Sound Forest Management?

OR clearcut shelterwood roadless OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA fragments

We hear the term ‘sound forest mangement’ (I’ll use ‘SFM’) a lot around here. I’m not quite sure what it means, though I suspect that others feel confident that they do. I do believe it can mean quite different things to different people, leading to radically different viewpoints on how to get there. And since “getting there” is presumably one reason to even think about a “new century of forest planning” (as opposed to simply recycling the last century), I thought I’d toss this out to get kicked around.

By the way, the accompanying photos from the web are just a semi-random assortment of forestry related scenes, good/bad/ugly/otherwise, and aren’t posted for the purpose of editorializing.

Old school: This represents the bulk of what I studied in forestry school, back in the late 70’s, probably some of you did too: Silviculture, Forest Mensuration, Forest Economics, Wood Technology, Forest Management… etc. I do think the “agronomy of trees” is very well developed and documented. There may be no truly sustainable yield (of timber), but we know how to come pretty darn close. Being able to grow trees indefinitely, with a predictable periodic or continuous yield, with minimal exogenous inputs (fertilizer, herbicides etc.), at some level of profitability, pretty much constitutes what I learned was SFM. Renewable resource, etc. It contrasts with the extreme and unsustainable approaches of “cut out and get out”, and what we used to call “lawnmower forestry” with its often high input requirements.

Wildlife: I didn’t learn much about wildlife in forestry school, though we were departments in the same college, and courses were available to those who had extra electives to fill. Most of my exposure to wildlife was hearing a little in dendrology class how some trees/shrubs (serviceberry, for example) were useless for forest products but were “good for wildlife”. I don’t remember ever hearing about nesting, denning, cover, corridors, etc. Basically, wildlife was a foreign language that I didn’t feel I needed to learn.

I’ve been learning more about wildlife lately, although somewhat unevenly emphasizing ESA-listed species, FS sensitive species, and management indicator species. Wildlife (including fish) issues are hugely important in national forest management issues, controversies, and litigation. The values, goals, benchmarks, and philosophy tend to be quite different from those needed to optimally grow merchantable trees. That’s another way of saying that wildlife and tree people tend to define SFM very differently. As a result, every plan and decision tends to involve a very large measure of compromise.

Soils and microbiology: I had terrible, trivial courses in those subjects as a forestry undergraduate. Those two profs have since left this world, so I don’t feel bad about saying that. Now that I teach courses in soil microbiology and plant pathology, I try hard to get forestry students in my classes and relate the importance of those subjects as best I can to forestry (and ag of course). Mostly I get grad students though, because forestry undergrads have their schedules pretty booked up already.

New School: I’m not sure there is one, probably some universities are doing better now than mine did. Forest Ecology seems to be a popular catchphrase, but it probably downplays the actual growing of trees, which is important, and there are only so many hours in the curriculum. The USFS approach hinges on “muldisciplinarity”, with teams of specialists contributing, but it’s unclear how much those disciplines communicate, or how much the decision-making ranks understand about how all the pieces fit together. Here’s one definition of multidisciplinary research: “Researchers from a variety of disciplines work together at some point during a project, but have separate questions, separate conclusions, and disseminate in different journals.” Kind of the Tower of Babel approach, and hasn’t been all that effective in my opinion.

Another approach, so-called “transdisciplinary research”, seems more promising: Specialists contribute their unique expertise but strive to understand the complexities of the whole project, rather than one part of it. Transdisciplinary research allows investigators to transcend their own disciplines to inform one another’s work, capture complexity, and create new intellectual spaces.

I have a little trouble envisioning the transdisciplinary approach ever permeating the USFS, given its very hierarchical, turf-protective, and quasi-military structure, but one can always hope. It’s a pipe dream, but maybe NCFP can one day serve as a role model…

14 Comments

  1. I’ve been on the “transdisciplinary approach” since 1989 to 1992, when I was working on a massive bark beetle infestation, on the Eldorado. As a Harvest Inspector, I was “given enough rope to hang myself”, coordinating with resource specialists and controlling loggers in a frenzied push to cut dead and dying timber, on the fly. Since I had skills and experience, my Sale Administrators gave me plenty of contractual authority to run more than one project at a time, while they worked with inexperienced HI’s. We produced checklists to make sure that the Botanists, Archaeologists, Wildlife Biologists and such signed off on each landing and skid trail system, before the fallers could come in and start cutting. In closely working with those specialists, I was able to gain their trust and see their points of view. Similarly, they could see the varied challenges of my job, and the results of the finished work. That mindset has served me well in the later years of my career, as “Ologist” issues became more acute.

