Balanced Post-fire Treatments in the Rim Fire

I ran across this excellent article from  Eric Holst, Senior Director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s “working lands program”.

Here’s the link: https://www.edf.org/blog/2014/02/18/after-rim-fire-surprising-role-salvage-logging

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This picture is a view looking down into the Tuolumne River Canyon, from the “Rim of the World” overlook. Down there is where the fire started. I’d bet the spin on this wildfire would be VERY different if it was ignited by lightning.

Holst is showing some excellent judgement in looking at the bigger picture of the realities of the Rim Fire, seeing that “letting nature take its course” isn’t the way to go on every burned acre.

The Forest Service recently proposed to conduct salvage logging – removal of dead trees – on about 30,000 of the 98,049 acres of high intensity burned area and remove hazard trees along 148 miles of high use road in the burn perimeter. While it may seem counterintuitive for a conservationist to do so, I support this effort. In the high intensity areas, the Rim Fire burned so hot that it not only killed every tree but the top inch or two of soil with critical soil microfauna, and seed stocks were also sterilized. Fire of this intensity has been relatively rare in the moist middle elevations on western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and the native forests are not adapted to bounce back from this type of fire.

There are also some “interesting” comments, and a hint of “eco-bickering”. In those comments is also a return of the “Chapparalian”, using his actual name (instead of one of his many pseudonyms and even fake names). There are also some other interesting names commenting about these issues. John Buckley, a local leader of an environmental group comments with an open mind and a dose of reality. Others continue to spout the misguided idea that leaving the Rim Fire alone is the only way to go. Some commenters talked about the reality that we have plenty of BBW habitat, protected within the National Park. One reality not covered is that re-burns cause extensive damage that is very difficult to recover from, especially in areas left to “recover on their own”.

I still see that post-fire management is essential to getting big trees back on the land. We already have site-specific evidence that forests didn’t return when post-fire management was excluded, 40 years ago. We ended up with old growth brushfields, and a few stunted trees. Those old brushfields burned at moderate intensity. We have a big variety of landscapes, with differing burn intensities and site-specific conditions. This partial comment is spot-on, regarding these facts

It is interesting to see how many comments Eric’s post attracted from authors who are vehement that absolutely nothing except ‘let nature takes its course’ on National Forest lands. Since we have 100,000 acres of National Park land for that experiment, it would be more interesting to apply some other options on the National Forest lands. In the climate change debate, we continue to witness the rapid expansion of vocal people so sure of their own story that they refuse to even consider the possibility that it is worth learning more about the changing earth. Hopefully, this fate will not befall the response to the Rim Fire.

It seems pretty clear to me that a few open-minded people from both sides are seeing the realities of the Rim Fire, and its future.

22 Comments

  1. For the record, I’m pretty sure Larry has confused Eric Holst, who wrote the article and works for the Environment Defense Fund, with an Erik Holst who is a retired Forest Service employee.

    Here’s Eric Holst’s background taken directly from the EDF website:

    Eric holds a Masters degree in environmental management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and a B.S. in botany from the University of California, Davis.

    He previously served as executive director of the Resources Legacy Fund where he helped guide the overall operations of this innovative funding intermediary. Prior to that, he served as program officer for the environment at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation where he was responsible for managing a $15 million grant portfolio in the areas of forest conservation and conservation leadership. Holst has also held professional positions at the Rainforest Alliance and Ford Foundation.

    Also, since it’s been a regular occurrence on this blog to post the 990 tax forms of non-profit organizations that hold the Forest Service accountable through lawsuits, we might as well do the same with a non-profit organization that supports the Forest Service’s post-Rim Fire logging plans.

    According to Guidestar and official 990 Tax Forms, the Environmental Defense Fund’s total revenue in 2012 was $111,915,138.00. Looks like 8 EDF employees made over a 1/4 million dollars that year, with Frederic D. Krupp’s total 2012 compensation at $487,084.00. Good work, if you can get it.

    Like Larry, I also encourage people to read the comments on Eric Holst’s article, as there are some good ones from people like Dr. Richard Hutto and Richard Halsey with the California Chaparral Institute. I have a feeling that Dr. Hutto and Mr. Halsey would do very well in a face-to-face debate with Eric Holst on these issues, but I guess that’s just wishful thinking.

