Rough and Ready: The Other Story

RoughandReadyClearcutEarlier in the week the owners of the Rough and Ready Lumber mill south of Cave Junction, Oregon announced they were closing their doors for good. There was one reason cited by the owners: A lack of logging on Forest Service and BLM lands in southwestern Oregon.  Jennifer Phillippi even went so far as to describe the situation this way, “It’s like sitting in a grocery store not being able to eat while the produce rots around you.”

Well, if you wander away from the timber mill’s talking points even a little bit and talk with actual neighbors in southwestern Oregon who have witnessed Rough and Ready’s handywork over the years, you get a much different story  – a story of over-cutting, mis-management, toxic contamination and political manipulation.

Jennifer Elliott with the NBC station in Medford has the other side of the story (click here to watch the news segment):

Today, as the last saw mill in Josephine and Jackson county announces it’s plans to close, some residents are sharing the other side of the story: one they say includes political manipulation, mis-management, and contamination. For some, the news that Rough and Ready Lumber in Cave Junction is going out of business threw up a red flag.  Residents fear the threat to close is a ploy to gain access to more timber.

Residents say they’ve seen this happen before. “It’s been some years back the Rough and Ready mill was up for sale,” says South Cave Junction Neighborhood Watch member, Guenter Ambron.

“It’s just wrong,” says a neighbor of Rough and Ready, too scared to identify herself on camera for fear of retaliation. She tells us there’s more than meets in the eye in the company’s announcement to close. “I think it’s being used as a tool to push our representatives and governor into giving them O&C lands,” continues the neighbor.

She says at one point, Rough and Ready was considered a self sufficient company with private logging lands, but she says it’s their own fault they’re out of wood.”If they actually maintained their resource lands and had not clear cut and sprayed with poisons they would actually have a constant supply of timbers to harvest.”

“Now they go in and take this land and bio massed it, all of money they’ve done combined could not pay for the damages it’s done for us, ” says Orville Camp, who lives below a 60 acre area he says was clear cut and sprayed by a group he claims has ties to Rough and Ready Lumber.

“You can see it’s all dead down here,” he remarks.

He tell us that’s part of the reason the wood can’t grow back for this company as well as other timber groups with the same plight.

“They say the land is no longer sustainable for growing trees, which is kind of true.”

Plus, he says it’s destroyed his personal watershed, created a fire hazard, and contaminated his ponds.

We contacted Rough and Ready owner Jennifer Krauss Phillippi for her thoughts on these accusations. She was unavailable for comment.

“For the Phillippi’s to think they’re entitled to our public lands is wrong,” says the anonymous neighbor.

We do know Oregon’s governor is in contact with Rough and Ready owners, but we do not have any information as to the details of that communication.

60 thoughts on “Rough and Ready: The Other Story”

  1. Not a simple story, I was just in Illinois Valley and I heard that another major reason for the mill’s woes was the high prices for logs driven by the export market which is now hitting $750/mbf. Perhaps this is inaccurate.

    Perhaps this is incorrect, the mill also uses larger sized logs not typical of the export market and harder to come by,

    BTW, two years after Biscuit fire, 8 of the 12 salvage sales only had a single bidder. There were few mills capable of handling such large logs in SW Oregon.

    Contending that there is federal timber in Biscuit fire that could have kept that mill going seems a fallacy 11 years after the fire,

  2. A nice one sided account…but it’s fair to present the other side of the story. I sense the “lady in red” is more than a neighbor…is she a memeber of an enviro group…she seems to be pretty well versed. The “old guy neighbor”…ya know, if I owned property…I doubt I’d want a clearcut across my fence…it’s an old problem of aesthetics when you butt up against urban…but as far as poisoning it so it will never grow…I doubt it. Maybe herbicide it to keep down competeing brush. From the rings on the stump…it looked like they clearcut a 30-40 year old clearcut.
    The rest of the story I’d like to hear…is who, or what group, set this interview up with the reporter? But I guess that doesn’t matter either. I always like the opposing point of view that “wasn’t available for comment” line. Huh. You’d think they’d like to at least respond to accusations that they poisoned the land so it’ll never grow back. I always wonder “what the rest of the story is.” Otherwise…no problem…taken with a grain of salt.

  3. Derek: The only reason this is a “one sided account” is because, as the reporter points out, “We contacted Rough and Ready owner Jennifer Krauss Phillippi for her thoughts on these accusations. She was unavailable for comment.”

    The real “one sided account” of this story was the one presented in Steve W’s post, in which the mill owners claimed the only reason the mill was closing was a lack of logging on federal public lands.

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that the ““old guy neighbor” in the video is Orville Camp. In 1951 he built a sawmill in Selma, Oregon (just north of Cave Junction) with his uncle on his property. Orville has not only lived in the Illinois Valley area for decades, but he’s also logged throughout the area and milled his fair share of wood at his own mill. I found out about the TV news story through an email sent out by Orville’s wife. According to her, the reporter contacted the Camps’ directly because the reporter knew there was more to the story than simply what Rough and Ready Lumber were saying. So that’s how the interview was set up, Derek.

    • Good enough Matt…sometimes I need to curb my suspicious mind. There’s not a conspiracy behind every tree. Just folks with different opinions.