    Sadly, some people now have decided that today’s Forest Service Ologists have been corrupted, are “traitors to the cause”, inept and not trustworthy. Despite the “deference” to Agency scientists, some courts continue to ignore that practice, when it suits their political and eco-non-logical views. *smirk*

    Today’s Ologists have to use the best available site-specific science, and make it understandable to laymen Judges. Certainly a challenging task, indeed.

  2. Re: “‘sound forest mangement’ (I’ll use ‘SFM’) a lot around here. I’m not quite sure what it means, though I suspect that others feel confident that they do. I do believe it can mean quite different things to different people, leading to radically different viewpoints on how to get there. And since “getting there” is presumably one reason to even think about a “new century of forest planning” (as opposed to simply recycling the last century), I thought I’d toss this out to get kicked around”
    –> Obviously, sfm “can mean quite different things to different people”. The same can quite probably be said for at least 25% of the words in any dictionary. Context is required to clarify and without training, context is meaningless to the observer.
    –> SFM is not a one size fits all solution it is no different than a doctor’s prescription. What is sound on flatlands for one soil and forest type is not necessarily sound for mountainous soils and forest types. What is sound where there are no endangered species is not necessarily sound for sites where there are endangered species.
    –> Like any other technical word, the definition requires professional understanding in order to go beyond an overly simplistic definition like SFM is Sustainable Forest Management (also abbreviated as SFM) appropriate for site specific conditions that complies with all laws, best management practices and established scientific principles. SFM is not an objective or a goal. SFM is a tool used to effectively achieve an objective or goal without destroying the goose that lays the golden egg.
    –> Anyone without a significant knowledge of forest ecosystems and their components will always be “not quite sure what it means” because they can’t relate to anything other than the oversimplified definition without additional training in direct proportion to the level of detail that they want to understand.
    –> So, in my humble opinion, you are making a little bit of a mountain out of a mole hill since this is a significantly more definable term than “environmentally friendly”, “possible environmental impact”, “ecological consistent with pre-european settlement”, “aesthetic integrity” or any other vague terminology used to remove SFM from our forests and impose self defeating wishful thinking as forest policy.

    In regards to the rest of your comments, I am of the opinion that you are being a little too professorial in trying to fit things into nice neat little boxes which is not life. Old vs. New is a very inappropriate attempt to partition. Off hand, I can not think of any established forestry related scientific principles that have changed. What is new is in the philosophy/goals, tools and evolving science in previously less studied corners of the business. Forest planning has changed because we have new tools like computers, GPS, GIS, modeling and lots of conflicting goals. In addition, we have destroyed and created some unproven theories/supposition and we have conducted more research and we have used continuing process improvement techniques to refine the application of the proven science. The scientific cornerstones are still sound.

    The only new thing that disturbs me is the rush to throw out the proven old cornerstones because some want to believe that old science that contradicts someone’s wishful thinking is no good.

    As LarryH says, trans-disciplinary is not new, what is new is thinking that a few short discussions and walks through the woods can make an ologist equal to a forester who has trans-disciplinary training as well as training pertinent to knowing what will sustain or destroy a forest in the long term. The ologists who over rule a group of professional foresters with expertise in the specific location and forest type are doomed to failure in the long run (i.e. the NSO). You and I have previously agreed that the Required Species for a forest ecosystem and its dependent species to exist is the trees. Every other species in the forest ecosystem is dependent on the trees maintaining that forest ecosystem. Everything lives or dies in accordance with the success of the trees. When the trees die en mass, the forest ecosystem and its dependent species all crash. That is not an insurmountable problem on a small acreage when SFM within a landscape maintains a reasonable proportion (matrix) of all appropriate forest ecosystems and age groups within the dispersal range of the dependent species. Without SFM, we end up with large homogenous stands created and controlled by catastrophe causing large losses of contiguous acreages larger than the dispersal range of some species. In the case of fast moving fire, the dispersal range is irrelevant if the species can’t outrun the fire.

    • “In the case of fast moving fire, the dispersal range is irrelevant if the species can’t outrun the fire.”