    Finally, I have to take some issue with Larry making an issue about the “return of the “Chapparalian” [SIC], using his actual name (instead of one of his many pseudonyms and even fake names).”

    Fact is, I think Richard Halsey only a posted a single comment or two on this blog using the name “Chaparralian,” which happens to be the name of the official publication of the California Chaparral Institute. However, a search of this blog’s archives shows no comment from either a “Chaparralian” or a “Chapparalian.” It’s just weird that Larry would even bring that up, especially since Larry himself posted here anonymously under the pseudonym “Fotoware” for a year before finally using his real name.

    • Yes, Matt, I have seen him using fake names in other venues, trying to pretend that he has more support than he actually has. And yes, it isn’t just a pseudonym. His hit and run tactics are quite evident, especially when it comes to post-fire treatment discussions. I’ve also seen that people have very much tired of his shenanigans over the years, especially in the LA Times comments section, a haven for those shrill, stubborn and angry partisan political voices. A quick review of Halsey’s posts here show him to be devoid of site-specific content, and full-to-the-brim with questionable science about stuff outside of his expertise. That being said, I have no beef with his views on burned manzanita. *SMIRK* Halsey’s views are incredibly narrow and show his ignorance of actual conditions within the Rim Fire, and I proved that in prior posts.

      And thanks. Matt, for the spelling “violation”, Mr. English Police. That’s a really tacky and really common Internet “trick” that desperate people use to attack others. (Yes, I have corrected his grammar before, as well, to prove a salient point, but, I didn’t get a degree in it. *SMIRK* )

      I posted under Fotoware because I have had opponents trying to end my Forest Service career, and I have even been reported to the Chief because of my middle-of-the-road views. Since Matt has constantly attacked me, I guess I must be a threat to the preservationist “party line”, eh? Sure, it is easy to be against the hardline Tea Party views but, it is harder to convince people that site-specific forest management, advocating thinning-from-below is an evil, awful thing. I must be doing SOMETHING right, if I’m getting the ire and angst of Matt, eh?!?!? Of course, Matt was on a mission to expose me and has gone on record with wanting me involuntarily “retired”.

      Both Hutto and Halsey are taking the “whatever happens” strategy, not caring if precious rare and endangered (especially NOW!) wildlife habitats have gone up in smoke, essentially, destroyed forever, unless man intervenes. They both ignore the vast acreages of burned forests that won’t be entered. The Rim Fire is a PERFECT example of “whatever happens”, in the form of a hunter’s escaped campfire. The details of that incident do NOT matter, in the least. It would have burned in the next ecological nano-second, anyway, via “whatever happens”. That is what we get when we don’t manage our lands. Simple as that.

      • Hello Larry, The only reason I even noticed your spelling error with “Chapparalian” was because I pasted it into this blog’s search box and nothing came up. That’s when I noticed it’s actually spelled “Chaparralian.” And nothing comes up in this blog’s search box under that spelling either.

        Anyway, I’ve also typed “Richard Halsey” into this blog’s search box and no comments from him come up there either. The only thing I can find is this press release.

        So, not sure Mr. Halsey has been a frequent commenter on this blog, but who really cares.

        I will point out that your mis-spelling or mis-reading of the name Eric Holst for Erik Holst did have some bearing on your post. I consider myself one of the world’s top ten poorest spellers, so no worries on my end. I was just trying to get to the bottom of who was saying what, what their background was, etc. Turns out the Eric Holst who wrote this article never did work for the Forest Service, so might I suggest that you take that knowledge and edit your post? [Thanks for making that correction, Larry].

        • Matthew

          In spite of your assertions otherwise, Chaparralian has commented on at least 27 occasions. 27 comments were in one thread where he made repeated character assassinations on Dr. Bonnicksen at: http://forestpolicypub.com/2013/09/06/rim-fire-op-ed-by-dr-thomas-bonnicksen/

          SOOOOooooo, to quote your advice to Larry: “might I suggest that you take that knowledge and edit your post?” And while you are at it, why not apologize to Larry?

