyms associated with NEPA, NFMA, FEMA, etc. There is a big gulf between forest management constrained by regulations, as exists on government lands, and regulated forest harvests as espoused by Gil and typically practiced on industrial lands. And maybe it would be a good idea to periodically clarify those differences as we make posts that are focused in one direction or another.

              Regarding the Montana Forest Restoration Committee, there have been several discussions on this blog regarding their “principles.” Here are a couple:

              http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/03/15/odd-bedfellows-try-collaborating-to-resolve-conflicts-from-ee-news/

              http://forestpolicypub.com/2012/03/29/collaborative-forest-management-what-the-faca/

              This is one of the relatively rare issues in which Matthew and I have shared a lot of common ground in our perspectives (much of it critical), but I am unsure how to locate that discussion at this point.

              Gil, maybe you could revisit one of these earlier discussions and compare your own principles, as they are developing, with those of the Committee’s as a way of defining differences and identifying similarities?

              • ZBob,
                Keep in mind that a lot of these collaboration things are motivated by the social-license issue on the part of the Greens, who fear the possibility of legislative changes and possible disempowerment.
                The other point is, the mills are looking at this as a survival issue first and foremost, but there is also the idea of an exclusive franchise. The FJRA bill is a perfect example….the volumes are tiny, 300 year rotations in 120 year LP forests. What better way of keeping possible competitors out of your wood basket, even if an honest broker would say, man, that AIN’T enough removal.

                • Well said Bob. I like your ideas and distinction between NFs and other forest management….Your response got me thinking that I should have clarified that the “scenarios” for NF management and correlating timber harvests to which I was referring ought to include harvest figures from state and private lands in conjunction with harvests resulting from NF management…Nice confluence forming here…maybe. 🙂

              • Bob

                Re: “Gil, maybe you could revisit one of these earlier discussions and compare your own principles, as they are developing, with those of the Committee’s as a way of defining differences and identifying similarities?”

                I looked at them – but:
                “Odd Bedfellows” didn’t provide any specific principles to compare against.
                “Collaborative Forest Management” had the same problem.

                –> I need some feedback on my post at http://forestpolicypub.com/2013/10/16/timber-trouble-in-wisconsin/comment-page-1/#comment-21638
                as to how to go forward in a disciplined manner that comes to conclusions rather than just endless circular discussions.

                I agree that it is time to start this discussion over in its own thread. I don’t have the ability to do that or I would have done that at the start. Who is willing to make the opening post? I don’t care whether the opening post includes my numbered organizational thoughts at the bottom of the attached link or is a totally new approach.

                • Let’s do this: Send me a list of numbered “Gil’s Principles” and another list of numbered “Common Grounds” and I will post them. Then I will post the list of “Montana Co-Op Principles”. You will need to assemble a list of all the State Forests and of all the National Forests — being an SAF member, you can probably name these off the top of your head. Then the third post will be a Scorecard: a tabular list of all the state and federal forests with three or four grading columns. One would be Gil’s Principles (GP) and another would be Montana Co-Op Principles (MCP); maybe others for Industrial Forests (IF), Small Woodlands (SW), etc. Then you and I and anyone else that can be coerced can consider the differing perspective, state by state and forest by forest — perhaps get direct feedback from commenters personally familiar with those areas. Systematic Evaluation w/Quantification and 100% sampling. That would certainly give us a considered idea about how practical or otherwise valuable Management Principles really are. How does that sound? We can reference specific earlier discussions — particularly from this string — with links.

                  • Bob

                    You seem to still be missing what my goal is. As I conceived it, this is about finding out what common ground exists between those of us with significant forestry knowledge and experience. I want to know what hope there is for a significant degree of unanimity within the forestry community as to what constitutes sound forestry. I want to find out if there is any chance that we can come up with enough agreement to confront and expose the falsehoods in the environmental community. I want to know if we are going to continue to shoot each other over nit picky details instead of focusing on changing policy for the good of the forests, people, climate change, endangered species and etc.

                    This ain’t about me (“Gil’s Principles”) – I’m just the guy who has been willing to put down what he thinks and use it as a starting point for others to shoot down or improve on. When anyone’s idea is criticized it is only appropriate for them to explain/defend their position. If the others still disagree then it becomes a point of non-agreement and is eliminated from becoming a component of the consensus.

                    Then, if we even make it to some sort of meaningful consensus, we can compare all you want. To me the totality of your alternative approach is not linear enough for me and I just can’t keep up with things this complex without a more orderly approach to determine consensus among the foresters on this blog. That doesn’t mean your idea is bad and if others like your approach better, then, obviously you should proceed with your approach and I will butt out with no hard feelings. But that is just my opinion so you decide.

                    Re: Your process/approach: “Let’s do this: Send me a list of numbered “Gil’s Principles” and another list of numbered “Common Grounds” and I will post them. Then I will post the list of “Montana Co-Op Principles”. You will need to assemble a list of all the State Forests and of all the National Forests — being an SAF member, you can probably name these off the top of your head. Then the third post will be a Scorecard: a tabular list of all the state and federal forests with three or four grading columns. One would be Gil’s Principles (GP) and another would be Montana Co-Op Principles (MCP); maybe others for Industrial Forests (IF), Small Woodlands (SW), etc. Then you and I and anyone else that can be coerced can consider the differing perspective, state by state and forest by forest — perhaps get direct feedback from commenters personally familiar with those areas. Systematic Evaluation w/Quantification and 100% sampling. That would certainly give us a considered idea about how practical or otherwise valuable Management Principles really are. How does that sound? We can reference specific earlier discussions — particularly from this string — with links.”

                    –> I can’t see how we can address “Common Grounds” until we have done steps 1 through 6 in my approach below. IMHO, we have just barely scratched the surface
                    –> I also see no value in including “Gil’s Principles” as it has no ascendency over the “Common Grounds”
                    –> I don’t see how we are going to collect all of the info on management practices for all of these owners and locations and then boil down our comparisons to a single grade for each management type when nothing is pure one way or the other.
                    –> When we get done, our conclusion as to practicality will be based on what we already know to be broken rather than coming to a conclusion on what a group of foresters can agree “ought to be” if sound forestry as we conceive it was applied.
                    –> So since my goal is to find out what a group of foresters can agree “ought to be”, I just don’t think that I am going to spend a whole lot of time to do all of this work only to come to a conclusion that we already know which is that nothing is practical as far as sound forestry is concerned under the current operating conditions where professional foresters have virtually no say and the uninformed public has most of the say even though their actions are perceived by many foresters to be harmful to the health our national forests.

                    Process/approach as presently conceived with modifications and sensed support from others and expressed opposition from only one source:
                    I would appreciate your suggestion for more orderly and better prioritization of sequential steps (sequential discussion threads) as opposed to this currently proposed list:
                    1) What constitutes the full contents of a Sound Forestry toolbox.
                    2) Then totally independently, address what is an appropriate breakdown for classifying National Forest Timberlands into purpose classes.
                    3) Then we can marry the appropriate tools in the toolbox with the NF purpose classes.
                    4) Then we can deal with determining how we determine how much product should be removed where removal is allowed.
                    5) Then we can deal with what adjustments are necessary if the wood products industry doesn’t gear up to handle the desired removals as established in step 4.
                    6) Then we can deal with how to fund the appropriate actions and how to adjust actions for lack of funding for all unfunded activities on all purpose classes.
                    7) State by state BMP’s comparison against “Montana Co-Op Principles” and against our consensus
                    8) Contemplate our navels and decide how we would accommodate or defend against opposition.
                    9) ….. Impose our will on the country through the soundness of our reasoning which will dissolve the opposition and result in parades and rejoicing in the streets for one full week

                    A lot of the kickoffs for each of these threads will come from excerpts of comments in this thread. In addition, each thread will have an outline summary of where we are every so often so that we can correct, clarify and refocus at regular intervals. It’s probably going to fail miserably pretty quick but we won’t know for sure until we try.

                    • We also need to figure out how to take those wheels off the goalposts, too. There are still those who want forestry (on government lands), itself, to die a death of a thousand cuts. Yes, we have recently seen that in our experience with chaparral and bird “enthusiasts”. *smirk* We’ve also seen their hit-and-run tactics, too. I have seen both of them pushing their wares in other venues, too.

                      (Edit) Oddly enough, I just saw a “Become a Chaparralian” ad in my Facebook Timeline. Must…. resist……….. commenting!

                    • Hi Bob and Larry,

                      This is a really interesting interaction between the two of you. I think you are both raising good points and good questions that illuminate just how difficult it is to even agree on how to start something like what you are describing, let alone actually find a pathway to some degree of consensus (Bob is clearly the more cynical of you two about the practical use of principles).

                      Please let me know if I am misunderstanding, but my sense is that Gil is interested in finding common ground around what constitutes 1. “sound” forestry practices, and 2. “appropriate” forestry practices within various contexts. Looking down through Gil’s list, it does appear that “appropriate” forestry practices could mean “doing nothing” in some circumstances, which I think lends greater scientific credibility by not precluding this potential.

                      As I thought about this some more, it really got me questioning whether we aren’t re-inventing the wheel here, and this led me to go back to look again into what is happening with the Montana Forest Restoration Principles (I’ve been out of touch for a couple years on this end of things). I hope this doesn’t open up old conversations that have been hashed and re-hashed too many times already, but I would recommend folks go to the MFRC website and look thoroughly down through all they have accomplished to date.

                      Most notably, the MFR Principles are focused on projects that are classified as forest “restoration”, because this is where the good folks involved in that effort felt there would be the most common ground, particularly when it comes to NF management. Here, they define restoration as “The intentional process which initiates the recovery of an altered ecosystem to a state of ecological integrity.”

                      They also define ecological integrity as “The quality of a natural unmanaged or managed ecosystem in which the ecological processes are sustained, with genetic, species and ecosystem diversity assured for the future. An ecosystem has integrity when it is deemed characteristic for its natural region, including the composition and abundance of native species and biological communities, rates of change and supporting processes.”

                      In light of this, we might begin with the following considerations:

                      1. Should we limit our efforts to consideration of “forest restoration” only? In other words, limit the scope of what is “appropriate” forestry on NF lands in particular to forestry practices that support forest restoration only?

                      If yes to #1,
                      2. Do we agree with the MFR Principles definition of restoration? (I personally like it).
                      3. Do we agree with the MFR principles definition of “ecological integrity”? (I personally like it).

                      If no to #1,
                      2. What types of “non-restoration” forestry activities on NF lands would be appropriate and why?

                      Just thought I’d toss this into the mix…

                    • HI Again,

                      I was just looking through another “successful” effort to find common ground which includes “appropriate” forest management, the Clearwater Basis Collaborative. Again, I hope I am not digging up old issues here, and just point me to where this blog has tackled this already if so. Here’s the link to the CBC. http://www.clearwaterbasincollaborative.org/

                      Of note, I copied the following from their “Agreement and work plan”.

                      “Timber Industry – The annual harvest level from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is expected to increase by 50%. The Selway-Middle Fork project is expected to provide 390 jobs in the forest products industry in Idaho and Clearwater counties over the next decade and the project is anticipated to produce over 120 million board feet of saw-timber and biomass. The Interface Fuels Project, which is a component of the Selway-Middle Fork project initiated by the CBC, will provide eight million board feet of trees to the Blue North Forest Products mill in Kamiah.”

                    • Regarding the Clearwater Basin Collaborative. It was formed five years ago to address specific issues in the Clearwater Basin, and it has focused on management opportunities in selected areas. It is not the same thing as the collaborative group formed last year for the Nez Perce-Clearwater plan revision that I believe the previous discussion on this blog was about (and there has been some confusion about the overlap between the two). I think the former is generally perceived as a better example of collaboration than the latter.

                    • Gil: To say that I seem to “missing” anything when you don’t seem to be bothering to address what I have previously written seems a little disingenuous.