      In many cases, the habitat that the species depends upon cannot outrun the fire, either. *smirk*

      In the case of the blackbacked woodpecker though, the bird appears to chase the burning habitat. Personally, I think that once the birds lose that 6 years of habitat, they become “grazers”, roaming far and wide to sample patches of snags within green forests. Survival instinct drives that and, if they happen upon another burned patch, they live there, until they die, when their 8-year lifespan is up. If we devoted every burned acre to them, forests couldn’t grow back fast enough for them and they would be out of habitat completely, at some point, down the road. My Yosemite example shows no trees and no future snags. Sure, it supplied habitat for 6 years, then burned again after 25 years, leaving no seed sources.

      Luckily, us humans can manage and mitigate, if allowed to. Instead of pretending that “whatever happens” is best, as the serial litigators think.

    • hi Gil, “old school” vs “new school” was meant to be metaphorical, not literal categorization, sorry if I didn’t make that clear; if it’s not useful then by all means don’t use it.

      If we can say that SFM is a “significantly more definable term” than others you mention, then… can you provide a useful definition? And I’m suggesting that it should be a definition that is understandable and acceptable to wildlife folks, soil scientists, hydrologists, probably we should include recreationists too… in other words, if multiple-use forestry is still a viable concept, how can we define SFM in support of it? (versus, as Jon alludes to, “STM”, “SWM”, “SH2OM”, “SRM”, or any number of other narrowly-focused interpretations).

      I do think it’s a conceit of the forestry profession that foresters are somehow “transdisciplinary professionals” moreso than other disciplines, by virtue of their academic training and in-the-woods experience. I’ll agree that they’re probably the best at growing and harvesting trees. I elaborated on my own undergraduate (BSF) forestry training partly to make that point: in many important forest-related areas, that education was trivial or almost entirely lacking. And I’ve seen enough forestry curricula to know that my school (UNH) certainly wasn’t an outlier (pretty good school, same place that Sharon got her PhD, I believe). I’ve been to several SAF meetings focused on entomology and pathology issues, and in several cases the level of instruction and presentation (by and for professional foresters) was appalling (to someone who does research in those fields) (though I know that some of the best entomologists and pathologists out there are USFS researchers). But that’s ok, I wouldn’t be competent to stand up and rattle off a lecture on site index determination.

      Nobody knows everything, and professional foresters are no exception, neither are any of the multitude of “ologists”. So, if a new century of forest planning is on the agenda, and if sound forest management is how we hope to get there, then how can we better incorporate and accommodate these disparate viewpoints and voices? I don’t believe that “leave it to the forestry professionals” is a viable approach. That was the crux of my post, but maybe I didn’t express it clearly, or maybe this just isn’t the right forum to address it.

      • I’ve seen it proposed before that Foresters should start calling themselves “Forestologists”, to gain more respect from the scientific community. Indeed, we have to take all sorts of scientific facts into account when projects happen, and we shouldn’t need a Hydrologist to layout skid trails, when just following BMP’s and project specs suffice very well. Same for issues with other Ologists. Yes, there still are some Timber “dinosaurs” around who are still stuck in the 80’s. Just like the preservationists, those old school timber beasts are resistant to collaboration, consensus and compromise. Sadly, some people still want to call Foresters mean and nasty names, with extreme prejudice, pretending they are being “progressive”. You don’t have to look any further than the comments sections of major newspapers to find them. Ologists enjoyed working with me, because I would ask very thoughful and logical questions about their fields of study. Yes, it DOES take time and investment to gain their trust. Some people on both sides don’t want to make that investment.

        In the end, it is all about compromises and “turf wars” lead to gridlock. Just one look at the name “Earth First!” shows that they aren’t interested, at all, in the three “C-Words”, preferring “whatever happens”. It is no wonder that some continue to resist “collaborating with the enemy”, because it might lead to consensus and compromise.

  3. I was once taught that there is a difference between ‘multi-disciplinary’ and ‘interdisciplinary.’ The latter is the term used by NEPA (Section 102(2)(A)), and the key concept there seems to be “integrated use of the natural and social sciences and design arts.” But maybe ‘trans-disciplinary’ goes a little beyond this.