          FYI, the blog search box only searches the opening post in each thread and not the comments. To search the comments (including commenter names), you have to use the comments section of the Dashboard.

          • Hello Gil, Thanks for letting me know that those who have access to the Dashboard part of the blog (only a handful of people) can search the comments section. I never knew that.

            Otherwise, when people search the only publicly accessible search box on the homepage of the blog for “chaparralian” they get a “Not Found” message. That’s what I did. Anyway….

            It appears as if you want to equate Larry’s honest mistake of claiming someone worked for the Forest Service, when they clearly didn’t…..

            With my honest mistake of posting a comment in which I mentioned that I posted “Chapparalian” into this blog’s search box nothing came up….then so be it.

            Honestly, I’m not even sure why Larry would bring up the “chaparralian’s” comments, especially in a sort of suspicious or derogatory way.

            I just reviewed the comments at the link you provided and it seems to me that the “chaparralian” was professional, direct, on-topic and “schooled” some people – just like I would expect a former San Diego “Teacher of the Year” to do.

            • “Honestly, I’m not even sure why Larry would bring up the “chaparralian’s” comments, especially in a sort of suspicious or derogatory way.”

              Honestly, this is my exact quote, which you, generously, interpreted my motives.

              “In those comments is also a return of the “Chapparalian”, using his actual name (instead of one of his many pseudonyms and even fake names).”

              It is true that he uses several other names and designations. That was all I was saying about him, letting the reader make his/her own judgements about his slanted views. I’m not going to go back and dredge up his comments, as they are all there, in the record, for all to see. They detail his anti-management stance, and his irrational resistance to ANY salvage efforts, even those in burned plantations. His references mainly included chaparral experts. Again, Buckley and Holst both have more direct experience and have middle-of-the-road viewpoints, backed up by science and observations, on this specific set of issues. They both show great courage to stand up to the kneejerk opinions of their eco-peers. They both have excellent scientific reasons for these positions. Halsey ran away from the issues and used misdirection to avoid having to face us, and our facts. Everywhere I have seen him, on the Internet, he has not proven that all salvage efforts are bad, as he continues to push. Merely stating that doesn’t make it so.

              Even in this thread, and in Holst’s comments thread, no one has proven that we shouldn’t salvage some acres. No one opposing salvage wants to talk about bearclover, re-burns, fuel loading, restoration or treeplanting. However, the huge majority of the public does want the land replanted. The facts are that replanting in these lands is useless unless you reduce fuels and use herbicides to knock down the bearclover and the brush. Why would I say this if it weren’t true? THIS is our main decision. Do we replant??? If so, then we must do the other stuff. If not, those lands are doomed to being permanent brushfields, which burn every 20-40 years. This IS the reality of this situation, like it, or not. Even some eco-groups see this reality.

              Like it, or not!

            • Hi Matt:

              Yep, Sharon had to turn me onto that Dashboard trick of using the Comments bar on the menu to actually search Comments. We now have $725 in the Blog Operations budget to make it so every Subscriber can do searches, too — not just co-moderators. My current beef is that now the statistics (even the “Jet-Pack stats”) are not nearly as comprehensive as our old stats.

              Regarding Chapastallion, I also have problems spelling his name if you read through his comments. I am much closer to Larry’s perception of the guy than I am to yours, based mostly on my discussions with him (including links) on this blog.

            • Matthew

              Your welcome. But “professional, direct, on-topic and “schooled” some people – just like I would expect a former San Diego “Teacher of the Year” to do” – I don’t think so – he stepped over the line by resorting to discussing the person rather than the facts. Let’s both do our best to make sure that we can’t be accused of the same from this point forward.

    • Larry, Please see my comment above where I stated:

      “I also encourage people to read the comments on Eric Holst’s article, as there are some good ones from people like Dr. Richard Hutto and Richard Halsey with the California Chaparral Institute.”

      Eric, we respect the EDC and all the work it does to protect the natural environment. However, regarding the opinion you’ve expressed here, the EDC is seriously misguided. We are surprised the EDC appears to have accepted the USFS’s claims without checking the science.

