Salvage Logging Can Reduce Danger For Decades

This article from the Payson, Ariz., Roundup, “Salvage Logging Can Reduce Danger For Decades,” mentions a recent paper from the PNW Rwesearch station. It’s not that recent — 2015. I think this is it.

The news article summarizes what some folks on this blog have said:

“The unlogged stands had relatively low fuel loads right after the fire, but the downed wood still ready to burn built up steadily for the next 20 years. The greater amount of wood on the ground remained measurable for 40 years after the burn.

“In the logged stands, the amount of brush and wood and debris on the ground increased right after the fire. That’s probably because the loggers harvested the trunks of the trees, but left behind branches and other debris. After that, the amount of fuel on the ground declined steadily and significantly — without the slow death and toppling of the big trees killed by the initial fire.”

The study looked at fuels, not erosion, habitat, etc.

3 Comments

  1. Recognizing that small fuels are the most hazardous and large fuels are the least hazardous, the best way to summarize this paper is: “salvage logging increase fuel loads and fire hazard for 5-7 years, followed by a 40 year shortage of large woody habitat.”

  2. What am I missingt? If small fuel fires are more hazardous than large fuel fires, then why isn’t a grass fire the worst of all fires? Most people would prefer to have a grass fire burning near their house as compared to a larger fueled brush fire. Hum? So how is the smaller fuel a more hazardous fire? There are conditions when small fuels do create a more hazardous fire. But it is not always true. Here is another question? Have you ever built a fire? Boy Scouts taught us to carefully “stack” the wood, overlaying the pieces one on top of the other. Fire prefers to burn “up” as compared to “down”. So which is the more hazardous fire, 500 piecies of small wood scattered all over the place or 200 pieces of the same of wood carefully stack upon each other? Anyone who has ever built a fire would agree stacking the wood makes a much bigger fire. Third queistion. Which creates the most hazardous fire, small pieces of very wet wet wood or large pieces of very dry wood? Most would agree dry wood is more hazardous than than the wet wood. And the last question. Which is the easiest to get burning Cedar or Cottonwood? Would you rather have a large loading of small cottonwood branches, or large loading of larger cedar branches? How many years does it take for a cottonwood to dry out so it will burn? The last two examples are related to fuel humidity. So a blacket statement that small fuels are more hazardous than large fuels is not necessarily always true. There are many factors that need to be considered. No doubt some poor logging jobs have created bigger problems by not adequately addressing the slash. But I can also provide you some examples of beautiful logging jobs that left only enough slash to provide adequate wildlife habitat and while decreasing the remaining forest’s risk to catastrophic wildfire. Logging contracts need to be written that clearly require that wildlife habitat and slash be addressed under the best forest management practicies. By doing so, forests are protected, communities can be protected, watersheds protected and wildlife habitat protected.

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