    I’ll buy Gil’s point that “sound” equals “sustainable,” but it’s SFM, not STM. Trees on public lands should not be managed simply for their own sake (volume or dollars), but rather for the benefit of everything that depends on them. Sometimes “homogenous stands created and controlled by catastrophe” may be good for those things. Sometimes “whatever happens is best.” The burden of proving otherwise should be on those proposing to “manage,” based on the facts of a particular situation. (What is sound on flatlands for one soil and forest type for board feet is not necessarily sound for the same soil and forest type for woodpeckers.)

    • This is probably as good as any:

      Types of Cross-Disciplinary Science

      multidisciplinary – researchers in different disciplines work independently or sequentially, each from his or her own disciplinary-specific perspective, to address a common problem.

      interdisciplinary – researchers work jointly, but from each of their respective disciplinary perspectives, to address a common problem.

      transdisciplinary – researchers work jointly using a shared conceptual framework that draws together discipline-specific theories, concepts, and approaches, to address a common problem.

      (Rosenfield, 1992)
      cited here: http://watercenter.unl.edu/downloads/HD%20Meeting%2010-29-10/Dobrowolski.pdf

  4. I think that we are actually quite closer to each other than we think and could actually make some progress if we could get away from stereotyping and imputing false attributes.

    I don’t have a problem with environmentalists except for those who aren’t but claim to be because they stand against all sound forest management because they think that all foresters are evil capitalists or whatever label is currently popular. In fact, I am a very well trained environmentalist with no ulterior motives other than doing what is best for the long term good of the world.

    I am still stereotyped on this blog as one who thinks that there is only one kind of forestry and that it is the same for industrial and public timberlands. I have said the opposite numerous times but people keep wanting to put me back into a one size fits all foresters stereotype box.

    GuyK Re: “If we can say that SFM is a “significantly more definable term” than others you mention, then… can you provide a useful definition?” and “I do think it’s a conceit of the forestry profession that foresters are somehow “transdisciplinary professionals” moreso than other disciplines, by virtue of their academic training and in-the-woods experience” and “how can we better incorporate and accommodate these disparate viewpoints and voices? I don’t believe that “leave it to the forestry professionals” is a viable approach”
    –> Your questions are an example of not seeing the words on the page.
    –> What is wrong with the definition that I gave and provided context for: “SFM is Sustainable Forest Management … appropriate for site specific conditions that complies with all laws, best management practices and established scientific principles. SFM is not an objective or a goal. SFM is a tool used to effectively achieve an objective or goal without destroying the goose that lays the golden egg.” I would look forward to addressing any shortcomings that you find with my definition and jointly coming up with some improved definition providing it doesn’t get too lofty so as to be meaningless to a lay person. So why don’t you take my definition and revise it according to your liking and we will iteratively either come together or reveal our irreconcilable differences.

    JonH: Where is there anything in my definition and its context above that defines sustainability as being board foot? I clearly state that SFM is a tool used to “effectively achieve an objective or goal”. That goal can be long term sustained species habitat, multiple objectives, maximum solid wood production or whatever. Please don’t put fences around my words that I didn’t put there.
    –> I obviously agree that it is SFM rather than STM. All foresters agree with that whereas there are many tree huggers who believe that it is STM.

    GuyK & JonH: The overarching role of the forester that I mention so often that disturbs you guys so much has nothing to do with any claim that foresters are ““transdisciplinary professionals” moreso than other disciplines”. What I have continuously stated on this site in various ways is summed up by saying that the role of the forester and SFM is to insure that the ologist’s & society’s objectives/goals on public lands are achieved “without destroying the goose that lays the golden egg”. Achievement of these societal goals can not be reached if they significantly ignore SFM practices and end up destroying the forest ecosystem that the objectives or goals depend on.
    –> Am I making any sense? Can’t you see that I am not making any claim that everyone should leave it to the foresters and I don’t think many foresters do either? What we are saying is that you can’t overrule foresters and ignore the science behind SFM as was done on our national forest and has resulted directly and indirectly from the NSO recovery plan and all of it’s ramifications which have made our forests more susceptible to catastrophic losses of forest ecosystem which is counter productive to the goals and objectives.
    –> Finally don’t assume that all forester’s are the same as those whose deficiencies you have observed. What deficiencies do you see in the forester’s here on this blog that are the result of their literal statements rather than imputations that you attribute to them because of deficiencies in your own education or some dumb clucks who made horrible, poorly researched and poorly thought out presentations by some introvert scarred out of his gourd making a public presentation at some SAF meetings that you attended. Poor application of the science behind SFM by some practitioners does not negate the validity of the science. This is exactly what has happened to forestry in our National Forests: all foresters are bad because some are bad so they all aren’t worth listening to so we can throw away the fundamental established scientific principles of plant physiology, entomology and fire science and there won’t be any bad consequences. Can’t you see the fallacy in that?