                      When you say: “This ain’t about me (“Gil’s Principles”) – I’m just the guy who has been willing to put down what he thinks and use it as a starting point for others to shoot down or improve on,” you don’t seem to be realizing that yes, this is all about you — you’re the guy that has established a “starting point” that you’d like everyone else to reach some kind of “consensus” on, while you orchestrate and lead the discussion. Your idea, your rules, your game, your words, your move — and starting a new directive at this point isn’t working for me.

                      The fact that you “already know the outcomes” speaks volumes regarding your objectivity. And, certainly, “all of this work” you list is a lot less, total, that this one comment you just posted. You listed numbered “common grounds” easy enough several comments ago, but now you want everyone to go through a “6-step” process of your own manufacture in order to derive them? Way too much work for this blogger, and your projected “rewards” seem very unlikely. I’ll do what I offered — which is not at all how you describe, even though you directly quote my exact words — and that is about as far as I’ll go at this juncture. Do you want to list your principles and common grounds — as you currently perceive them — and have me post them for others to consider and discuss, or not?

                    • Matt: Can you locate the link or links in which you and I and others discussed the “collaborative” efforts of the Montana Restoration group and you challenged me to consider them on a point-by-point basis? I tried the search engine, but couldn’t find the topic that way. It seems that discussion may be coming up again, so it would be nice to not have to begin repeating ourselves — and to be able to reconsider our past positions. Thanks for any help on this.

                    • Thanks for the clarification Jon. I am personally aware of the differences between the CBC and the more recent group dealing with the Forest Plan revision, but others may have them confused. There is also the difference between the CBC proposal and the CFLR project. While there is overlap, these are not one in the same.

                      Hopefully folks can take a look at the CBC website and see that what kind of progress can be made when folks grow to trust each other…Starting small is key for sure.

                    • Thanks to Matthew for providing the links to where these issues have been discussed before, I want to reiterate Jon’s distinction between the Clearwater Basin Collaborative to whcih I was referring and the group that has been meeting as past of the Clear-New NF Forest Plan revision. I don’t know much about the latter, but I would agree with Jon that the former (CBC) is a pretty good examples of what can be accomplished when citizens get together to tackle tough issues in a way that serves as wide a variety of interests as possible. Thanks again for making the distinction Jon. I understand why it is important to make this clarification, especially on this blog.

                    • Bob

                      Re: “To say that I seem to “missing” anything when you don’t seem to be bothering to address what I have previously written seems a little disingenuous.”
                      –> My intention was to ‘address what you have previously written’ along with what everyone else has written in each step of the step by step process. As I have said I don’t think we are doing anything but getting off subject and going around in circles by responding individually to each other. We all have written a great deal and it is overwhelming and must be dealt with in an orderly fashion. We need a collective numbered summary of thoughts appropriate to each component subject area as a single post and then discuss those items one by one. Adding and subtracting and re-summarizing as we progress. BTW the stepwise approach was not my idea. The steps are mostly mine but others contributed and I don’t care if my ideas are thrown out. I don’t care if I misunderstood and confused BMP’s with something else that you sent. I just want to get all of this in one place and correct, add to, subtract from and revise and thereby constantly move forward instead of continuing to go in circles. The blog structure is not suited to a linear process so, imho, we need to impose the step by step structure with a discussion thread for each step.

                      I am not going to proceed with this process, I hope that Mike or someone else will take it up as they see fit. Your appraisal of my motives removes me from any leadership role.

                    • Matthew

                      Thanks for the links to the prior discussions. I think that they make my point. From my point of view, they are just rambling discussions that never seem to come to any consensus or conclusion which is why they reoccur periodically.

                    • Mike

                      I don’t think that we need to limit our discussion to restoration activities because technically anything in the toolbox of sound forest management can be used for restoration activities.

                      So, imho, there are no non restoration activities. Therefore nothing should be eliminated from consideration when making site-specific prescriptions. How could anyone categorically state that clearcuts or intermediate thinnings or herbicides or planting or whatever would never have any role in restoration?

                    • Thanks for you thoughts Gil. I kind of figured you would see “restoration” in a much broader context than I think the MFRC Principles are addressing. I’m glad you responded as you did, because I do think its an interesting discussion that gets to one of the stickier philosophical divergences amongst people on this blog.

                      Whereas “restoration” may have once been limited those areas directly affected by prior human activities, in the age of the Anthropocene, this understanding may be changing (i.e. broadening significantly). While I don’t think this is exactly what you meant Gil, I do think there is a convergence here that could be explored.

                      Because there is mounting evidence that climate change is resulting in a need for a more active approach to forest management in general, even those areas that have not directly been impacted by human activities on the ground could arguably be suitable for restoration. There are certainly gradations of the intensity of forest management activities, which would make for a lively debate as always. But the bigger question for us enviro-types is to ask what “wildness” means, harkening way back to Bill Cronon’s work in the mid-90’s.

                      All of these questions, when put in the context of this blog, seem to eventually come back around to the purposes of NF lands and what we are trying to accomplish. Although Pinchot saw dramatic changes in the landscape during his lifetime, I highly doubt he could have imagined a day when humans activities would directly and indirectly be affecting all of life at a global scale. Thus, while I don’t think the politics would allow for more expansive projects under the MFRC Principles yet, I do like the definitions for “restoration” and Ecological integrity” established under those principles. In theory at least, they could be applied to a broad range of “appropriate” forest management on NFs. See my earlier post for the MFRC link and the definitions to which I am referring here.

                    • Bob – Let’s just drop it and pretend it never happened – neither of us is Lilly white on this – None of this is that important – My apologies for my poor communication skills and expressing my frustrations.

                      Mike

                      Re: “Whereas “restoration” may have once been limited … there is a convergence here that could be explored.”
                      — > It is already defined. As a forester, restoration is nothing new, it happens for all kinds of reasons (insects, disease, fire, storms, soil nutrient deficiency, erosion and etc.). To a forester, restoration is not boxed in by preconceived notions of what ought to be now because it was in the past. To a forester, the goal is always the same, what can we do within the law to restore this stand to health or what needs to be done to replace this stand with a healthy stand without messing up the environment and do it within our budget?

                      Re: “Because there is mounting evidence that climate change is resulting in a need for a more active approach to forest management in general, …”
                      –> The evidence was there over a half century ago but uninformed individuals ignored it and virtually shut down the practice of sound forest management on our national forests. The debate has been raging since people began saying that forester’s didn’t know what they were doing in the mid 80’s and it accelerated with the 80% reduction in harvests on NF timberlands beginning in 1991. Please understand that total wildfire acres burnt steadily decreased until a few years after the 80% reduction in harvests? The number of ignitions didn’t change so, you are going to get more wildfire acres burned as you decrease the diversity of spatial and temporal distribution of stands and increase their density beyond what is healthy. The NSO, old growth and some bad actors were used as a proxy to get foresters out of our Nfs. Foresters predicted what has come true and the results stink.
                      –> Diversity of the ecosystem is a large part of the answer to climate change but it must be meaningful diversity. Homogenizing the ecosystem to overemphasize the least resilient components, like old growth because it looks majestic or the NSO because (sans science) it “might” do better with more old growth, is counter productive. What does the NSO owl have to offer for genetic diversity in terms of climate change? It is being replaced in the evolutionary process by a cousin who is a more aggressive and successful competitor for food, has a much more varied foraging habitat and lives very successfully over a much wider range of climates to the north and the south. Which one are they thinking of shooting, yup, the one that is better suited to handle climate change. Look at Mac’s charts on the RCW and the ruffed grouse elsewhere in this thread and note the direct correlation between decreased harvests and decreased populations.
                      –> Forester’s have the full range of knowledge to manage our forests and the training to know when to call in the ologists and then decide what and how to incorporate the recommendations. By ignoring foresters, an uninformed, emotionally driven society in its wishful thinking continues to harm the very thing that it claims to want to save.

                      Re: “But the bigger question for us enviro-types is to ask what “wildness” means, harkening way back to Bill Cronon’s work in the mid-90′s.”
                      –> Why is the environmental movement so bound up in esoteric thought that has nothing to do with practical solutions based on established science?
                      –> We knew what wilderness was long before Bill Cronon was born in 1954, he obviously is quite eloquent but did he change the definition of “wildness”?
                      —- Wild “of land : not changed by people : not settled or developed” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wildness
                      —- Wilderness http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wilderness?show=0&t=1382764865

                      Re: ‘I do like the definitions for “restoration” and Ecological integrity” established under those principles. In theory at least, they could be applied to a broad range of “appropriate” forest management on NFs.”
                      –> Could you supply that link again, I have not been able to find it since my first brief look at those definitions.

                    • “Forester’s have the full range of knowledge to manage our forests and the training to know when to call in the ologists and then decide what and how to incorporate the recommendations.”

                      Ologists have the full range of knowledge to manage wildlife habitat and the training to know when to call in the foresters and then decide what and how to incorporate the recommendations.

                    • Jon,

                      I agree with your statement about foresters and ‘ologists. Taken in a vacuum, there really isn’t any inherent tension between foresters and ‘ologists. The challenges arise, however, because managers are under pressure to “produce” particular “goods and services” (and I am not necessarily arguing against this). In my mind, therefore, the real questions have to do with the appropriate role of timber, mining, and recreation industries (or others), all of which produce varying levels of political and legal pressures on managers. The fact that the current planning rule requires consideration of social and economic factors speaks to these pressures.

                      Too much of the debate over NF management has been distracted, in my view by the false dichotomy of “active” versus “passive” management. Instead, we ought to be talking about whether FS management is meeting the broad purposes of the NF system as a whole, discerning what these purposes are, where the FS is doing well in meeting these purposes, and where they have room to improve. In the places they are struggling, I suggest we spend more time talking about “realistic” solutions that are respectful of the multiple interests involved, and do not devolve into a “winner take all” mentality.
                      From what I can see, there is no “side” of the debate that has not contributed to the current devolution of thinking about NF management, and it is high time for this conversation to shift course.

                      The new planning rule is an attempt to change this dialogue, I believe, which is why it is gaining lots of criticism from folks most vested in the current “zero-sum” game. NF planning going forward will not be a linear process, but little in our world is actually linear when you stop and think about it…maybe the new rule is just reflecting the reality of life these days…

                  • Gil: I think you are misinterpreting what I write, and also the mental state I am in when I am writing it. Mostly I’m in a bemused, thoughtful, irritated, helpful or humorous state of mind and I think most of my writing reflects that. I can’t really see anywhere that I have “appraised your motives” and — if even I did — why that would preclude you from “any leadership role” in your discussion of principles. Are my appraisals really that powerful?

                    My perspective is that I have spent a few hours of my time — mostly pleasantly, occasionally fueled a bit by Fosters — paying very close attention to your very words and sentences, because you asked me to and because I thought you were making some important points. Then I offered what I thought would be “constructive criticisms”, sometimes cloaked in teasing or disquieting analogies to keep it interesting on my part. Sometimes some people see this type of criticism as very useful in helping to guide their way and/or helping to identify the leaks in their boat as they begin to head out; others take it to be personal attacks and shy away from participating any further, or try to defend themselves from perceived slights.

                    You have just written: “We all have written a great deal and it is overwhelming and must be dealt with in an orderly fashion. We need a collective numbered summary of thoughts appropriate to each component subject area as a single post and then discuss those items one by one.”

                    And I totally agree. Gil, do you even realize that your sentences are precisely what I have been asking you to do and that started all of this 6-step and toolbox sidestepping? You started this discussion, you took leadership, as you say, and now — it seems to me — if you want it to continue you should (in my opinion) “collectively number your summary of thoughts”; and I am also strongly suggesting they be numbered under Principles and/or Common Ground, for your Component Areas. Once you have accomplished that task, THEN we can discuss them “one by one.” Because the will be numbered and they will reflect your current thinking on the very topics you brought up for review.

