Greenwire: “Western governors call for revamping Forest Service”

Article published today, June 28….

“Pointing to ‘significant dissatisfaction’ with the management of national forests, the Western Governors’ Association yesterday approved a resolution that calls in part for overhauling the Forest Service.

The seven-page policy resolution was adopted after a yearlong review of best practices and policies for forest and rangeland management in an effort spearheaded by current WGA Chairman and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D).”

….

Key paragraph from the resolution:

“Today, the Forest Service’s forest management program is primarily a byproduct of restoration projects intended to reduce wildfire risk and/or improve forest resilience, water quality, watershed health, key wildlife habitat, and/or intrinsic value. Western Governors recognize and support these forest values, but also believe it is reasonable to expect that some portion of the federal landscape will be focused on long-term, ecologically-sound forest management — where jobs, forest products, and revenues are priorities and generated through sound stewardship.”

Of course, “some portion” already is being managed as they describe, but….

“There is significant dissatisfaction in the West among many stakeholders with the current level of National Forest management. There is a general sense that the current level of forest management is not meeting anyone’s needs, whether it’s putting logs on trucks, protecting water quality, addressing fire risk, protecting key habitats and landscapes, providing for recreation, or other important community needs. Successful forest management reform will achieve a balance among all of these important objectives, and provide the opportunity for certainty such that diverse interests will be encouraged to work together to achieve shared outcomes.”

12 Comments

  1. May I add that the dissatisfaction with F.S. management is not confined to western governors. While the non-management of eastern forests is not as apparent as those in the west (not as many dead trees) it is just as real and causing just as much economic and social damage to communities. I’ve just run the figures separately for NF unreserved timberlands in east and west. The east is currently cutting 9% of its gross annual timber growth (GAG). The west is cutting 7%. Some forests are harvesting as little as 2% of the growth.

    Mortality differs dramatically. In the east 32% of the GAG dies each year; in the west 76%.

  2. Tony, Thank you for your interest. The data are a dis-aggregation of the info used to construct the chart for the national Timber Cut, Growth, Mortality chart that was posted on this blog by Sharon on 2 June, 2017. Net growth and mortality are from Table 33 and 34 of the 2017 RPA Review Draft, gross growth is the sum of net growth and mortality. Cut is from the USFS annual cut and sold reports. Both are online. https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=USFS+FIA+RPA+2017+review+draft.

    Incidentally, the staff of FIA reviewed the national chart and its basis before the chart went public. Here’s what they said:
    “Yes, these numbers you have attached match the numbers I have in the latest data.
    I think you are ok to go with these, although given they are draft, still, I cannot promise with 100% certainty they won’t change, but I do not expect them to.”

  3. On planning (interesting to me because I’ve been hearing that the FS/Tidwell “all lands” policy is dead):
    “Collaborative planning and project implementation across National Forests and state and private forest lands on a larger scale allows for more diverse interests to address their particular needs for a landscape or a watershed. Taking a broad look at a landscape for planning purposes minimizes the challenges associated with managing lands for the benefit of a particular species or to address a specific need. Well-planned projects that are strategically placed across a landscape can result in a higher level of benefits than those that are more randomly or opportunistically placed. Processes
    associated with planning and implementing a project have become so time consuming and expensive for National Forests in particular that a disincentive often exists for their managers to proceed with management actions that are needed to attain desired ecological, social, and economic objectives.”

    Nice of them to acknowledge this –
    “Our nation’s forests belong to all Americans, and in the end and through their elected representation all Americans will determine the scope and success of any efforts to reform forest management.”

    • It seems to me that the western Govs know it’s silly for the Feds to act independently and can be frustrated that even different federal agencies can’t necessarily work together.. so they will be proponents of the concept of working together… but like any sound bite “all lands all hands” can mean “working together” or “more money for S&PF” or ????. The new administration may (although I don’t know what they are thinking) have different ideas than the previous one about the details, but not about the general concept because it’s fairly vague..

      Just think of the opposite to “All Lands All Hands”- what would it be.. ???”Feds-Manage Your Land and Don’t Pay Attention to Other Landowners or Give States $”. Don’t think that would be very popular with Govs.. 😉

  4. Odd. The governors statement recognizes that the agency is constrained by Climate Change but no mention of the need to maintain and increase carbon storage in forests, or the fact that “logging for logging’s sake” would increase GHG emissions.

    • 2nd – I don’t think it’s that simple as “increasing GHG emissions.” I think it depends on what the product is used for, and what other products with what other carbon footprints it supplants. Actually I also don’t think that anyone would need to do “logging for logging’s sake” as there are plenty of reasons to thin stands for (mostly) changing fire behavior to protect communities and species and I think that would be enough to satisfy many folks.

    • The entire pool of sequestered wood carbon MUST include every wood product still in use, as well as what is in growing forests. Besides, harvesting wood allows more trees to start sequestering more carbon. Additionally, how much of the more powerful GHG’s are produced as hundreds of millions of dead trees rot, instead of being used in wood products? Of course, opponents will describe a strawman scenario about nutrients, organic matter and biodiversity. Of course, no one is proposing cutting trees and snags everywhere but, ‘Land Use Changes’ that come with bark beetles and wildfires result in massive increases in GHG’s.

    • National Forests are managed according to their Land Management Plans – there are Desired Conditions, Standards & Guidelines and other management direction for each land allocation. Some of those Land Allocations are compatible with timber harvest and some are not. Carbon sequestration is just one of the many ecosystem services that forests provide. And, in fire-prone forests, increasing carbon storage is not always sustainable.
      There is a new GTR available – WO-GTR-95 that discusses carbon and land management for grasslands and forests. You can find it here on TreeSearch: https://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/54316

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