      It isn’t the instinctual response by “environmental community” that you should be focusing on, but rather the incredible volume of scientific research that has made it clear that salvage logging can have a devastating impact on fragile post-fire environments. To quote three of the country’s top fire ecologists, David Lindenmayer, Phil Burton, and Jerry Franklin,

      “The notion that salvage logging assists the ecological recovery of naturally disturbed forests is fundamentally incorrect. Hence justifications for salvage logging based on contributions to ecological recovery have little merit. We know of few circumstances where salvage logging has been demonstrated to directly contribute to recovery of ecological processes or biodiversity.”

      This is not an instinctual statement from environmentalists, but conclusions based on decades of research.

      Eric, we don’t need to go in and conduct “active shrub control to promote seedling survival of conifers.” This means massive amounts of herbicide like what was used after the 1987 Stanislaus-Complex Fire in the same area. The Sierra has not “experienced a troubling decline in populations of pine species.” We have no idea where you have obtained that data. The Rim Fire did not “sterilize” massive amounts of soil. Within the next year, there will be an explosion of life growing from the so-called sterilized soils. These perspective are right out of the forest industry mindset that also continues to claim that old growth forests are decadent, supporting minimal species diversity and therefore need to be logged.

      The science does not support these broad generalizations. PLEASE examine the research and reconsider this opinion piece.

      We urge you to visit our webpage on the Rim Fire and the negative impact the USFS’s project will have. You can download the relevant papers as well as comment letters from those scientists who have an intimate knowledge of the Sierran ecosystem.

      Additional information can be found here refuting the notion that large, “high-intensity” forest fires are unnatural: http://www.californiachaparral.org/cforestfires.html

      Sincerely,
      Richard W. Halsey
      Director
      California Chaparral Institute

      ———————–

      One cannot get more environmentally irresponsible than to suggest that natural succession of shrubs to trees is a bad thing, or to suggest that salvage logging is a good thing for all the fire-dependent plant and animal species that require those severe fire events for their existence on this earth! Every bit of ecological research ever conducted on the effects of salvage logging reveals overwhelmingly negative effects. Please look at these videos to get an ecological perspective on fire:

      Here’s an award-winning video by Conservation Media

      Here’s an informative series of photos capturing the ecological magic within severely burned forests

      or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rXvP2r9W9c

      Here is a presentation of the science behind the benefits of severe fire from a PBS television series that ran some 15 years ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTl-naywNyY&list=PL7F70F134E853F520&index=15

      Here’s another new video by the Wild Nature Institute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BmTq8vGAVo&feature=youtu.be

      Here is the most recent USFS production showing how essential severe fires are to conifer forest systems
      http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/news-events/audiovisual/?cid=stelprdb5431394

      • Of course, Hutto has no site-specific content regarding the Rim Fire, either. So, you are joining Hutto and Halsey with having zero site-specific information about the Rim Fire and the proposed salvage projects??? Everything I see from them is generic and extremely narrow in scope and content. Any comparison to Yellowstone is very wrong, and you know it. Trotting out that tired old nag is all-too-obvious as a ploy for embracing forest destruction, especially-so, here in the Sierra Nevada. Clinging to that flawed reasoning reeks of desperation. The same goes for Halsey’s love of brushfields, even when majestic old growth lived there for 400 years, or more, before the catastrophic wildfire.

        Again, the topic is about whether we should salvage some of the dead trees in 400 square miles of the Rim Fire. Do you have an actual, original position on this, that you, Matt Koehler, will present? I have actually been there, working on the actual ground that was burned. I was part of the efforts that kept plantations from burning at high intensity. I saw the 6 foot high brush in the areas that were left to “recover”. I was there, in the 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s and into the new millennium. My views are based on that extensive experience.

        • Hello Larry:

          In your 1st paragraph above you criticize Dr. Hutto, claiming he “has no site-specific content regarding the Rim Fire.” Not sure how you know his every whereabouts, but I get your point.

          You also infer that Dr. Hutto and Richard Halsey have “zero site-specific information about the Rim Fire and the proposed salvage projects.” Again, not sure how you know this as a matter of fact, but whatever.

