Studies Conclude Forests Facing A Bleak, Dry Future: From Payson Roundup


We have discussed many studies on this blog, but I don’t remember this one.. anyone have more info on it? Here’s a link to the (article?op-ed?couldn’t tell) in the Payson Roundup.

The first study, published in Forest Ecology and Management, concluded that uncontrolled crown fires racing through thick stands of unthinned timber pose a grave danger to the northern spotted owl, an old-growth forest dependent raptor long at the center of the timber wars.

#The researchers from Oregon State University and Michigan State University concluded that after a century of suppressing fires and allowing unnaturally thick stands of timber to grow, the Forest Service has dramatically changed the impact of fire.

#Instead of frequent, low-intensity fires that cleared out deadwood and saplings, millions of acres now face the threat of intense, soil-sterilizing fires that will consume the old-growth reserves set aside for the spotted owls.

#Historically, ground fires burn through debris on the floor of old-growth forests, without climbing into the lower branches of the big trees. However, in a forest crowded with saplings, fire climbs into the tops of the big trees and spreads from treetop to treetop. As a result, fires start in the forests crowded with saplings then spread into the treetops of even old-growth patches set aside to protect endangered species like goshawks and spotted owls — which do best hunting under a closed forest canopy.

#John Baily, with Oregon State University, observed that the Forest Service for “many years” has “avoided almost all management on many public lands.”

#He said that the Forest Service has been “kicking the can down the road,” which makes eventual “stand replacing” fires inevitable. “Sooner or later a stand replacing fire will come that we can’t put out. Then the fires are enormous.”

#The Wallow Fire in the White Mountains in 2011 consumed more than 500 square miles of forest, including many designated critical habitat areas for Mexican spotted owls. Only thinned buffer areas saved communities like Alpine.

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