    The baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. Foresters just want back in the game because we can see that our predictions from back in the ’80’s and ’90’s have come true. We want back in the game because we are highly trained environmentalists and can’t stand to see what is happening to our national forests.

    I personally, couldn’t care less if anyone makes a buck off of our national forests. What I do care about is the reality that making a buck off of soundly managing our national forests can pay for a significant reduction in catastrophic losses and thereby provide for more long term sustainable aesthetics, habitat and recreational values and, at the same time, reduce the net cost to the taxpayer of maintaining our national forests. Does every acre in our national forests have to be managed in one specific way (i.e. matrix management)? No, there can be wilderness and other reservations, but at the landscape level, there had better be an integrated plan that provides dynamic buffers and a significant amount of heterogeneity in order to limit the scope and frequency of catastrophic losses, provide successional continuity and relatively stable habitat over the range of ecosystems required by the native denizens of the forest ecosystems found naturally in that landscape.

  5. Not seeing the forest for the trees, or any other component. “Before man” (in the case of our public forests in the Western USA there was no time in which man was not present and part of the process at, during, and since the demise of the last Ice Age), is an unrealistic goal of forest Utopians.

    Hunters, gatherers, and foragers, used the entirety of the landscape and over time, as populations grew, pre-Columbian, some land was dedicated to specific management of vegetative responses. Some even irrigated by diverted water. All of which determined to a very small degree as to what grew and lived where.

    Weather is a form of randomness, and fire from that randomness cannot fully explain the past fire fortunes of large landscapes. Some burned and some did not. Some burned far more often and frequent that what random weather events would produce. Today they all burn in one sense or another. Some more often than others. Random produced diversity, because the cleared ground was opportunity for pioneer species. Wind, migrating birds and other animals, man, all spread seed and species far and wide. Set fire further ordered the landscape in a non random way. So there were two overlapping management processes in play: one random and one ordered. The product was the vast “old growth” (cumulative survivors of centuries of fire events plus the growth since the last fire or fires) forest where you could walk in relative comfort for miles, could see potential food or threats, and promoted the growth of species of particular value to man and his survival.

    The big change was the post Columbian creation of metes and bounds, lawyers, and the establishment of government to determine ownership and use, both of private land and common lands. Not a biological, natural event. Law and order. The issue was to protect every individual, not the landscape. We were not founded on species or landscape protection, but the very idea that each person is special, valued, and has inalienable rights. And that thinking is not a part of the environmental litigation and results. The issue is the common good or what is perceived as the common good. NSO was for the common good. That didn’t go well. The rural recession is ongoing. The platitude producers didn’t create one job. The jobless created a vast criminal survival network and the idea that government is not here to protect them, to nurture them, as those issues are reserved for urban residents who might make life uncomfortable in the urban setting. The noisy wheel that got greased. The urban poor get the vast majority of help from government. Have you seen any “homeless camps” in the rural West, dedicated and included in governance by the locals? All paid for with Other People’s Money.

    My idea of diverse forest management is have the same process as the original intent of the Bureau of Reclamation had with the Public Domain and sending impounded runoff from reservoirs to bare, sere land: 80 acres in drawings to war veterans, the thought that 80 acres would support a hard working family, pay some taxes and build a rural economy. Only those ideas oft go astray, and did. Now the irrigation water goes to the less than ten percent of the farms that constitute, illegally some would claim, 90% of the water demand and use. A good idea got modified to a bad idea. The American Way. So I would manage forests the same way, but regulate for a different result. Sell 100 year management rights to individuals, knowing full well that corporations are individuals. Each one can bid on 80 acres. If it is not roaded, so be it. Time and STEM will find a way to utilize whatever the tenant for a century and/or his or her successors, would want. No real restrictions on what you could do with the vegetative growth. You have no rights to subsurface resources. No water wells, no fracking or digging holes, no excavation that is not equally, cubic yard by cubic yard, replaced by fill and that only for a very small percent of the land for management purposes. e.g., a low impact designed road. Or a cabin site with a square footage limit of 600 square feet. Total. All constructs for the whole of the 80 acres.