          So, since I haven’t been on-the-ground post-Rim Fire….To answer your direct question, no, I don’t have an actual, original position on this to share with you.

          Even if I did, why should I bother (on this nice spring evening) telling you what it is, since I can safety assume you’ll use the same type of criticisms you level at Dr. Hutto and Halsey to discount my views?

          For the record, I’m glad you’re passionate about that part of the world.

          • One would think that if Hutto had actual site-specific evidence against salvage in the Rim Fire, he most certainly would have used it in his comments, wouldn’t he? Ditto for Halsey. I still totally support Holst’s reality-based views, as well as John Buckley’s local experience, here. Buckley hasn’t been a friend of the Forest Service but, he has stepped up and told it like it is.

            It’s pretty important, at least to me, that we based actions on site-specific conditions and realities. Sure, it would be good if we could regenerate burned forests without having to worry about using herbicides and re-burns. However, bearclover, fuels build-ups and a lack of seed sources are important realities to address, in these forests. Just as I have “seen the light” about the true nature of pure lodgepole stands in the Rockies, people must also see what wildfires do in this part of the country, under these conditions.

  2. Again, here is a view of the probable future of parts of the Rim Fire, (if we do nothing in mitigation).

    https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7062472,-119.7504077,225m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

    As you can see, even the riparian area of Crane Creek has been wiped off the face of the planet. It has been 6 years since the re-burn and 25 years since the original A-Rock Fire, which incinerated an ancient stand of HUGE pines. And, yes, no salvage logging was done in this view. No skids trails. No herbicides. No treeplanting. Yep, go ahead and zoom out to see the full extent of “whatever happens”, National Park style.

  3. My concern about reasonable sounding compromises like this, (“removal of dead trees – on about 30,000 of the 98,049 acres of high intensity burned area”) is that the subset that is being logged is not a less ecologically valuable subset, it’s not even a random subset. Salvage logging targets removal of disproportionately valuable subset of the burned area (where there are numerous large trees) and thus what appears to be reasonable compromise is in reality disproportionate adverse impact.

    Salvage logging virtually always targets the removal of economically valuable LARGE trees. The large trees are disproportionately valuable ecologically as well. This is because large snags tend to stay standing longer and persist as dead wood longer, thus helping to fill the “snag gap” that follows stand replacing fire.

    • Remember, most of the Rim Fire on Forest Service lands was either in 40 year old post-fire plantations, or in brushy, open or rocky areas. Look at the map! The biggest burned trees are in protected wildlife areas (now useless for the birds they were supposed to protect). With the estimated 80 square miles of large tree forest in the Rim Fire, do we need to “protect” each and every acre of burned mature stands? If you eliminate the big trees within stream buffers, protected wildlife sites, archaeological sites, etc, then subtract the National Park acres, how much do you think is left? Is that small amount worth fighting over? Is that amount worth sacrificing to become permanent brushfields? Then, if you account for the large snags, purposely left within those 30,000 acres of cutting units, you have a better picture of just how many large trees are left for “nature”. There is NO lack of large trees being left, within the Rim Fire, where they occur. Again, Tree, you seem to be stuck in the 80’s. That was a very long time ago, and the Forest Service has, obviously, made a lot of changes, which you are ignoring. You’re out of touch, in this situation, Tree.

  4. I don’t doubt that a really hot fire will basically sterilize two inches or so of soil, maybe not over the entire acreage but maybe quite a large part of it. Which would kill the “critical soil microfauna” there, though I wonder if perhaps he meant to say “microflora” (archaic term but we still use it), for example ectomycorrhizal fungi. I’m working up a project to look at some of those fauna (nematodes) and their loss in Idaho fires, and how fast they return. A group of forest service researchers here are well underway looking at fungal/bacterial community effects of fires in ID and WA, interesting stuff.

    A number of years ago I worked on a USFS project aimed at replacing methyl bromide as a fumigant in USFS nurseries (Coeur d’Alene, Lucky Peak). We weren’t too successful, that stuff really works as a universal biocide (also ozone layer destroyer), i.e. it basically sterilizes the soil, probably deeper than 2 inches.

