A guest post from Foto.
I keep hoping that your blog stays focused on “using the best science”. I use an alias because I hope to work for the Forest Service again. I could be “blacklisted” if I am too visible with my real name. The Forest Service doesn’t like having its dirty laundry displayed for all to see!
One of the biggest and most confusing issues is that groups send out blanket appeals/litigation against the cutting of old growth when, at the same time, they claim that there is so very little old growth left. The non-Healthy Forests projects are all targeted. If there is sooooo little old growth left, how come it is, apparently, being cut on every thinning project being litigated?!? The enviros have their own definitions of “old growth”, usually based on diameter. For example, I measured a tree in the Coast Range of Oregon and it was 32″ dbh. Of course, the enviros are going to claim that tree is “old growth”, despite it being only 61 years old! Here in California, enviros consider any tree above 20″ dbh to be “old growth”.
Another big litigation issue is salvage logging. People like Chad Hanson have tunnelvision is his quest to save the snags. He even litigates to stop roadside hazard tree projects. Clearly, salvage logging can accelerate the re-establishment of forests where bark beetles and catastrophic wildfires have decimated them. Currently, academia is also on a quest to eliminate ALL salvage logging. The A-Rock Fire example I provided is a perfect illustration of how a lack of salvage has resulted in a devastating re-burn. It will now take decades for pine to get seeded into the interior of last year’s re-burn.
In this new Planning Rule process, I’m hoping that the efforts are not to “re-invent” forests into “re-wilded” landscapes that utilize “unstewardship”. Some people want to lock up dead and dying forests to “let nature take its course”. “Natural ignitions” in “unnatural” forests always results in “unnatural” wildfires. Also, the spread of pure lodgepole forests in the Rockies has resulted in the loss of the ponderosa pine component that was fire resistant and resilient. The suppression of wildfires has encouraged lodgepoles to be more dominant and unstewardship will lock in their domination. The legal gridlock will ensure that future forests will be pure lodgepoles. The eco-community will not allow humans to intervene and restore the ponderosa pine forests where lodgepoles now are dead.