                    I agree with you (at some level) that we need to “impose” a step-by-step “structure,” I just think we need to do it one step a time. Personally, I have always had enough problems with a two-step than try and learn a six-step, and I guarantee I would probably have to be paid a lot of money to test such a process. Gil, if you could, please just number your current list of “components” and I (or someone else, I’m sure), will post them as well as possible and open them up to discussion. That’s as clear and as helpful as I can be. If you want to hand off to someone else, then that’s okay, too.

                    • Bob

                      We are just too different in how we think. As I’ve said repeatedly, I cannot read between the lines.

                      Re: “Gil: I think you are misinterpreting what I write, and also the mental state I am in when I am writing it. Mostly I’m in a bemused, thoughtful, irritated, helpful or humorous state of mind and I think most of my writing reflects that. I can’t really see anywhere that I have “appraised your motives” and — if even I did — why that would preclude you from “any leadership role” in your discussion of principles. Are my appraisals really that powerful?”
                      –> How can I understand your mental state? It is no wonder that we mis-communicate more than we communicate. Even when I explain what I said, we mis-communicate. How can I take the lead in this proposed topic if I can’t communicate?
                      –> No your appraisals aren’t that powerful because they aren’t true but they are important. With prejudging due to lack of trust I cannot take the lead in this proposed topic.

                      Re: “Then I offered what I thought would be “constructive criticisms”, sometimes cloaked in teasing or disquieting analogies to keep it interesting on my part.”
                      –> What I read is that you had delegated a plan of action to me that was the antithesis of what I was proposing.
                      –> The reading between the lines cloaking doesn’t work. I have tried that with you and others here on this blog and I promise you that it is misinterpreted every time no matter how many smiley faces I add after the comment. I am trying my best to refrain from cloaking.
                      –> Doesn’t consensus seeking usually start with the unrestricted generation of ideas? Doesn’t consensus seeking usually leave the critiquing until after everything is consolidated, edited, organized and put down on paper. Then comes prioritization, critiquing, adding, subtracting and putting down on paper again. Then the process is repeated until only that on which consensus has been reached remains?
                      –> Others provided “constructive criticisms” and I had no trouble understanding or incorporating them.

                      Re: “I agree with you (at some level) that we need to “impose” a step-by-step “structure,” I just think we need to do it one step a time. Personally, I have always had enough problems with a two-step than try and learn a six-step,”
                      –> So your memory isn’t perfect either or should I follow your lead and claim that you haven’t read what I’ve written? Apparently you missed my repeated comments regarding: “linear process”, “one step at a time”, and “sequential”.
                      –> What I heard was that you were not going to allow me to change the approach as I and others considered more effective organizational ways to tackle the problem. Reread what you wrote at: http://forestpolicypub.com/2013/10/16/timber-trouble-in-wisconsin/comment-page-1/#comment-21848 How did I misinterpret that?

                    • Gil: Just to be clear:

                      1) You say: “What I heard was that you were not going to allow me to change the approach as I and others considered more effective organizational ways to tackle the problem.” Then you say (repeatedly) that “you can’t read between the lines.” So is the answer for you to please stop trying (to read between the lines), because you can’t do it? How can I “not allow” you to do anything? My “more effective organizational way” was to simply cut to the chase, develop one set of stable numbers with specific points for what you have said from the outset, and stop dithering all over the place. Certainly you can do whatever you want — but just stop calling on me for my opinion or attention when you do. What lines do you read between that make you think I can “allow” or “not allow” anything?

                      I followed the link you provided and I have no idea how you could have misinterpreted that. But it seems like you have. It just says I don’t want to go down any more side streets with you on this discussion; not until you respond directly to my earlier points — that you specifically requested and then mostly ignored. How can that possibly be interpreted as “allow” or “not allow”? What you do is your business. And if I don’t want to follow your detailed discussion outline anymore, that is mine.

                      2) No, I didn’t miss you repeated comments about “linear process” and so on at all. Did you miss the “6-steps” I was referring to? I was quoting you. There is a huge difference between “one step at a time” and “six steps” (by Gil). I think one step forward rather than six steps sideways, linear or not — and as dictated by someone else — is a Big Difference, even though they both use the root word “step.” And who ever said I had a “perfect memory”? That must just be some more of that “reading between the lines” stuff, because I’ve certainly never made any such claim or assertion. Same with your “appraisals” which I never made, but you have somehow judged to be “wrong” nonetheless.

                      3) Finally, again, do you even read what I actually write? It seems that you are so determined to find hidden rules, appraisals, and claims of mental superiority that you miss the basic nouns, verbs and adjectives. When you write: “What I read is that you had delegated a plan of action to me that was the antithesis of what I was proposing,” I realize that I have no idea what you are referring to. So near as I can tell I am proposing you do exactly what you keep asserting, but to take ownership of those ideas and stop telling everyone else exactly what they need to do in order to reach “consensus” on your ideas and in order to implement your strategies for reaching your own personal goals. You wrote down a numbered list of “principles” and specifically asked me for detailed feedback — which I provided. Then you wanted more feedback. Then more. Then you changed the numbering system. Then you changed the topic. All I have asked for is your updated original list, based on all of the “constructive criticism” you received, so we could post it for more detailed discussion by everyone else. Then you said we needed to do exactly that (but with a lot more other steps first) — how is that an “antithesis”? And, for the record, I can’t interpret smiley faces all that well. And no, I don’t think “consensus” is achieved by the detailed outline you give, and I certainly don’t think “critiquing” takes place AFTER all of the steps you outline. Criticism should be sought and listened to from the very beginning, is how I see it. If it were, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion.

                      If you want to list your Principles and Common Grounds as you’ve come to revise them to this point, then I am willing (and happy) to post them for a separate discussion outside of this string, as you and others have indicated should be done. If you want to do something else, fine, that’s certainly your prerogative and I have no interest (or ability) in stopping you. Or in rehashing any of this stuff too much longer. Your choice.

                    • Bob and Gil,

                      How about you two exchange phone numbers, crack a beer, and have a good conversation to clear things up. 🙂 We’d probably all be interested in the results!

                      Cheers, Mike

                    • Mike:

                      Surely it can’t be that interesting! I got a laugh from Jon’s observation that “Concise, in a relative sense, is not hard to do on this blog . . .” Sometimes I get the feeling I’m in the middle of a Seinfeld episode here.

                      Gil and I live about 2,000 miles apart, so beer in the near future is unlikely. Usually he and I have fairly similar perspectives on most management issues — just not how to discuss those perspectives, apparently! But I think we’ve pretty much run the current string into the ground, so not to worry. If he doesn’t want me to post his ideas for more general review (and a brand new discussion string), I’m certainly not going to press the issue.

                    • Bob,

                      I laughed out loud with Seinfeld reference. Thanks for that! I also got a good chuckle from Jon’s reference to the relativity of being “concise” too…If not in person, maybe you and Gil could have a good phone conversation (cracking the beer in your own respective homes). 🙂 Just a thought. I actually think starting a new post would be a good idea, but at this point I’m not sure how or where to start. Maybe its just not ripe, or maybe a blog just isn’t the right venue…I dunno.

                  • Jon

                    Nice turn of the phrase but it reveals a lack of understanding of the multitude of relationships and priorities within an ecosystem. Mis-prioritization is a major reason for our forests being in the high risk, low vigor condition that they are in.

                    So, lets analyze your implied contention that taking care of the wildlife is a higher priority than taking care of the forest.

                    What are the keystone species that create the ecosystem conditions?

                    Does wildlife create the major characteristics that make the conditions right for trees to grow in? Isn’t it fairer to say that the major ecosystem characteristics are created by the trees, hydrology, geology and climate? Wouldn’t you say that wildlife inhabits the forest because the forest creates the habitat needed by the wildlife? Which is more important? You can have a forest without certain wildlife but you can’t have certain wildlife without the forest which provides the habitat.

                    The evidence is in, getting the cart before the horse doesn’t work real good. To rephrase what I said to Mike in my last post, the ‘ologists’ taking the forefront and dictating forest management (or the lack thereof) hasn’t worked out too well for the NSO, and per Mac’s charts, it hasn’t worked out too well for the RCW or the ruffed grouse. That definitely doesn’t make your case especially when you consider the catastrophic loss of habitat due to fires and beetles which could have been significantly reduced if sound forest management had been allowed to be exercised with accommodation for environmental concerns including the ESA.

                    • Gil,

                      I agree with you regarding the value that forester’s bring to the dialogue around NF management, but I am sensing strong bias of yours that I believe causes you to miss the point folks are trying to make. I don’t think Jon or anyone is suggesting that anyone “dictate” anything to foresters about how to manage forests. Likewise, foresters ought not “dictate” to others what needs to be done. What I think Jon was trying to get at was that it takes a real team effort to bring all the information to the table. We all have our biases in how we see things, foresters, ‘ologists, and everyone else. The best decisions come when we are able to respect the insight that everyone can bring.

                    • Indeed, Mike. It works both ways. It is always good to have options to offer both the Ologists and the foresters (forestologists?). That is why we have those ID Teams. I did work on one Ranger District, long ago, where the planning Forester could not talk with the Wildlife Biologists, without a mediator present, usually the District Ranger. Although foresters have a broad range of knowledge, in many disciplines, no one can knows everything about those “Ologies”. If you are not ready to compromise at an ID Team meeting, perhaps you don’t even belong there. Most of the time, the rules, laws and policies will dictate how we proceed. That will often make those “compromises” much easier to take (and present). Here in California, highgrading and clearcutting are banned, and that makes it easier to exclude those options from the preferred compromise. However, those rules, laws and policies haven’t stopped the continuing litigation, from all sorts of opposing interests. Some will never be happy until the Forest Service stops selling logs, altogether (as we have recently seen, on this blog).

                    • Mike

                      Re: “I am sensing strong bias of yours that I believe causes you to miss the point folks are trying to make. I don’t think Jon or anyone is suggesting that anyone “dictate” anything to foresters about how to manage forests.”
                      –> Foresters have been virtually excluded from the process for 20+ years. Isn’t that the ultimate in dictating? Wasn’t it dictating when the contradicting NSO evidence around and on Simpson Timber’s intensely managed forests was ignored? Wasn’t it dictating when NSO conjecture (since proven false) was used to drastically limit forestry on our NFs in the name of one size fits all old growth worship? Ask Mac what happened when sound forest management was excluded in his NF by dictate. Wasn’t it dictating when harvests were reduced 80% in one sudden move over the protests of foresters, whole communities and industries?
                      –> Aren’t those who ignore results and established science the biased ones? I don’t miss the points that you refer to, I clearly reject or accept them based on their results and or established science.

                      Re: “What I think Jon was trying to get at was that it takes a real team effort to bring all the information to the table. We all have our biases in how we see things, foresters, ‘ologists, and everyone else.
                      –> Why not let Jon speak for himself?
                      –> Since you admit to having biases, please divulge your biases. My first bias is to stick with established science over unproven conjecture/hypotheses. My second bias is to constantly see if anything that I consider to be established science has been disproven.
                      –> How can it be a real team effort when the foresters aren’t invited to the table or are ignored when they do come to the table? How can a successful result ensue if the feelings and intuitions of an uninformed “green” or an ologist specializing in a minor component of the ecosystem have equal or more weight than the generalist who has intense knowledge of the keystone species, more knowledge of the actions necessary to reduce the risk of external forces destroying the ecosystem, and better knowledge of the interactions between all of the ecosystem components?

                      Re: “The best decisions come when we are able to respect the insight that everyone can bring.”
                      –> Is it respectful to discount those who propound established science validated by successful experience when the people discounting have no expertise in the subject area? I don’t pretend to know more about the medical field than a doctor of medicine. So, I don’t understand why so many people insist that they know more about forest ecosystems than a professional forester? Is it that they think foresters are unethical? What makes people in this blog not believe me when I explain what I know to be sound, ecologically balanced, forest management based on 6 years of college training and 38 years of validating experience and keeping my scientific knowledge up to date?
                      –> Wouldn’t it be rather silly to suggest that everyone who thinks that they have insight has meaningful/pertinent insight? That is the problem, the wrong people are generally at the table and in charge and we have 20+ years of proof that the net result is that things are much worse. Even the blissfully ignorant fear mongers and worshipers of “aesthetics at all costs” who aren’t at the table have veto power by litigation. What power does sound forest management have? Where is the respect for the established science of sound forestry on this blog?