    One thing I always found interesting is that they never worried about replacing the mycorrhizal inoculum that was destroyed, it arrived naturally from nearby forested areas, in time for the next crop of bare-root seedlings. Of course, root pathogens like Fusarium oxysporum always managed to find their way back pretty quickly also (hence the need for MeBr). Those were good-sized acreages but nothing like the extent of a big fire though. But I would expect pockets of microbial survivors across the landscape even with a very big fire, just speculating; I look forward to seeing what the research will show. This is one area where (my opinion) the “best available science” still has a ways to go.

    • A few months ago, I compared the burn intensity map to the aerial photo. There were some consistencies about how vegetation cover burned in different ways. While there is quite a bit of high intensity burned areas, it wasn’t as widespread as you might think. The main spots that burned hot were the unmanaged wildlife PACs (Protected Activity Centers), mainly because of the multi-layered fuels build-ups, due to a lack of thinning. Local preservationists were successful, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s at excluding timber harvest in the Clavey River area. You can still see some bumperstickers around here that say “Save the Clavey”. Some of those folks continued to be against thinning projects in that area, even after policies changed to ban clearcutting and highgrading. There will be some cable salvage units in areas not “protected” around those PACs. I’d bet those areas will be the focus of any litigation.

      About 75% of the cutting units are in those 40 year old post-fire plantations. Many of those were thinned, in projects I worked on in 2000. Those thinned plantations burned at low intensities, and I would expect that there will be significant survival there. Adjacent to those plantations were “old growth” brushfields, which were left to “recover” on their own. In 2000, those brushfields were impenetrable thickets of manzanita and whitethorn, ready to burn. They show up very clearly on aerial photos, and also show up as moderate burn intensity on their current maps.

      It is very clear to me that “letting nature take its course” was a failure, in the case of these burned brushfields. If we were to apply that to the whole of the Forest Service’s portion of the Rim Fire, who knows how long it would take to get old growth back on the land? Chances are, that would never happen, due to the frequent lightning storms and human-caused wildfires. Either we do what it takes to get forests back on the land, or we let “whatever happens”, including perpetual brushfields.

      In Yosemite, there is a perfect example of “letting nature take its course” in the Foresta area, where old growth was turned into brushfields, through catastrophic wildfires, in just 20 years. Should we ignore that excellent evidence, pretending that doing nothing restores burned forests?

  5. Larry and Gil,

    I am saddened over how much you both appear to be empowered by your own anger. I’m sorry you both seem to see the world only as a place of contention and polarization. You both seem to relish in believing your own, self-centered viewpoints and making ad hominem attacks with delight. I know how passion can be a powerful motivator. It helps me in the work I do. But I also know from personal experience that living one’s life driven by antagonism, constantly fighting “against” something, getting temporary highs by making sweeping “gotcha” statements about others, does not make for a pleasant life. The negativity eventually bleeds into everything. Bitterness results.

    Gil, after our most recent discussion on this site, you and some of your friends here finally moved away from trying to paint me as some kind of masked man hiding behind “fake names,” as Larry resurrected above. We apologized like gentlemen and agreed to disagree on certain points. Now, apparently, you have forgotten that experience and are jumping up and down with Larry by making cute, insulting comments to Matt and mischaracterizing my statements about Tom Bonnicksen.

    First, Larry, on the internet, screen names are common. All you typically have to do is click the name or the profile and, as in my case, you’ll find a full profile and a website. Since personal jabs seem to be the approved form of communication here I’ll suggest that although you may find some perverse satisfaction in making accusations about my attempt to be anonymous, the truth of the matter is that if anyone went beyond your surface level of investigation, they could not only find out who I am, but can access all of the work I’ve done over the past 10 years. Speaking of years, your years of experience are certainly valuable, but they can become a serious handicap when times change and new science reveals new information.