    You can choose to do nothing. You can log it. You can grow dope. Who cares? But whatever you do, you must disturb at least 1% of the ground each year, and you can compile no more than ten years into one event. Accumulate, if you will. You then could do one acre the next year, or go back in accumulation mode. The whole purpose is to have random disturbance on the whole landscape in a 100 year time period. Nobody is told what and when except for the mandate to do something with the vegetation, or lose the investment and your time on the process. A full lawyer employment act. A lot of inspectors looking at compliance. No EIS work. You can go in and clear cut your 80 in a year, put it into meadow by paying your entirety of the 100 year lease and fees up front, and then maintain it for your life time and those of your successors with the money you put up front for that purpose once you announce you will cut it all. The public commons has to have some protections for being paid and timely. Liens are for that purpose. Or that is how it works in the private sector. Timber only deeds. No land ownership. That stays with the US Govt. Much like the old recreation cabin leases, which became the focus of public disagreement and envy. And, the target for the tax man with both the US and counties vastly inflating structure values placed on leased land, land on which leases can expire and then demolition is demanded. The Feds can and do do that, as we know.

    As usual, I rambled. But my idea is that true randomness and diversity does not come from Central Planning, or our Congress. All we get from them is layer upon layer of bureaucratic paralysis and clogged cultural and financial arteries, all for the “common good.” Better we have a diverse, random process, and you, too, can put up and be a manager of your own 80, or be a critic and have a lifetime of being the sneering fault finder like I have.

    Weyerhaeuser is a bureaucracy and the results are to be expected from the maw of a giant like they are. Size has limitations on the upside, as well on the down size. Hard to corral tens of thousands of individuals, or keep an eye on millions of acres and not end up with a one size fits all approach. Both the USFS and Weyerhaeuser are hide bound by our culture, and the culture of business and government ownership. They can’t help themselves. So if I sound like some despot in Zimbabwe, it is by intent. The vast white owned farms of the former Rhodesia are now owned by political cronies of Mugabe and are leased out to tens of thousands of one acre subsistence farmers with wood tools, no irrigation, none of those awful commercial fertilizers (which in some African countries are strictly limited so as to not produce crop surpluses), and Zimbabwe is a dependent food importer today. I would expect that managing forests in the same manner would have the same result. Little timber cut. Nobody could afford the equipment or cost. Some lands would go unattended for how ever long the lease would allow. Some would “go back”, like in being repossessed like a used car. Or as in the case of one old guy who worked for a company I did, took his ill fitting false teeth to the banker who inquired as to why he hadn’t made two payments on them. Curly let his teeth “go back.” The boss, who had co-signed on the note, was stuck with Curly’s false teeth. They got fixed and Curly began to pay the boss back out of each paycheck. Sort of like poor Americans do today, in exchange for their vote. They let their former freedoms “go back.” Now government has to manage the landscape if they can get by the protectors of the NGO revenue streams and their never ceasing litigation of all things, neither wise nor wonderful, but can be large or small, and to make sure there is none to love them, one and all.

  6. Gil, I am a forester (cue Darth Vader). My skepticism of foresters comes mostly from my 10 years or so of membership in SAF and hearing way too many times why foresters had the best or only answer.

    I tend to want to counter-balance statements like: “… what is new is thinking that a few short discussions and walks through the woods can make an ologist equal to a forester who has trans-disciplinary training as well as training pertinent to knowing what will sustain or destroy a forest in the long term. The ologists who over rule a group of professional foresters with expertise in the specific location and forest type are doomed to failure in the long run (i.e. the NSO).” This strikes me as egotistical and divisive.

    But I prefer to question facts. Your perspective seems to based on this idea, that I question: “NSO recovery plan and all of it’s ramifications which have made our forests more susceptible to catastrophic losses of forest ecosystem.” That sounds like blaming fires in old growth habitat on lack of logging. I know this has been discussed a lot, but I’d appreciate the definitive source for that (a cite to a previous blog topic would be fine).