                      Re: “I agree with you regarding the value that forester’s bring to the dialogue around NF management”
                      –> As you can tell, it takes a lot to convince me, can you be more specific in terms of what specifically you agree with in terms of activities and priorities rather than dialogue? We have had 20+ years of destructive dialogue on this subject so the word isn’t real high on my values list. Dialogue is often used as a ploy to buy time, obfuscate and equivocate. It is a favorite tool of people who haven’t a leg to stand on including greens and politicians. As some would say talk is cheap, results are what count.

                    • Speaking for himself, my comment on ‘ologists’ was prompted by what I thought was a sentiment that ‘foresters know best.’ Gil has affirmed that belief with this follow-up comment: “How can a successful result ensue if the feelings and intuitions of an uninformed “green” or an ologist specializing in a minor component of the ecosystem have equal or more weight than the generalist who has intense knowledge of the keystone species, more knowledge of the actions necessary to reduce the risk of external forces destroying the ecosystem, and better knowledge of the interactions between all of the ecosystem components?” I am a forester (on paper any way), but I don’t share this hubris.

                      I agree that foresters have demonstrated that they know how to grow trees to produce boards. I don’t think that necessarily translates into being the most knowledgeable on growing diverse ecosystems (including their fauna). Even if foresters can best answer the ‘how’ to grow trees question, they are only one input to the ‘what’ kind of forest do we want question, which has to be answered first.

                      To answer that initial question, I’d like to focus on this other statement by Gil: “You can have a forest without certain wildlife but you can’t have certain wildlife without the forest which provides the habitat.” If you ask a forester to design a forest, it may not have what certain wildlife need. To provide habitat for that wildlife (often at-risk species), shouldn’t you also ask wildlife ecologists or conservation biologists to help design the forest? I think that is what NFMA’s diversity provision should require of the planning process. (It seems likely the result will be a design based largely on historic conditions of important habitat characteristics, prominently featuring trees; do the foresters have a problem with this?) It would then be possible to have a practical discussion of using active vegetation management to produce those conditions.

                    • Jon

                      Re: “I am a forester (on paper any way), but I don’t share this hubris.”
                      –> So is not backing away from knowledge, hubris? A doctor saying to a recalcitrant patient, ‘you can ignore my diagnosis if you want to but if you want to get better, here is what you need to do and these are the specialists that we need to get involved or turn your case over to’, is that hubris? No.

                      Re: “Even if foresters can best answer the ‘how’ to grow trees question, they are only one input to the ‘what’ kind of forest do we want question, which has to be answered first.”
                      –> Jon, this is bogus, the “‘what’ kind of forest do we want question” was answered 20+ years ago and you know it. The people made it quite clear that they #1 want pristine beauty just like it was when they first saw it. They want it uncluttered by anything unsightly that foresters say is necessary to have a healthy forest over the long run. #2 They want a dynamic forest frozen in time to save specific stands or individual trees instead of the forest. #3 They want to stop the evolutionary decline of any cute, cuddly or other idealized forest denizens at any cost. They don’t care when they are told, in certain cases, that the forests left for their children and grandchildren will be poorer for it. Foresters said, no you don’t want what you think you do because these are the consequences of your wishful thinking. The people overruled the foresters. The foresters have been proven correct and people still have the hubris to say they know more than foresters do.

                      Re: “If you ask a forester to design a forest, it may not have what certain wildlife need. To provide habitat for that wildlife (often at-risk species), shouldn’t you also ask wildlife ecologists or conservation biologists to help design the forest?”
                      –> Jon, in the short time that I have been on this blog, I have repeatedly stated that foresters have the education, experience and additional cross training to know when to contact the specialists and can accommodate any recommendations based on established science that doesn’t jeopardize the forest that creates the ecosystem that creates the habitat for the minor species ecosystem component of concern.
                      –> I can document everything that I said yesterday at the beginning of my previous comment on this subject. Why do you choose to ignore the facts? The faux science behind the NSO plan and the consequences associated with the ensuing 80% reduction in NF harvests is fact. The consequences are real, wake up, open your eyes.
                      –> Isn’t it hubris when you ignore any inconvenient facts that might get in the way of your argument?

                    • “The faux science behind the NSO plan and the consequences associated with the ensuing 80% reduction in NF harvests is fact… Isn’t it hubris when you ignore any inconvenient facts that might get in the way of your argument?”

                      The inconvenient fact is that logging is the main reason that both spotted owls and red-cockaded woodpeckers are on the T&E list. The effect of losing old growth and longleaf pine habitat is not ‘faux science.’

                      Here is the summary of spotted owl science in the 2011 5-year review: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/doc4108.pdf

                      I don’t see anything here that indicates loss of old growth is not a significant factor. Logging restrictions are assumed to remain in place. Recruitment of additional habitat is part of the 2011 revised recovery plan. Barred owl competition is a new and visible problem, but no one is suggesting that spotted owls would do better with less old growth. (I suspect they would fare better against barred owls if they had more of what they evolved with.)

                      Here’s a little update on red-cockaded woodpeckers: http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20131104/NEWS01/311040018?nclick_check=1

                      It talks about how things got this way (forestry). It also points out that listed species can be a surrogate for endangered ecosystems. If the RCW hadn’t been listed, it would have been the Louisiana pine snake (and may still be). If it hadn’t been the spotted owl, it would have been something else that depends on Pacific old growth forest ecosystems. If we were to remove the regulatory mechanisms in place for these two key species, I would not be surprised to see other species in this habitat become a priority for listing under ESA.

                      “I have repeatedly stated that foresters have the education, experience and additional cross training to know when to contact the specialists …”

                      I fundamentally disagree with the premise that on public lands it should be up to foresters to decide when to talk to biologists. In general, it should be a collaborative effort to determine when timber harvest is appropriate. When an agency is obligated under ESA to recover a listed species (or when it would like to avoid a new listing), it could make sense to let the biologists determine when to contact the foresters.

                    • “… it could make sense to let the biologists determine when to contact the foresters.” That is the current system, here in the west. However, wildlife biologists cannot always cover every area as well as what might be needed. Several times in my career, us timber folks have found nests and have seen birds. Last summer, we had to drop an entire unit, due to a new active nest we found. In fact, I have done both spotted owl and goshawk surveys, and I even got the juvenile goshawks to answer my imitation back. Some wildlife biologists won’t trust timber folks for anything, though. However, they are the experts, and I always trust them to make the right decisions. They aren’t always right, or objective, though. One example is where a botanist established a buffer around a “dry meadow”, that was mostly “mule ears”, giving it the same 300 foot buffer as a wet meadow. She even put “Meadow Area” signs on an existing cull deck, which was slated for sale as firewood.

                      Also, you cannot assume that owls will not use younger stands to nest in. Yes, they PREFER old growth stands but, since owls and goshawks use the same nesting habitats, those stands are always already occupied. If the suitable nesting habitats are already in use, younger birds will have to find marginal habitat to try and nest in. It is a LOT more complicated to say that “recruitment” is required. Since pairs need a SYSTEM of nests to establish a home territory, “recruitment” is problematic and not very easy to mandate.

                      AND, you might notice I haven’t even mentioned catastrophic wildfire effects. Certainly, wildfires have wiped out more habitats than Federal logging, in recent history.

                    • Jon

                      Re: “Barred owl competition is a new and visible problem, but no one is suggesting that spotted owls would do better with less old growth. (I suspect they would fare better against barred owls if they had more of what they evolved with.)”
                      –> 1) I suspect that after you read these references, you’ll see that the ‘ologists’ stab in the dark focus on homogeneous old growth has done more harm than good.
                      –> 2) The Barred Owl is not a new problem. It was dismissed by the ‘ologists’ in the original recovery plan (See reference “A”).
                      –> 3) Please share your insight on “what they evolved with”?

                      A) –> From the daddy of the NSO: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Spotted-Owls-New-Nemesis.html Smithsonian magazine, January 2009 – By Craig Welch
                      — “we kind of put the blinders on and tried to only manage habitat, hoping things wouldn’t get worse,” Forsman said. “But over time the barred owl’s influence became impossible to ignore.”” “Putting the blinders on” –> Is that real science or is that shooting from the hip via polling unfounded opinions? But, it is even worse because they equated nesting habitat with the optimal foraging habitat as you will see below.

                      B) –> U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – 2011 Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
                      http://www.fws.gov/arcata/es/birds/nso/documents/USFWS2011RevisedRecoveryPlanNorthernSpottedOwl.pdf
                      — PII-4 “Barred owls pose perhaps the most significant short-term threat to spotted owl recovery. … Because the abundance of barred owls continues to increase”
                      — PIII-9 “Invasive animal species are more likely to be generalists, such as the barred owl, than specialists, such as the spotted owl and adapt more successfully to a new climate than natives…”
                      — PA-10 “Recent landscape-level analyses in portions of southwest Oregon and California Klamath Province suggest that a mosaic of late-successional habitat interspersed with other seral conditions may benefit spotted owls more than large, homogeneous expanses of older forests in areas where woodrats are a major component of spotted owl diets” –> This is documented falsehood, they knew about heterogeneity (See “D”) but used false rationalization to ignore the forester’s insight at the time of the original plan. – Note: Woodrats are more predominate where there is more edge effect (See “C-P8”) so heterogeneity comes first then the woodrats (i.e. nesting habitat isn’t the optimal foraging habitat). So the old growth homogeneity ‘blinders on’ was harmful.
                      — PB-9 “The substantial increase in reserved areas and associated reduced harvest (ranging from approximately 1 percent per year to 0.24 percent per year) has substantially lowered the timber-harvest threat to spotted owls””

                      C) –> More on the FAUX SCIENCE: The Northern Spotted Owl in Managed Forests (2007) – Oregon Forest Resources Institute http://www.watreefarm.org/SpottedOwl.pdf
                      — P5 “The Northwest Forest Plan focused on late successional (180 years and older) old-growth forests (LSOG), … Owls consistently use mature and old growth forests for roosting and nesting, and large patches of old growth … were believed to be necessary for survival and successful reproduction. However, a number of recent studies indicate that the developmental stage of a forest does not fully describe suitable owl habitat. …
                      when the big Douglas–firs in a westside old-growth forest begin to die, they are commonly replaced by western hemlocks that can grow in the shade of the old trees, which young Douglas-fir cannot do, and the forest’s suitability as spotted owl habitat diminishes. … In Plum Creek Timber Company’s Central Cascades Habitat Conservation Plan in Washington, the spotted owl population declined while the available suitable habitat remained fairly constant.”
                      — P8 “Limited levels of fragmentation, perhaps better described as patchiness, offer ecotones, or edges, that owls selected to hunt for dusky-footed woodrats. In one study area, owls preferred to perch and roost in a mature stand, but in close proximity to an edge with a high density of preferred prey. Research therefore demonstrates that, within limits, in some areas patchiness may have positive consequences for Northern Spotted Owls by increasing prey abundance and availability”
                      — PA-10 See B-PA-10
                      — P19 “managed forests are important for Northern Spotted Owl habitat for three main reasons. First, a mosaic of forest ages including early seral forest conditions can provide excellent foraging habitat for owls and their prey. … Second, thinning can accelerate the development of late seral characteristics in young stands. Finally, the risk of uncharacteristically severe wildfires in mixed conifer forests is a major threat to Northern Spotted Owls that can be reduced through active forest management including thinning and the use of prescribed fire”

                      D) Information disregarded by the original NSO plan = More FAUX SCIENCE:
                      http://www.greendiamond.com/responsible-forestry/california/reports/Response%20of%20Wildlife%20and%20Aquatic%20Resources%20to%20Even-aged%20Management%20July%202012.pdf
                      — “the highest reported densities of northern spotted owls occurred in what was described as “highly fragmented” forests on Green Diamond’s ownership in coastal California. Similar high owl densities were reported in forests with a history of even – aged management to the east in the Hoopa Reservation and Willow Creek Study Area” –> Note: Green Diamond lands were Simpson Timber lands at the time of the original recovery plan.
                      ”Given that fire has largely been eliminated from managed forests in the redwood region, creating openings through even – aged management is a critical element of maintaining habitat for spotted owls
                      — “high quality habitat capable of maintaining a viable population only occurs in areas where creation of openings through even – aged management maintains habitat heterogeneity … This means there is no single “right way” to manage forests to benefit all terrestrial and aquatic species and natural biodiversity within a region is only maintained through diversity of forest conditions” –> I can’t find my source but the latest survey shows that the areas where even aged management was practiced are the only areas where NSO populations increased.