    Secondly, I am not going to debate the issue of salvage logging since the science is quite clear that it has net negative environmental impacts. In fact, debating anything in this forum is useless. Max Planck’s quote comes to mind when I think about what goes on here: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    And finally, Gil, Bonnicksen’s record as a paid lobbyist for the timber industry speaks for itself. One does not usually seek the truth by acquiring information from someone who is paid to promote a particular position, something I mentioned the last time here. Revealing this is not “character assassination,” as you claim, but “character revelation” – a term that has been used in response to Charles Koch’s recently feigned outrage over the revelation of his attempts to influence elections with his millions of dollars.

    Interestingly, Eric Holst and I communicated via email after I posted my comment on his article. Our discussion was devoid of the cute, little personal jabs that are typically used on this site. Instead, we both learned things from each other and will continue to help shape public policy in a collaborative manner.

    But you guys, Gil and Larry, and some of your older buddies here who love to engage in ridicule, ignoring any science that is contrary to your timber-centric paradigms, well… to take a page from your playbook, you guys are really just a bunch of fuddy duddies.

    Richard W. Halsey
    Director
    The California Chaparral Institute

    For anyone who care to research further, our work on the Rim Fire salvage logging project can be found on this webpage:
    http://www.californiachaparral.org/fire/postfireenvironment.html

    The details on Bonnicksen can be found on this webpage:
    http://www.californiachaparral.org/aindustryadvocate.html

    • Chaparralian

      I suggest that you are resorting to the past practices that we agreed not to repeat. Your statements above reveal your personal problem with anger not mine or Larry’s. In my comments above, I merely corrected Matthew’s mistaken memory and now I will suggest that you re-read the Bonnicksen thread and see that Larry and I weren’t the only ones who found problems with your defining the entire scientific community as being comprised only of those who agree with you. That false assumption led you to make charges that Bonnickson was a consultant willing to say anything for pay in spite of his consistently held and well documented beliefs. Many of his beliefs are well established scientific truths. That is character assassination. If I wasn’t fair minded, couldn’t I accuse you of the same thing if you were paid by any organization opposed to sound forest management?

      Debating facts and established and validated scientific principles versus unvalidated theories as they impact forest planning is what this site is about. Not name calling. Politically correct science that leaves no room for debate is not science. A few statements/studies in opposition of the long established fundamental plant physiology principles based on innumerable studies from all of biology which are behind the impact of stand density on stand and ecosystem health can’t be just swallowed without a massive number of repeatable scientific studies. It is of the same magnitude as if someone were to state that they now had proof that the world was really flat and that the rest of the universe rotated around the earth.

      Can we agree once again to stick to the scientific and practical issues and leave out making charges about the motives and nature of others unless we have sufficient evidence and are committed to instigating criminal proceedings?

  6. Tell us why you sometimes use an alias, other than “Chapparralian”, to appear to be another person, altogether. Yes, I’ve seen where you used a generic average name, probably designed to show agreement with the general public (aka Sockpuppetry). Frankly, it hurts your quest, to be pretending to be someone else, supporting your own beliefs. You’re basically lying to your own followers. Yes, I caught you!

    Once again, tell us how those forests will return when bearclover, brush and wildfires are preventing trees from even growing. In 40 years, only brush and bearclover had returned, in “preserved” areas destroyed by wildfires. In salvaged areas, trees were planted, herbicides used and excess trees commercially thinned to successfully establish pine forests that no longer require much management to thrive.

