Biscuit “Scenic” Pictures

This is an example of a “protected” nesting site for a northern spotted owl. It was never logged and will not be habitat for many decades, especially if a reburn occurs. It sure doesn’t look “natural and beneficial”, to me, OR the owls and goshawks.

Here are the kind of snags (the large orange-marked one) that were selected to be “saved”, within Biscuit cutting units. Of course, only 4% of the 500,000 acres of the Biscuit were salvaged, so there certainly is no lack of snags in the huge burn.

Here is a cutting unit where mortality was close to 100%, in unlogged old growth. Instead of thinning a green stand, we ended up “thinning” snags.

Here is some erosion, in a small gully. I wonder what the “cumulative impacts” of hundreds of similar gullies have upon salmon populations, and other aquatic organisms. Surely, some of these gullies experienced accelerated erosion in the 5+ years since I took this picture.

10 thoughts on “Biscuit “Scenic” Pictures”


    Note the high-intensity burned areas not under the smoke!

    Of course, Rolf Sklar’s paper discounts the damages since 2004, and doesn’t include pictures from inside cutting units. Also, the volume figures never approached Rolf’s figures, as well. Their “not one stick” slant has clearly affected their ability for objective thought.

    So, where are the damages from logging?!? (Not that I am saying there weren’t any, of course!) What was wrong with cutting ONLY dead trees?!?!?

    • Larry, I seem to recall that something like 100,000 acres of what burned in Biscuit was actually set by the Forest Service as backburns, which by their very nature are high-intensity. Not exactly sure what your smoke picture shows, but it certainly looks like those high-intensity burned areas are in just the type of place where one would put a back-burn, given the location of the roads/homes, etc.

      • Those areas were where the biggest fuels were, and since some of those areas were “Late Successional Reserves”, they never had any fuels treatments. You don’t light a backfire and let it roll and intensify uphill to your fireline. You just don’t do that, and hold the fireline. With spot fires documented at two miles ahead of the flame fronts, conventional tactics simply do not work in the heavy fuels, dry conditions and unpredictable winds. It simply was a major failure of fuels management, and not tactics.

  2. TOO FUNNY!!! In looking for a specific picture showing barkbeetle expansion, I browsed through the Sessions Report, and lo and behold, there was one of my pictures, taken off another website, and used without credit in the report. It’s the second time I’ve seen that picture “stolen” off a site that I granted usage to. Interesting!

  3. Here is a less slanted, and more comprehensive view of the destructive Biscuit Fire.

    A large part of the fire’s intensity was due to the lack of salvage logging from the 1987 Silver Fire. The re-burn boosted both fire intensity and rate of spread. What also was fascinating was the description of a HUGE plume of smoke that would build until the sheer weight of smoke and actual debris, including soil, collapsed in on itself, pushing embers in ALL directions, causing spot fires that were impossible to contain. Certainly, strategic fuelbreaks and thinning projects could have helped to contain this monster of a fire.

    • “Lohrey had studied the map, memorizing the twists and turns in the terrain. He knew that if the fire wasn’t stopped immediately, it could become the most destructive wildfire
      in modern history, burning to the Pacific Coast, the California redwoods, and the Rogue River, threatening the lives and homes of 50,000 people.”

      It mattered not how many acres were backburned, as they would have burned anyway. Indeed, MORE acres, MORE homes and MORE habitats would be burned without a change in tactics. MAYBE, 100,000 were abandoned to the fire but, they didn’t have the manpower to accomplish that many acres of backburn, especially since other fires were burning at the same time. By the time the decision was made, no other option was available. Stopping the fire from burning into the Illinois Valley, as well as into Grants Pass, itself, could not be done by “Let-Burn” tactics, or by direct attack.

      Also, “proper” backburns should be lit closer to the flame fronts, backing their way out to the firelines. Just torching them off at the bottom of a steep slope isn’t the way to set them. I do think they did set some like that, though, under emergency conditions and extreme terrain.

  4. Larry,

    Your photos here reminded me of Tim Hermach’s “STUMPS DON’T LIE!” Only in this case, I guess that it is: SNAGS DON’T LIE! Although I’m probably misusing the term “snags.”
    Can a whole stand (or multiple stands) of dead standing trees be referred to as “snags”?

    Just like in the 1988 Yellowstone Fires, I want to see what has happened 20, 30, 50, 100 years out: both in photos and in stories, based on science. [Note: I was going to use a modifier in front of science, like “good” or “credible,” but I decided that a modifier might not add value, since anything that is not considered science is likely the stuff of pseudoscience. Then again, what is considered science today, may be blasted as nonsense in the future as scientific paradigms shift. So it goes.]

    PS.. Like you, I’m not all that high on “peer review” as an end-all, be-all, since many specialists’ groups only talk to themselves, and self-reinforce their belief-systems. On the other hand, it is good that specialists talk among themselves to advance their belief systems, and sometimes even to subject their belief systems to reality-checks.

    • As always, there is more to the story than just the pictures I present. Much of the Biscuit isn’t the thick “rainforest” that some think the Oregon Coast Range “should” be. The unusual geology of those mountains dictate what grows there, and the unique conditions led to the diversity of the trees found there. I did see dead Brewer’s Spruce (sort of the Weeping Willows of the Picea genus) growing in extremely rocky soils. Those areas had plenty of mortality, despite less dense forests. I was happy to see that some did survive. The fire did jump around, leaving some less damaged areas but, many, many tens of thousands of acres of high-intensity fire is still too much to be considered “natural and beneficial”.

      I did propose a re-visit to the Biscuit, to the local folks who post here, from time to time. Bob Zybach and Mike Dubraisich also have ample experience with the Biscuit, and a field trip together might reveal some useful observations about how damaging the firestorm really was. Bob has some very useful archival video of damages to the Babyfoot Lake area, as well. It would be wise to compare the logged areas, with the untouched areas, with the “Late Successional Reserves”.

      Yes, pictures CAN lie. I’m reminded of front page pictures, including one for a Pulitzer Prize story, which lie about what is represented. When I worked in Idaho, on salvaging the massive Rabbit Creek Fire of 1994, the Idaho Statesman put a picture of a stump, next to a creek, on their front page, claiming that the Forest Service “broke the law” by cutting trees too close to streams. However, the camera angle didn’t include the fact that the tree was adjacent to a well-traveled road and bridge.

      Regarding peer review, some “scientists” prefer “blind” peer review, for obvious reasons. I think that if you are offering a peer review, you should be required to OWN it. The “Donato Debacle” had people wondering just WHO would support such a narrow flawed study, which disregards that unsalvaged trees would eventually fall, killing many new trees, and adding to the re-burn inevitabilities. Also not presented was the fact that none of the study areas were actually deficient in natural regeneration, especially in helicopter units. The fact that only dead trees were harvested added to that inescapable conclusion that “Post-fire logging DOESN’T necessarily Hinder Forest Regeneration and Recovery”.

      • I agree with the concept of blind peer review, but the fact is that many of our science communities are so small that getting the right person and keeping it secret are might nigh impossible. Secrets can also encourage backstabbing kinds of competitive behavior. Not particularly attractive behavior, but scientists are primarily human beings.


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