                      E) http://www.sei.org/owl/meetings/Presentations/March/Pearson.pdf
                      — “Barred Owls spent the more of their time in pole-size and small saw-size forest while Spotted Owls spent more time in older forest”

                      –> In conclusion, from the above and coursework, my opinion is that the focus on old growth homogeneity in the NSO recovery plan drove the barred owls into more direct competition with the NSO and made things worse because the ‘ologists’ acted too fast and didn’t get the science right and in an emotional panic harmed the very thing that they were trying to save.

                    • Well done, Gil!! Most of what you presented is true, to my experience level. The rest of it seems quite accurate and plausible. Yes, both owls and goshawks need nesting habitats, and that is what limits their populations, to a great extent. They both also need larger, more varied swaths of land for their foraging habitats. Many Forest Service wildlife biologists also are worried about losing nesting habitats, through catastrophic wildfires. Those habitats are most at-risk, due to a lack of management over decades, or even a century. I’ll bet we will be thinning and burning in “protected” areas in the next 50 years. Last summer, we took one unit and thinned trees in the 10-15″ dbh range, preparing it for a prescribed fire. Such plans have to be part of a bigger project, to make the economics work.

            • Bob, Larry and Mike

              I will pick up the process in a separate post at a latter time but let me first speak to the big picture and get your feedback on a plan of attack.

              FENCE MENDING:
              My apologies for misinterpreting or missing the intent of anyone’s words. I am as misinterpreted as anyone else. I am not trying to twist anyone’s words nor am I trying to force anyone to reply or agree to my opinions. You have to trust me on that like I trust you and accept your frustration with my detailed organizational effort. I have read what has been said, but it is a lot and some didn’t stick, some I didn’t understand, and maybe I skipped over something – My sincere apologies. Where I have used a person’s name and quotes, then those are the exact words of that person. I accept that they may have been moderated or explained in more detail elsewhere but trying to pull all of these comments together and straighten out misunderstandings is an extremely difficult iterative process – patience is required. I would like to continue the process but if I’m not the person, then all you have to do is say so and I will butt out. I continue to be open to criticism and fully appreciate your/anyone’s participation.

              GUIDING THOUGHTS:

              What I have been trying to do with my last and previous posts on this subject, is to come up with a toolbox that contains all of the options available to sound forestry. My apologies to Bob for changing the discussion structure but, I’m not sure that we have yet achieved the right organizational structure for this toolbox and that is extremely important to making progress. I contend that defining the contents of the tool box does not make my proposals more suited to industrial forestry. The tool box merely contains sound forestry components some of which are only pertinent to industrial forestry but it does not require that they be applied across the board.

              In this regard, I refer to Mike’s statement: “In my view, therefore, “sound” forest management is based upon the context and purposes of the lands being managed.”
              –> I would turn this statement on its head and say that sound forest management is sound forest management. I would say that ownership, laws, “context and purposes of the lands being managed” does not change what constitutes sound forest management. I would say that “ownership, laws, “context and purposes of the lands being managed” simply limit/dictate which of the tools in the sound forest management toolbox can’t, can, or must be used. In my humble opinion any other approach is divisive and leaves no room for a consensus. Gallbladder surgery is sound medicine, it just isn’t always appropriate.

              When we get the toolbox filled, we will be able to discuss what tools are appropriate where. But, it would seem to me that before we can discuss what tools are appropriate for use on National Forest Timberlands, we would have to break down these NF timberlands into at least three purpose classifications as I described in my last post (i.e. “Wilderness/Roadless”, Specific Needs Set asides, and Active Management). Are we ready to say that intensive forest management could never be considered for Active Management areas on National Forest Timberlands?

              Related to this is Mike’s statement: “This pressure to produce timber volumes commensurate with what the industry needs, in turn, can influence otherwise “sound” National Forest management” and I would add that the same applies to the wants of environmentalists. Part of the “sound” in sound forest management is determining appropriate product removal volumes on active management areas. To me the wood products industry has no say in determining the “sound” upper limit. On the other hand the power of the purse gives them everything to say in determining what level below the “sound” upper limit can be moved to market. We can’t let this fear of pressure drive our decision making process. If it arises, it can be easily dealt with by regulations based on scientifically based, appropriate allowable cut calculation methodology.

              CONCLUSION:
              I am very linear in my thought processes. I am having trouble dealing with everyone’s very specific thoughts covering a very broad range and coming at me like multiple random shotgun patterns. Does anyone have a better idea at how to deal with this than my prioritized approach below addressing:
              1) What constitutes the full contents of a Sound Forestry toolbox.
              2) Then totally independently, address what is an appropriate breakdown for classifying National Forest Timberlands into purpose classes.
              3) Then we can marry the appropriate tools in the toolbox with the NF purpose classes.
              4) Then we can deal with determining how we determine how much product should be removed where removal is allowed.
              5) Then we can deal with what adjustments are necessary if the wood products industry doesn’t gear up to handle the desired removals as established in step 4.
              6) Then we can deal with how to fund the appropriate actions and how to adjust actions for lack of funding for all unfunded activities on all purpose classes.
              7) Then we can …………

              • Gil, I think we are saying the same thing, but just coming at this form different angles. I’m fine with how you are characterizing “sound” forest management and “appropriate” forest management…works for me. I also think your “linear” approach lays things out nicely so we can all have a look and see where we stand. Your particular process, linear as it is, seems logical and useful to me. The details concerning what is “appropriate” are really going to be the where the rubber meets the road, and here I think Jon’s response below eloquently captures the essential questions and challenges involved. By the way, I don’t know if you were referring to me in the beginning of your post, but I don’t think any fences need mending…. Its all good on my end. Just one of the hazards of the blogosphere I suppose.

          • Gil – I found it interesting that you came up with the same three ‘management areas’ I have for simplifying planning: no logging, logging for purposes other than timber production, and logging where timber production is a goal (I would have called both of the last two ‘active management’). I think you can find these distinctions in the new FS planning rule, too. (And Mike, the forest planning process will develop scenarios and evaluate how much harvest and volume would be likely to occur in each.)

            But there is still going to be the problem of identifying lands ‘having no significant environmental concerns.’ You recognize the likelihood of differing opinions, and you defer to science, but as you recognize, there are differing opinions about science.

            It seems to me that the real science issue is what to do with uncertainty and risk. You seem to be asking for a high burden of proof that a risk exists. I think the substantive requirements of ESA and NFMA to protect species at risk are generally interpreted to place a burden on the agencies to show a high likelihood of success, which requires them to show that risk does NOT exist (or has been mitigated and minimized).

            So your proposed process might end up with less ‘active management’ than you think. But it would be useful to consider management alternatives that have different levels of risk (though there is also the problem of characterizing differences in risk in a meaningful way).

            • Excellent summation Jon. I really enjoyed your post and I think you have captured the essence of the issues at had quite well. Really well done!

              The core of the issue, as Jon states, is dealing with uncertainty and risk, and this has always been the substance underlying agency discretion. Going one more layer down in the analysis (or maybe it should be up), we come to the layer that deals with trust, the bedrock of all collaboration and ultimately the primary determinant factor in dealing with uncertainty and risk, trust in the motivations and integrity of others. Thus the most relevant questions are centered around building trust, or at least the “trust but verify” mindset. Thank you Jon. Really well said.

            • Jon and Mike

              Thanks for the feedback – I am well aware of the pitched battle inside this blog which pales in comparison to the pitched battle in the real world. I just want to see what kind of consensus we get in this blog amongst those of us who are somewhat informed on the science of forestry but have differing experiential viewpoints.

              Agree on “appropriate” but if we don’t get the horse before the cart we might get further down the road than we think.

              Re:
              – “the problem of identifying lands ‘having no significant environmental concerns.’”
              – “the real science issue is what to do with uncertainty and risk. You seem to be asking for a high burden of proof that a risk exists”
              – “might end up with less ‘active management’ than you think”
              –> For now this is our own little pretend world, if we can come up with some reasonable degree of agreement, then we can start hypothesizing about how to contend with opposition after the non-forester environmentalists in this blog respond to what we conclude. Maybe that is step #7

              Again thanks for your feedback

              • Here is the latest plan based on feedback from Jon, Mike and Bob
                Any bets on how far we get before we loose interest or go Zork!!!!!

                1) What constitutes the full contents of a Sound Forestry toolbox.
                2) Then totally independently, address what is an appropriate breakdown for classifying National Forest Timberlands into purpose classes.
                3) Then we can marry the appropriate tools in the toolbox with the NF purpose classes.
                4) Then we can deal with determining how we determine how much product should be removed where removal is allowed.
                5) Then we can deal with what adjustments are necessary if the wood products industry doesn’t gear up to handle the desired removals as established in step 4.
                6) Then we can deal with how to fund the appropriate actions and how to adjust actions for lack of funding for all unfunded activities on all purpose classes.
                7) State by state BMP’s comparison against “Montana Co-Op Principles” and against our thoughts under Bob’s close supervision 🙂
                8) Contemplate our navels and decide how we would accommodate or defend against opposition.
                9) ….. Impose our will on the country through the soundness of our reasoning which will dissolve the opposition and result in parades and rejoicing in the streets for one full week. 🙁

                • Gil: Not going to bite on the “latest” plan — now for toolboxes — until you begin to respond to specific points made during the discussion of your earlier “principles” and “common ground” pronouncements and efforts.

              • Hasn’t Congress recently passed various pieces of legislation that does just the exact opposite of what is being claimed here? For example, see Section 106 of Healthy Forest Restoration Act for “balance of harms.”

                • Of course, the Appeals Courts always seem to judge the perceived harms of projects to ESA species as being bigger than the perceived harms of doing nothing. Yes, their politics often require them to embrace preservationism, thinking that there are little to no costs to inaction. Do Appeals Courts ever defer to the analysis of harms to the Agencies? I see this “non-deference”, regarding salvage projects, all the time. Example, giving ALL of a wildfire’s burned acres to the blackbacked woodpecker, disregarding the inevitable re-burns, and the fact that BBW’s use the habitat for only 6-8 years. Where is the “balance”?!?!

  9. Matt, Tree and others of similar persuasion — Please, please take a few moments and visit this webpage. http://www.wvmcconnell.net/?page_id=718. Is this what you want for the children of forest dependent counties?

    Then, if you’re still game, take a look at the one – http://www.wvmcconnell.net/?page_id=188.

    The disastrous decline on harvest on the Apalach is due entirely to F.S. non-management, . The forest industry has a vigorous harvesting infrastructure and a strong market for sawtimber, pulpwood, veneer logs, and energy wood (14 MW biomass-fired power plant and the nation’s largest pellet plant). All of whom have repeatedly requested an opportunity to help the F.S. manage its timber resources. The forest is now cutting 5% of its annual growth.

    From California to Vermont , from Florida to Washington, the story is the same. What a pitiful waste of our natural resources and what a shameful mis-management of our public lands. Ask yourselves, Is it time for a change?