    Regarding your link, how are thinned 40 year old post-fire plantations considered to be “sensitive post-fire habitat”? Just what kind of “habitat” is that for?? Small diameter timber doesn’t make good BBW habitat. Aren’t “commercial tree farms” better than no trees, at all? Yes, those plantations were thinned, and looked a lot less like plantations before the Rim Fire. You are assuming that those plantations were due to green timber clearcutting. Same for the 1987 Complex, too. There are good examples in the 1987 Complex that were not replanted and did not have herbicides used. Those areas also burned at high intensity in the Rim Fire. Other parts of the 1987 Complex do have thriving plantations growing, instead being brushy, treeless landscapes. From your letter to the Stanislaus, your claim of “the removal of large overstory trees by excessive logging” is very, very wrong. They have not cut large trees since 1993! The past clearcutting has not happened since then, as well. Nope, can’t let facts get in the way, eh? You talk about climate change and increasing population but aren’t willing to do what it takes to save trees from those issues, preferring a “whatever happens” policy, instead. Well, the Rim Fire “happened” and those forests weren’t prepared for such a catastrophic firestorm. So, tell us the difference between an “industrial tree farm” and a parcel of planted trees. Can you say that planted trees will survive, within the Rim Fire, without any other treatments? Is it worth it to replant the Rim Fire, in your opinion? Are you welcoming re-burns, like the Rim Fire, in our National Forests? Since the public uses all the roads within the Rim Fire, can you sincerely say that invasive weeds won’t take hold if salvage logging is banned? At least loggers have to follow invasive weed protocols, where the public doesn’t even know they are spreading them. Remember, Highway 120 is used by tourists going to Yosemite, year-round. Significant erosion has already occurred by allowing the Rim Fire re-burn. Measures could have been enacted to reduce the impacts and acres of the re-burn, instead of relying on “whatever happens”. Tilling is designed to reduce compaction impacts, and erosion. Part of the mitigation programs in all modern salvage projects. Tilling has been needed less and less, due to improvements in harvest techniques. Trees can barely even germinate, when bearclover dominates the landscape. You cannot grow new forests without dealing with the brush and bearclover, within the Rim Fire. We know this from the past clearcutting practices. Show us where historic burned areas within the Rim Fire have been reforested without herbicides. Can you say with confidence that the Forest Service seeks to plant “high density tree farms”? Practices have changed since the 80’s. Additionally, many of those plantation within the Rim Fire were thinned, definitively reducing fire intensities and increasing health, vigor and survival of those stands. The Google aerial photos show, without a doubt, that untouched areas did, indeed, turn into a “monoculture of brush”. Can you not see that reality? That reality has not changed. You say, “Post fire succession is a slow process.” However, it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve seen a multitude of examples that show it doesn’t have to be that way.

    It has been a very long time since those old practices were abandoned. Re-burns have been seen to be extremely destructive, severely inhibiting recovery and impacting soils, essential for the return of the conifer forests that were there in the past. With only 30,000 acres being salvaged, of the 250,000 acres burned, there is no danger that “shrublands habitats” will be “devalued”. There will be no lack of them within the Rim Fire. There was no lack of them before the Rim fire, as well. Well-managed plantations survive re-burns much better than dense thickets of manzanita and whitethorn, as we have seen in the Rim Fire. It is unfortunate that you believe the myth of “whatever happens”. Showing private clearcuts as examples of Forest Service “misdeeds” is disingenuous, at best, and purposely misleading, in my opinion. It is sad that you will go to such lengths to hoodwink the public.

    It is all too easy to blame the past, when you want to block modern forest management. Today, the Forest Service seeks to use the right tool for the right job. The public wants burned areas replanted. Should we be telling them that modern reforestation is “bad”? Should we be telling them that it is best to wait hundreds of years for “nature” to replant their forests? Should we tell them that such fires are a welcome part of the human landscape?

    Should we be letting “whatever happens”, happen, wrongly labeling it as “natural”?

  7. I think Larry is so passionate about this subject is because he has seen the result of our current policies on ground, in the forests. Its hard not to be upset at the waste and destruction that is the result of our current fire and post fire restoration policies.
    The same people who talk the loudest about saving old growth are very people who are responsible for letting burn hundred of thousands acres of old growth forest each year.
    I spend a fair amount of time in the forests of Southwestern Oregon. I love observing what is going on in our forests. I enjoy being there. I have seen several fires destroy parts of the oldest and most beautiful forests in this area. My view is from what I have observed. Many of these fires have been catastrophic and have killed every living thing in their paths. Many of these fires were the result of the let it burn philosophy.
    I have also witnessed the results of our post fire restoration policies, which always result in harvesting of less than 1% of the harvestable trees. Always accompanied by much complaining by the environmental community. Never have I seen were post fire harvest has impeded the growth of new trees or flora.
    The question is do we want green forests, or do we want rocks and brush. Do we want old growth forests or rocks and brush. It’s our choice and it is difficult when being a admirer of forests not to want to see them alive and living.
    I don’t know who Richard Halsey is, but I do take offense at his dismissive attitude.

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