    • After personally seeing devastated “owl circles” in the Biscuit Fire, you can count me as concerned. However, parts of that landscape would have been quite difficult and expensive to “manage”. The focus needs to be on the actual nest trees, as they are THE limiting factor in current owl survival issues. I doubt that ANY management solution would be effective, or even possible in today’s litigiously-complicated world. The easy way out would be to let whatever happens, happen, then point out how ineffective and costly that mindset is. Remember, every decision is a compromise and it is often a decision that doesn’t work for any side. Do we play a “shell game”, shifting owl circles when the current ones burn up? Here in California, we have a little more flexibility to “manage” core habitats. I doubt that is the case for the NSO. I really think we have to accept that the NSO is doomed, no matter what we do (or try to do).

      Welcome to the new reality! It will be easier to walk away from this issue, and accept “whatever happens”. It won’t be cheaper, though, metaphorically AND economically.

  7. JonH

    Re: “This strikes me as egotistical and divisive.”
    —> We’ve had this discussion before. My response obviously didn’t mean anything to you before, so why should I bother to repeat myself?

    Re: “That sounds like blaming fires in old growth habitat on lack of logging”
    —> Jon, if you are a forester and you don’t understand the plant physiology, entomology and fire science behind this, then I would have to ask whether you are a forester with any significant involvement in forest management or in technical support of actual forest management decision making? Being an expert in filling out NEPA or whatever required forms doesn’t make anyone a forester. In addition, this has been discussed on this blog too many times to count and you have been involved in those discussion so if it didn’t mean anything to you before, why should I think that it will matter to you know?

    Re: “I know this has been discussed a lot, but I’d appreciate the definitive source for that (a cite to a previous blog topic would be fine)”
    —> As you acknowledge, “this has been discussed a lot”. So why should I do your homework for you and go back through the blog to make life easy on you? Everything on your assignment list for me to do has been discussed here at least twenty times. “This strikes me as egotistical and divisive.”
    —> “this has been discussed on this blog too many times to count and you have been involved in those discussion so if it didn’t mean anything to you before, why should I think that it will matter to you know?”

    Darth Vador: Your disdain for foresters while claiming to be one and while ignoring the value of forest management (including logging when appropriate) seems to illustrate that you don’t understand sound forest management. Otherwise, you wouldn’t let your impressions of certain people override long established scientific principles. What indicates to me that you are not a forester (a college degree does not make you a forester) is that you fail to see the value of keeping stand densities below certain thresholds in order to: 1) reduce the build up of fuels, 2) maintain a healthy stand vigor to provide better resistance to insect and disease and 3) provide appropriate spacing and dynamic buffers to minimize the extent and frequency of catastrophic fire and insect outbreaks. Ignoring these basic principles qualifies you as one who has no recollection that the forestry profession forecast what has happened, unfortunately their insights were ignored by the SAF and the ologists in the NSO recovery act and its indirect repercussions resulting in an 80% reduction in NF harvest levels. BTW, the SAF membership is down to ~10,000 largely because it ignored the majority of its members on this and several other issues. I’ve been a member since 1964.

    So, Its in your hands, Darth Vador, You may not have noticed, but your black suit has a lot of soot on it. Let our NF’s burn. As much as I’ve tried here and elsewhere, I can’t enlighten anyone who already has all of the answers. Your wisdom is so infinitely better than mine, so I must be seeing things when I look at a graph that shows acres burned by year. Naturally, someone who doesn’t understand the scientific principles behind forest ecosystems would say that it is just coincidence that acres burned by year shows a very significant up turn since the 80% reduction in harvest levels. Some conveniently forget that forester’s said that this would be the outcome. I have repeatedly mentioned my willingness to come up with compromises. But I can not compromise the science because I don’t control the science behind sound forest management any more than I can control the science behind gravity. Keep at it Darth Vader, let faux environmentalism/preservation destroy significantly more habitat and endanger more species than would have occurred if sound forest management had been used. The soot is on you.

    One final question. How can you consider yourself a serious environmentalist if you can’t even remember past discussions that we have had here on this blog regarding the pros and cons of various policy alternatives and practices? Is this just a game that you play while our forests burn so that you can show how smart you are? This isn’t a game to me. Our whole environment including endangered species depends on not ignoring long established, fundamental, scientific principles. I’m tired of wasting my time thinking that various people here would listen to the science instead of their wishful thinking. LarryH has it right, let it burn, maybe someone will catch on eventually and come up with some new forestry in the future that they can pretend isn’t just a rediscovery of the same scientific principles that were ignored by them in the past.

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