    • Mac

      Thank you for the tremendous link at: http://www.wvmcconnell.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/TIMBER-RESOURCE-MGMT-Apalach-powerpoint2PPTX.pdf

      Page 9 = RCW population dives right along with harvest level and comes back up slightly when harvest comes up slightly – Those wildlife biologists really know their stuff don’t they? The last time that I looked, the RCW colony site on the nearby Noxubee Wildlife Refuge run by the USFWS was a disaster with midstory hardwood branches right next to the RCW cavities. Raccoons and snakes don’t even have to get any pitch on them to get to some of the cavities. As I have mentioned before, a former employer entered into a RCW HCP and was able to show the FWS that we knew more about what was good for the RCW than the USFWS did.

      Page 11 = The same story for the the ruffed grouse – The population drops in direct proportion to harvest levels = “The ruffed grouse, along with many other game and non-game wildlife species is dependent on early successional habitat created by forest disturbances, principally timber harvesting. Reduced harvesting is associated with a declining population of this iconic game bird of the forested upland”

      Same story as the NSO where biologists’ emotions rather than sound science has prevailed. What is the matter? Why can’t the environmentalists see that their emotions and focus on aesthetics and single species is counter productive? They are not helping and, in many cases, they are actually harming the very thing that they want to save. They will not concede their mistakes because their pride and need to be right is more important than the environment = Faux Environmentalism.

    • Great graph on the RCW and ruffed grouse. Good stuff mac. Pretty much highlights that ESA lawsuits have nothing to do with the species….but all to do with policy change. Memo to enviro propaganda ministry: Petition USFWS to list ruffed grouse so natural wildfire can be “re-introduced” into eastern forests. It is neat that “eastern enviros” are embracing some clearcutting for early seral species habitat. Your “population trends” will eventually be noticed by the public…and will be very embarrassing to the greens. The bungling of the single species tyranny policy. It will most likely coincide with the coming “timber famine.” Nothing like a high lumber price crisis to give a push to justifying “sensible” forestry. I doubt a lib state like Vermont is going to embrace “re-introduction” of wildfire…when they can’t even embrace “re-introduction” of the wolf. Besides…why burn up all that wonderfull biomass that Bill McKibben is using to heat Middlebury College.

      Good stuff Mac.

      • Derek: If I was a Vermonter I would NOT want wildfire reintroduced, either. Wildfire is generally a terrible thing — why would anyone who knows what they are doing want it at all. However, fuel treatments followed by regular prescribed burns — as the Indians used to do — would be good for lots of reasons: aesthetics, economics, wildlife habitat, clean water, clean air, recreation, old-growth management, etc. And I’m with them on the wolf issue, too. I just don’t like their winters so much as the steady rains I’ve been conditioned to like here in the Northwest.

  10. I notice in the first article in the series it states:

    Laona’s economy is tied to the forest, and so are its schools. Twenty-five percent of federal forest revenue gets reserved for the schools.

    I also have noticed that in some of the videos in the series timber industry officials make the same claim. However, isn’t that technical not true? Didn’t the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 did away with the 25% revenue sharing and replace that program with a system that allows states or counties to choose to receive the average of the 3 highest payments for FY 1986 to FY 1999 in lieu of the regular 25% payment?

    Also, according to the article, there hasn’t been a lawsuit of a timber sale on the CNNF during the past 3 years.

  11. Hello: I just got done reading the three articles in the series and also watching all the videos that accompany the series.

    Unless I missed it, in the entire series the Global Economic recession is mentioned zero times. The only mention of the housing market collapse was this sentence: “Forestry jobs dropped from nearly 700 to just 118 in the county between 2008 and 2010 partly as a result of the housing crash, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.”

    Furthermore, there was zero mention in the entire series about the Pulp and Paper Industry troubles related to a lack of paper consumption and a dramatic increase in China’s Pulp and Paper Industry, as presented in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “Paper Cuts” investigative series.

    This is in addition to some of the timber industry exaggerations about the very small amount of Canada timber being imported by Wisconsin mills, and false information from the timber industry about 25% revenue payments.

    Turns out my initial letter to series editor John Farek was pretty much on the money.

    • Matthew

      I too just got through reading the three articles and looking at the videos.

      Apparently your letter was received too late in the production process to allow them to conform to your wishes. What he left out that you were so concerned with is irrelevant. There is obviously a need for the wood or people wouldn’t want to increase the cut. The close grained wood that they were talking about has nothing to do with pulp and paper or the Chinese or declining paper consumption. The lumber that I saw in the sawmills and heard them discussing the need for better CNNF forest management to produce logs with fewer defects (heart rot) has to do with wood flooring, cabinetry and other fine quality hardwood solid wood products of great beauty which are generally produced from maple, yellow birch and other premium species.

      Your concern regarding “Forestry jobs dropped from nearly 700 to just 118 in the county between 2008 and 2010 partly as a result of the housing crash” is also irrelevant as housing starts are coming back. It’s a good thing that all of those people didn’t take your advice and just give up and sign up for unemployment.

      So, Surprise, Surprise – I disagree with you. Would you expect anything different? 🙂

      1) I thought the article was very balanced with the environmentalists having their full say.

      2) It was great to see the collaborative effort that was underway with the full support of all sides of the issue.

      3) I hope that I am wrong, but you seem to want to use any possibility of impending doom to dissuade the people of Wisconsin from making a living so that the CNNF can be put on the shelf and out of the reach of people who want the best for both worlds. They appear to want to fight to keep their jobs and they and I believe that more sound forest management will make for a healthier forest and their collaborative efforts seem to show that they don’t want to cause any significant damage to the environment. I am certain that it can be done if reason prevails and sound forest management is employed.

  12. Folks, I just came across this letter:

    Preserve the work of forestry’s ‘greatest generation’

    EDITOR: Journalist Tom Brokaw coined the phrase “Greatest Generation” in part to refer to the accomplishments of Americans, starved by the Great Depression, who achieved great productivity both at home and abroad. The legacy of this great generation included forest restoration work done by the Civil Conservation Corps after the tragedy of the cutover. This generation also developed silviculture methods in the United States Forest Service’s Argonne Experimental Forest in northern Wisconsin — practices still in use today.

    This generation left us with beautiful emerging forests developed, as Theodore Roosevelt envisioned, “to build America forever.”

    The work of that great generation of foresters — “heroic,” as I described in my testimony before Congress — is crumbling.

    Some say tourism should take forestry’s place. Then why are Forest County property values plummeting? Others say there is no demand for forest products. Then why does every Canadian National train enter Wisconsin loaded with Canadian forest products, and why have Canadian pulp imports to the U.S. increased 50 percent over the past decade?

    The memory of the Greatest Generation of foresters deserves better than an under-budgeted forest service. Let’s leave a better legacy to future generations and work to restore the health of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest through collaborative efforts.

    Jim Schuessler,
    executive director, Forest County Economic Development Partnership,
    Crandon

    • I’ve seen Jim Schuessler’s name in some of the comments sections on the Timber Troubles series. In one comment Jim basically told me to mind my own business since I live in Montana, which is strange because we’re talking about federal public lands and, besides, my family goes back 6 generations in rural Wisconsin.

      But what does Jim’s letter prove or really say anyway? Does any of the information Jim presents really over-shadow, or hold more importance, than all the other real-world economic information already presented in this comment section? It seems to me that Jim just places somewhat irrelevant soft-ball questions on a tee and then knocks the soft-ball questions out of the park, but what does that prove?

      I mean, Jim says, “Others say there is no demand for forest products.” In reality, who are these “others?” I mean, I’ve never once heard anyone say “there is no demand for forest products.” What I, and many others, have said is that demand for most forest products (lumber, paper, shipping pallets, high-end wood flooring, etc) is down because of the economic crisis and is unlikely to recover to pre-Great Recession numbers anytime soon, if ever.

      Even now, as we are told that the US Housing market is “recovering” the “recovery” still means that we are only building 5 houses for every 10 houses we were building during the boom. So, this “recovery” really means we still building only about halve as many houses. And what do you suppose the commercial real-estate market looks like? How many less strip malls, office complexes, etc are we building in 2013 than, say, in 2000? On-line shopping has exploded leaving many “brick and mortar” businesses in the dust, while a growing number of “office” jobs have become remote jobs where employees sit in their PJ’s and work from their own home. All of this combined puts a huge dent in demand for lumber, plywood, cheap office furniture, etc. How can these major economic factors not impact the forestry sector of the economy?

      Jim’s other questions about why are Canadian companies shipping lumber or pulp into the US are equally as “soft-ball” but also are presented in a way that doesn’t at all take into account the very non-liner, complicated role of global economic realities, corporate purchasing agreements, NAFTA, etc. Does Jim simply chose to ignore these other factors, not let readers know about these factors, or is he perhaps unaware of the complicated, complex economics behind most all trade and manufacturing in a globally inter-connected world.

      Once again, as Mike Wood rightfully put it above, “we live in a complex, interconnected world in which ’cause and effect’ are not always linear.” The whole premise of the Wisconsin Timber Troubles series appears to be that the CNNF isn’t logging as much as they said they would in an out-dated 25 year old forest plan. Well, what about the other promises made in that 1980s era forest plan related to biodiversity, soils, long-term viability of species, invasive weeds, etc?

      • The recent rate of U.S. new home construction is even more bleak than Matthew suggests. Here’s a graph of U.S. housing starts from 1959 to mid-2013. The recovery’s (sic) high point (March 2013) took us to the low point of each of the last four recessions. And housing has been dropping since.

        Perhaps when (if?) Millennials manage to find family-wage jobs and move out of their parents’ parent’s homes we’ll see a sustained recovery in new home construction. Alternatively, maybe the combination of Boomers downsizing and Hipsters gentrifying urban ghettos into condos means that new suburban home developments are an endangered species.

    • I didn’t read the series, but none of the comments here brought out this apparent Forest Service response:

      “Forest supervisor Paul Strong points out that the Chequamegon-Nicolet serves multiple purposes. He acknowledged that the forest has fallen way short of its maximum cutting levels. He said that’s due to a lack of money for federal staff to survey land, propose plans, get environmental reviews and mark trees before private loggers harvest them.

      “‘There’s no forest in the system across the United States that cuts at their allowable sale quantity. Our annual budget for the agency simply doesn’t allow it,’ Strong said.”

      http://www.seattlepi.com/news/science/article/Batttle-simmers-in-N-Wis-national-forest-4909602.php

      • Thanks for highlighting this Jon. On October 17th I made this comment, which also makes some of the same points raised by the CNNF Supervisor:

        I’m not aware of very much on-going appeals/litigation on the CNNF. In a video that I viewed on-line about the series (which I also felt was unbalanced and didn’t mention once any of the real-world economic issues facing the entire US economy, not just the timber industry), the CNNF Supervisor claims they don’t have the money/resources to do more logging and that their are other values, resource issues, etc at play on the CNNF that also might be impacting logging volumes. I believe the CNNF forest plan was done in the mid-80s. So the timber volumes/goals in that plan are likely very out-of-date, just like the entire plan. I mean, lots has happened over the past 30 years, right?

        • Matt: Didn’t the call those 1980s plans “10-Year Plans?” I remember being involved in a few of them until they turned out to be committee meetings where almost everyone was paid to attend, except me and a small handful of others that didn’t have day jobs. They didn’t work here, either.

          The USFS has plenty of money and a large number of employees. The fact they choose to spend their budget on matters other than forest restoration or private job creation speaks volumes. It’s not a lack of money that is holding things back, it is their priorities in spending the money that is the actual problem.

  13. Re: prioritizing (zoning) and timber management intensity. We did this on the Ocala N.F. back in 1972 and came up with 12 “Units” and 27 “subunits’ (land management areas that will be managed for the optimum combination of compatible uses for which its character best suits it) on 366,000 acres. The unit or subunit extent was determined by the soil and vegetation modified by man’s past influence and its planned use.

    The plan had 3 timber management intensity levels –

    1. “None” No cutting except hazard trees along roads and trails.

    2. “Service management” Timber is manipulated, along with other vegetation, to support management objectives not compatible with sustained yield. No rotation or acreage control. No ASQ. Do what needs to be done to move the vegetation towards the desired end condition. (This drove the timber people in the R.O. wild.)

    3.Standard management” Management under even-age systems, modified as necessary to be compatible with other uses of equal or greater importance.

    The Ocala Plan was primarily conceptual and broad policy-focused and was to be followed by Unit plans that would quantify timber harvests, etc. This all ended when the new Supervisor arrived and put an end to such foolishness.

    • NFMA would probably have disrupted this in 1976 any way, but these concepts would have been compatible with the 1979/1982 planning regulations. The Ocala was ahead of its time maybe – especially the focus on a ‘desired end condition.’ What might have changed since then is the weight that non-timber ‘planned uses’ must be given in determining the desired condition, and the extent of the area where this is being proposed in lieu of ‘standard management.’

      I would not say that the second category is ‘incompatible with sustained yield.’ It’s just not appropriate to establish volume targets for these areas based on what the expected yield is. Acreage targets for producing and maintaining desired conditions could be used.

      This is something to keep any eye on under the 2012 planning rule. The draft directives (section 64) replace the concept of ASQ with PSQ and TPSQ, but these are both “based on expected harvests, for any purpose, on all lands in the plan area.” If these are viewed as a target (as ASQ was), this could lead to pressure to produce timber volume from areas where timber harvest is not an objective in the forest plan.

        • Concise, in a relative sense, is not hard to do on this blog …

          I’m not sure what you are asking for cites for. The draft directives are here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/planningrule/home/?cid=stelprdb5403924.

          This page includes a link to the rule itself. The particular point I was addressing about timber volume is covered under 36 CFR 219.11(d)(6), but this just repeats language from Section 13 of NFMA (except that it does not use the term ASQ). This passes on to the FS directives the job of defining ‘quantity which can be removed from such forest annually in perpetuity on a sustained-yield basis.’

  14. Thanks Jon. I’m just trying to get back up to speed on the Planning and Rule and was interested in any briefings from sources you trust. I’ll do my own homework though, no crib notes at hand I suppose. 🙂 The information you’ve provided work great.

  15. Mike Wood, Thanks for the link. I’m curious what it is about the Clearwater Basin Collaborative and their agreement/workplan you find “successful”? What do you see as being actionable out of that document and how? BTW, I like the piece you clipped, has a great flow eh? 😉

    Do you think layering another regulatory-type body on top of the FS is a good idea? Why/whynot? (sorry if you’ve already expounded on this…point me to it)

    Matt, quit digging up all that old stuff!!!!!! I’m over it…lightened up a little and life is better for it. Made good on what I said in the point/counterpoint debate. Actually more or less in violent agreement with G-Mac.

    As far as ICL and Mark Rey, I guess I’m not sure what you find wrong with that, but in my experience, ICL has made a strategic move to stay involved in/influence ALL the discussions. Something about keeping your enemies closer, I guess….probably why they are so heavily vested in collaboration.

    • JZ,

      In my view, success is defined by a positive change in the social dynamic in which decisions are made, even more than a specific outcome from the decision on the ground. From what I know of the CBC through conversations with a couple friends involved in that effort, they have come closer to achieving the illusive “collaborative” mindset in their group than in other efforts. This builds social capacity to take on additional projects over time, which is what is sorely lacking and desperately needed in too many places from what I can see.

      Although nothing in life is guaranteed, my sense is that the CBC have garnered a sufficient level of support from a broad enough cross-section of interests that the projects they are designing will actually come to fruition. It has been a long road and has required a tremendous dedication on the part of several individuals (including the local FS folks as well as ICL) being willing to step beyond the normal way of doing business to keep at least most folks at the table. Again, we can’t know for sure, but I think they’ve got a pretty good shot and creating positive change on the ground. Others may know more or have more updated information though. Mine is a few months old…

  16. Square enough answer Mike. Thanks. And thanks for not using the term social “license”. I like “capacity” better.

    The regulatory-type body comment/question was aimed at collaboration/collaboratives in general, not a specific group. Seems to be the way things are going (legislative exemptions for collaboratively developed projects, etc), which I disagree with for all the reasons Mr. Macfarlane suggests, however I do believe that a well structured and governed collaborative group can be a great advocacy voice for a lot of interests, including the Agency as a whole….just not at the ground level.

  17. Hi JZ,

    From my reading of the planning rule, it seems like the FS has found the “sweet spot” for collaboration. I could be missing something, but it seems like they are giving some level of preference to decisions formed through a collaborative effort, rather than through the traditional NEPA pathway. I know some folks feel this excludes other citizens form having an equal say, but I’ve grown to be more comfortable with this over the years. There is actually very little in our democratic system in which we have direct democracy, even when it comes to other “public interests”, and I am not sure exactly why NF management should be any different. Theoretically, the FS could overly favor collaborative decisions to the absolute exclusion of non-local public interests, but I don’t see this happening for a whole variety of reasons. I am also not advocating for the elimination of legal recourse as I know some would favor, mainly because this sets a really awful precedent that actually does cut to the core of our democratic state.

    In the end, I believe collaboratives change the social dynamic of NF management in the sense that they open the door for local and regional interests to think collectively, and in this day and age, this is an increasingly rare mindset.

    • How “sweet” could that spot be if litigation is continued by the “non-participators”? One small side doesn’t participate because their extreme views are not accepted and embraced but, they claim they have been excluded. The other opposite side is more than happy to exclude their opponents point of view, resulting in their opponents non-participation. Then, we have the same problems as we had before. Lawsuits, instead of collaboration, consensus and compromise. As the legal loopholes close, the frustration of the “serial litigators” goes higher and higher. I’m guessing this is a “natural” progression, as we explore legal reforms, towards their logical conclusions.

      • I don’t dispute anything you say Larry. But you are describing events that are outside the control of the FS, whereas the rule itself is more within their control. The social dynamics will continue to play themselves out, as you say, but this doesn’t mean the rule itself is flawed. Perhaps we are expecting too much from a planning rule if we are looking for all problems to be solved by it…

        • The Rule should see these realities, and address them. Otherwise, it is just not effective. Maybe there just isn’t a way to make it effective, and we’ll see the non-participators formally excluded, if they don’t want to go with collaboration, consensus and compromise. That seems to me, to be the logical outcome of the current trajectory. Yes, I do realize that there are problems to overcome, to make the process fair and transparent but, some groups will never call that kind of system, which allows everyone to present their points of view, “fair”. Those in power will not willingly give up that power, and that seems to apply to collaborative groups. Maybe each proposal should be picked apart by the groups to arrive at the best “balance of harms”, using established science. I wouldn’t consider that “soft” science to be either “established”, “sound” or “site-specific”.

    • Mike said: “I could be missing something, but it seems like they are giving some level of preference to decisions formed through a collaborative effort, rather than through the traditional NEPA pathway.” The NEPA issues associated with collaboration are real, but I kind of get the feeling that many believe that the ends (a more strongly supported decision) justify the means (cutting NEPA corners). Judges don’t have the latitude to ignore the traditional NEPA pathway (unless Congress gives it to them, which I am not advocating).

      There are not a lot of rules for developing a proposed action to start the NEPA process. One is that a decision can not appear to be already made prior to the NEPA process. (I know this from the personal experience of having my email cited in court to reverse a Forest Service decision for this reason; it was taken out of context of course ;-). ) The more attention and energy that is put into a collaborative proposed action, the more a judge is likely to consider the possibility of pre-decisional agency bias. (I do agree with the intent of collaboration to focus the process on a more realistic decision space.)

      Then there is the Federal Advisory Committee Act. If it looks like an agency has established a ‘collaborative group’ it will need to be careful how it uses the group and refers to what it produces. The more it looks like the agency is following a particular group’s ‘advice,’ the more that group might start to look like an advisory committee, which would trigger other legal requirements in FACA.

      Regardless of how the NEPA process begins and what collaboration may provide, the agency needs to follow the law through the process. That means, in particular, that environmental effects of the proposed action must be considered (including those identified from outside of the collaborative group), and alternatives must be considered to the proposed action that respond to these impacts (perhaps including alternatives submitted from outside of the collaborative group). I would hope and expect that the final plan would not be identical to a collaborative proposed action, but would respond to public comments.

      • thanks Jon. I think you’ve clearly illustrated at least some of the reasons why there’s so much concern about the approach the Nez Perce Clearwater NF is taking to writing it’s new plan, e.g. these excerpts from its draft “How Working Groups Will Function” memo: “Participants of the Clearwater Nez Perce forest planning summit decided that there would be one collaborative group representing the diversity of interests in the forests with the ability to break into smaller multi-interest working groups when needed. Because they represent a diversity of values and interest they developed the following set of rules and protocols to make recommendations to the US Forest Service regarding the forest plan revision” …. “New members will be recruited through January to create diverse working groups. The purpose of new members is to fill missing interests or knowledge. The new members must agree to the rules of the collaborative group and must undergo a thorough briefing (covering both the protocol and what has been decided upon, to date). Briefing of new members will be shared by the working group and the USFS. New members cannot go back retroactively to address decisions already made by the full group. Identified alternates to members will be allowed. If a member is absent they are responsible for finding and informing their alternate. If participating in the absence of a group member, alternates will have full voting privileges. The full group may invite people to come in to present their point of view, but they will not have voting privileges” …. “… the collaborative will review and consider input and comments from the public received at meetings…” It’s unfortunate that, as an identified “early adopter” National Forest, the NPCNF seems to be setting a precedent that likely will lead to more future NEPA litigation, rather than less.

      • Excellent points Jon. You are right. The agency ‘s proposed action cannot be pre-decisional, and there are always FACA considerations as well, so thanks for bringing this up. I’m with you…

        On a related note, and to clarify my earlier comments here as well, I am not in favor of excluding anyone from participating in public land management decision-making. I am simply seeing a lot of value in people coming together to figure out solutions that meet the broadest range of interests possible, and collaboration seems like a good pathway to do this. There will almost always be some interests not served through the collaborative process and these must still be considered by the agency in its decision-making. (Note: I consider the substantive grounds for litigation and the challenges for the agency in this realm as a separate but related issue).

        My point is that management actions that address the broadest range of interests possible, while staying within the law, seem like a good way to meet the “greatest good” in the modern day. (Yes, I know, “staying within the law” is a very heavily loaded phrase…but I am speaking broadly here at a principled level of conversation, so please allow some latitude. :)) To the extent, therefore, that a planning rule recognizes and encourages citizen sponsored collaboration as a legitimate way of developing citizen solutions for NF management, I am fully in support of this provision.

        • Some will say that collaboration does not work, because it does not include their point of view, even when their point of view is actually considered, and rejected. Yes, there IS a difference. Some will refuse to reach a consensus, and never accept any compromise. That is where litigation becomes a certainty, despite a true collaborative approach.

  18. The rule cannot re-write law. It has to work within the law that exists….You may be right in how things play out. But again, that doesn’t mean the rule is a bad rule necessarily. It could be that the legal structure needs some work (ya think?). 🙂 Not to sound like a broken record here, but this is where I think the fundamental purposes of the NF system need clarification. Otherwise, we’ll end up with the same piecemeal system of laws we have now…

    • Mike: I am 100% with you on the need to revisit the fundamental purposes of the USFS before tacking on a bunch of new stuff. And we have had some good discussions on this blog regarding those original intents and how they might fit in today’s world. The problem is how to engineer such a reconsideration?

      • Hi Bob,

        Yes, good question. I’ve had conversations in the past with some folks that are on a similar page. Perhaps we could start a fresh thread on this blog, but try to organize the flow first around this historical intent of the reservation of public lands before getting into what we all think ought to be done now. I could run the idea past Char Miller, a friend of mine and eminent historian of Pinchot and the USFS. He might be interested in providing some insight that pertains directly to Congressional intent. I would then be really interesting to consider how the MUSYA, NFMA, and other acts directly focused on NF management were an attempt to refine and update the original intent. We could then move into how the ESA and other laws affecting (but not directly focused on) NF systems lands further constrain or perhaps refine how the FS manages the meets the purposes of the NF system.

        Approaching it this way could keep us out of the weeds by not narrowing so quickly down to our individual reactions to a particular FS decisions. Even reacting to the planning rule seems to be an “after the fact” kind of dialogue, since the rule is a response to NFMA, which was already constrained by MUSYA, which was already a refinement of the original purposes…you get the drift.

        • Mike, Larry, Bob – Agree with the need for a fresh thread. Not that we haven’t been over the “collaboration” ground before, but given Mike’s recent suggested comment considerations I’m up for another round. Maybe we’ll find common ground this time 🙂

          Mike – After dealing with both sides, I do vacillate on what constitutes “equal say” and would like to explore your reasons for being more comfortable with excluding some voices.

          The above series of comments could be a case study for a grad student…love to see someone diagram that conversation!!!! Good stuff!

  19. 1. Even accepting all of these references as fact, I don’t see anything close to suggesting spotted owl protection has led to ‘more harm than good’ I see only the possibility that some of the good from restricting timber harvest was offset by some harm in some places: “Research therefore demonstrates that, *within limits, in some areas* patchiness may have positive consequences for Northern Spotted Owls by increasing prey abundance and availability.” That would be limited to situations where foraging habitat is the limiting factor (which I don’t think is common). There is also recognition that in more fire-adapted parts of the species’ range, altered disturbance regimes create a risk to nest sites (and in some of those, restrictions may limit restoration). However, I don’t see any of this information as invalidating old-growth reserves as generally being good for spotted owls. It may suggest that there are some opportunities for fine-tuning where foresters should be consulted.

    2. You are right that barred owls are not new (my memory failed me there). They were actually addressed in the original listing decision – as a reason for restricting logging:

    “The barred owl’s adaptability and aggressive nature appear to *allow it to take advantage of habitat perturbations, such as those that result from habitat fragmentation, and to expand its range where it may compete with the spotted owl for available resources.* The longterm impact to the spotted owl is unknown, but of considerable concern. Continued examination is warranted of the role and impact of the barred owl as a congeneric intruder in historical spotted owl range and its relationship to habitat fragmentation. The potential for interbreeding of the two species also merits concern and monitoring.”

    The Smithsonian article also actually validates the restrictions on logging: “To Forsman and other biologists, the bizarre turn is not a refutation of past decisions but a sign of the volatility to come for endangered species in an increasingly erratic world.” “Yet far from saying that the logging restrictions were a mistake, owl biologists largely insist that more forests must be spared, especially since heavy logging continues on state and private land.” Forsman’s point was that the threat of barred owls should have been recognized sooner, not that limiting timber harvest was the wrong decision. In the line you quoted, he said the mistake was *only* addressing habitat (by limiting timber harvest).

    3. I’m pretty sure that spotted owls didn’t evolve with the silvicultural prescriptions practiced in the 80s.

    In short, I can’t find anything in this material that supports your conclusion that ‘the focus on old growth homogeneity in the NSO recovery plan drove the barred owls into more direct competition with the NSO.” At best, barred owls are a red herring(!) Nor do I think any of this provides much support for what I believe is your larger point that biologists have abused science to the point that they should now defer to foresters.

    • I tend to think that numerous, smaller core habitats can actually support more pairs of owls than larger, less numerous protected nesting habitats. Remember, that owls and goshawks are territorial, and drive out intruders of their own species, and even their offspring. “Right-sized” nesting habitats, spread out to accommodate more pairs seems like something we should do. That would mean recruitment of future PACs (Protected Activity Centers) in places not adjacent to already-existing PACs. Such smaller PACs would be easier to defend from catastrophic wildfires, as well.

      Why not also re-write recovery plans, to find ways of protecting PACs from wildfires?? No one wants to talk about this, except for the Forest Service.

    • Much of the area within LSRs is already patchy from past timber harvest, there are not many tracts with very large, contiguous areas of old growth except at highest elevations. This is especially the case in the Coast Range where about half of the old trees on the Siuslaw NF were clearcut, and even more the case in checkerboard O and C BLM lands mostly cut over and surrounded by private lands,

      In the Siskiyou, varied soils also lend an unusual amount of patchiness in the large roadless areas and of course, with the fires down there, we have plenty enough patches, too many in my opinion.

    • Jon

      Re: “1. “Research therefore demonstrates that, within limits, in some areas patchiness may have positive consequences for Northern Spotted Owls by increasing prey abundance and availability.” That would be limited to situations where foraging habitat is the limiting factor (which I don’t think is common).”
      –> You are focused on the NSO so you don’t see that the barred owl is being forced into direct competition because its preferred foraging habitat is constrained. (See Ref: *) IMHO, you and the biologists are only looking at a few pieces of the forest ecosystem without thinking of the larger repercussions seen regularly here in this blog site.

      Re: “I don’t see any of this information as invalidating old-growth reserves as generally being good for spotted owls.”
      –> Don’t put words in my mouth. My repeated statements were for more heterogeneity which does nothing to question the role of old growth which I specifically stated was the preferred choice for NSO nesting habitat.

      Re: “It may suggest that there are some opportunities for fine-tuning where foresters should be consulted.”
      –> Wow! What a grudging and dismissive statement. Ignoring this forestry input from the get go in favor of ‘one size fits all’ was a bad mistake by the biologists. Now they claim that it is a new discovery. So where is your scientific objectivity on questioning the biologists?

      Re: “2. You are right that barred owls are not new (my memory failed me there). They were actually addressed in the original listing decision – as a reason for restricting logging:”
      –> So was the “one size fits all” elimination of any clearcutting (“restricting logging”) a mistake or not?
      –> Can you entertain the thought that the focus on old growth has created less young growth* which is the preferred forage habitat of the barred owl thereby increasing the probability of driving the BO into the old growth to compete more directly with the NSO?

      Re: “Forsman’s point was that the threat of barred owls should have been recognized sooner, not that limiting timber harvest was the wrong decision. In the line you quoted, he said the mistake was only addressing habitat (by limiting timber harvest).”
      –> Ah, what a wonderful, unquestioning faith you have in biologists. Are they gods? His point was that he wasn’t wrong. And I would add ‘in spite of the evidence to the contrary regarding the benefits of logging’ both then and now as grudgingly acknowledged by you above. Don’t you see your own contradictions? What was he going to say ‘we cost all of those jobs and spent all of those taxpayer dollars for nothing’? Yes, he should have if he was open minded and not covering his derriere, but he didn’t. Next, as you admit above, the barred owl was recognized up front but he and others dismissed it. Now you want to change the story and say it wasn’t recognized. Again you contradict yourself. You seem to swallow every word uttered by a biologist and disdain every word uttered by a forester even if you have to contradict yourself.

      Re: “3. I’m pretty sure that spotted owls didn’t evolve with the silvicultural prescriptions practiced in the 80s.”
      –> It doesn’t look like they evolved with the biologists prescription either since there are significantly less NSOs now than in the ’80s (my memory says at least 50% less) and, after 20+ years of heavy protection, they continue to decline at the rate of 2.9%** per year, how come? If all of the dead NSOs were laid out where people could see them like they can see clearcuts, there would be an uproar over the failure of the biologists recovery plan.

      Re: “At best, barred owls are a red herring(!)”
      –> Wow! Apparently you missed this quote from the 2011 revised plan: “Currently, the most important range-wide threats to the spotted owl are competition with barred owls, …”
      –> Its pretty bad when insisting on being right is more important than finding out what is right.

      Re: “Nor do I think any of this provides much support for what I believe is your larger point that biologists have abused science to the point that they should now defer to foresters.”
      –> Thanks for thinking for me again. Deferring is not my point but it certainly has been your point and the point of the biologists that foresters should defer to biologists.
      –> My point is, as either you or Mike acknowledged, ‘they have their biases’ and one of those biases is that they can ignore foresters input on the keystone species that makes the habitat for their minor species. My next point is that because biologists excluded any counterbalance from foresters, they got their emotions wrapped up in the decision making and shot from the hip without adequate scientific knowledge. My final point is that foresters as the experts on the keystone species and therefore on maintaining the habitat should have at least equal say on what is going to work. At a 2.9% annual loss in birds why is there a ‘perfection required’ standard for foresters and an ‘aw shucks, give us another 30 years and 125+/- million dollars and maybe it’ll work out this next time’ standard for biologists?

      * Forestry Source, June 2013, Page 7 “Early-seral habitats are now the scarcest forest type in the Pacific Northwest”
      ** http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/species/data/northernspottedowl/ ‘NSO declining at the rate of 2.9%/year’

  20. Gil – I’ll admit it’s a little hard for me to understand what your point is (it seems as fragmented as spotted owl habitat), but I think it’s that we should be logging more. I just don’t see anything here that supports that as a general conclusion. The barred owl is a big problem, but it is either irrelevant to or argues against more logging. It IS hard for me to entertain the thought that the focus on (preserving) old growth has forced the barred owl to live there and compete with spotted owls – if we’d just cut more trees, barred owls would leave the spotted owls alone. Yes, this is because I tend to think wildlife biologists should be the experts on what spotted owls need for habitat, and this is the opposite of what they are saying. The barred owl does not prove them wrong about their prescription, and I can’t agree with your position that ‘foresters (are) the experts on … maintaining the habitat.’ So I think we’ve had plenty of opportunity to make our points, most of the party has gone home, and we’ll just have to disagree.

  21. Jon

    Yup! We’ll just have to disagree while we watch the forests burn, be eaten up and the NSO die out which somehow doesn’t really seem to concern you at all. After all it’s just another debate party to you and since you are playing to the audience you would certainly know when they had gone home and there is nothing left in it for you.

    Sorry that you find it “a little hard for me to understand what your point is”, after all I enumerated three specific points in the last paragraph because of your previously expressed obtuseness.

    Sorry that you continue to intentionally misstate what I say. But maybe I am a little harsh since you have repeatedly shown your inability to understand what you read.

  22. Jon,
    Thanks for your demonstrated and warranted healthy skepticism here.

    I’m (also?) bemused and befuddled by the cognitive dissonance triggered by the handmaidens of the demise of old growth-dependent species {aka, USFS “foresters” (sic)} citing science to further their purposeful (mis)”management” often claiming to correct their prior (mis) “management” — yet without acknowledging their hand in the disasters. Until they use up what tiny fraction (5%?) of oldgrowth remaining in the lower 48, they too, are as much an endangered lot as the spotted owl and the top mammalian predators of North America. (Alas, a history lesson rich in irony and poor in consolation.)

    I’ve found when Mr. DeHuff’s argumentation resorts to his usual content-free “gotcha” personal jabs, its clear his personal issues go well beyond the subject matter at hand.

    I’ve found silence is the best response.

    • And again, David’s “broad brush” paints himself into a corner, blasting all foresters, and especially the dead ones. EVERY National Forest in the Sierra Nevada has ample, protected old growth. Sorry, David, but your claims don’t resonate HERE! You’re going to have to be more specific in your claims about using up old growth. More old growth has been lost through catastrophic wildfires, here, in the last 20 years, than through logging. Actually, NO old growth has been logged in the Sierra Nevada National Forests, in the last 20 years. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA!!

  23. I would like to state here Gil that I get tired of what too often is a bullying, hectoring tone from you, bad enough that I too often skip what you have written which often contains good points that I should engage with. I imagine that in person we would do a lot better. Yes???

    A few weeks ago you slung something in about what “you obama supporters think” I do not need to be told by you what this Obama supporter thinks. And that is that, drop the hectoring or you lose my engagement.

    So one gentleman to another, please chill out or I will lose interest in what you have to contribute as a seasoned forestry professional.

    Thanks

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