    • This isn’t the other story, it’s a biased unchecked position from a vested opposition. The reporter takes the low road and plays on sensationalism instead of due diligence.

      Interesting that we see the ‘unavailable for comment’ tag placed on a community member with a history of accessibility and daily quotes in media statewide. Does anyone really think this is an unedited, contextual position? Why would no access be unique to this reporter when Ms. Phillippi has been quoted so profusely and candidly?

  4. I know Orville pretty well and applaud his management of his own forest land, Yes, rough and ready lands were overcut as almost all private lands in SW Oregon but to say that the clearcut above him is sterile is a gross overstatement. I do not applaud the use of herbicides but Orville too often thinks that anybody managing the forest different than himself is destroying it. He has a right to his own opinions of course but he disliked almost all federal thinning and fuels management that I considered quite innocuous.

    In any case, there was a lot less timber available on Biscuit than many at OSU liked to believe, I eviscerated much of that thinking in several reviews I did. Even taking the timber closest to the road in the salvage sales, the Government Accounting office concluded that they still lost money. ( they did make money on the roadside hazard logging but that is another issue, it was in summary a scam under the categorical exclusion with some timber 120 yards above roads taken and sold at a sweet price of $300/mbf since it used short reach cable logging, not copters like 70% of the rest of the Biscuit sales.)

    Whatever, no more fictions about Biscuit please.

    Can more federal logs come out of SW Oregon? Yes, absolutely, but i am not sure how to accomplish this in the best manner.Without the highly productive plantations seen in the coast range further north, there is not as much volume to take out.

    • I think more could have been taken out of the Biscuit Fire. First, they didn’t want to cut any trees with green needles on them, as the Forest Service needed a valid updated set of wildfire mortality guidelines, at that time. Surely, many trees lost those remaining needles after the loggers had left. Also, I saw a few spotted owl PACs that had near 100% mortality. I would think that some of the snags within those decimated habitats could have been harvested.

      Some of those lands in SW Oregon are very steep and have diverse geologies. Despite the ample rainfall, some of those lands aren’t very “productive”. I think it is a mistake to cling to the old clearcut, plant and grow techniques of the past. Sure, I can see the value of limited clearcutting, in some cases. However, convincing the public seems impossible, at this point in time. I think the forests will be fine, as long as we used site-specific science to guide our decisions.

  5. Truth be told, after monitoring most of the Biscuit salvage units for an enviro group and later on my own after I quit that, i saw that Biscuit salvage was done a lot better than many thought, I did not like it but with the huge area left in riparian buffers on those upper slopes, there was precious little left to cut. Suggesting this was a sacrilege in some circles and I got trashed by a few nut cases, But NWFP regs held the line on it, and held it well. And with my smiling visage in their office, the reasonable one, and my obsessive field checks of those buffers, impacts on those mostly copter logged units were not so bad. I can;t say the same for the roadside hazard logging with cables but that is another story.

    It was the last great battle of the timber wars, both sides went through their kabuki dance with the FS proposing a 370 mmbf sale which slid down to less than 100 mmbf in the end,

    some of it looks pretty ugly but others look surprisingly good.

    BTW, some luminaries published an aerial picture of the most contentious LSR salvage area up at Fiddler, contending that is showed the salvage impacts. This was too typical, I came to expect it when half of the cut over area seen in the pic was logged decades before.

    But, overall the industry side was much worse, the way they dried to trash the Donato regen study was reprehensible. I countered that pretty well with a report on my own observations to the NW congressional delegation.

    I could write a novel about it, I was a hero to some in the FS while I was hated by others, I was there again a few days ago and it sure depressed me, Such is life in a civil war,

  6. Greg, I think the Donato study was politicized from the point of publication at least. (e.g., why and where it was published). IMHO it was not framed in a way helpful to decisionmakers, nor was there an opportunity for the kind of dialogue we see here.. in a specific place.

    My thoughts (if there had been a place to put them) would also have been critical (not so much of the study, but how the study was interpreted in terms of management).

    So now I’m curious about how timber industry “tried to trash” them.

    • The “active management” backlash against Donato, et al., came from several quarters. BLM terminated his research funding, which we helped to restore through the good offices of Senator Wyden. OSU’s Forestry School dean excoriated the study in email messages to his industrial clients, which went viral (to OSU’s embarrassment) after a state senator made the email records public. U.S. House Republicans held a field hearing in southern Oregon in which they tried to embarrass Donato, but ended up with egg on their own face. A former SW Washington congressman tried to deconstruct Donato’s statistical analysis and demonstrated only why he is now retired from Congress.

      All in all, like most such things, the multiple censorship and character attacks back-fired politically as Donato and his colleagues responded professionally and competently at every turn.

      • I would interpret this as ” AAAS used the study in an attempt to promote a policy agenda” and the folks at OSU Forestry were not ready for such politicization.

        That’s probably the real “lessons learned” story that needs to be told. It would be interesting what, if anything, the OSU folks would have done differently.

        I think that they are all good folks (the OSU ones, don’t know about the Congressional ones) but going political tends to maximize heat and minimize light, in my experience.

        • I don’t think that some at OSU were “good folks”, they could easily have talked to the authors about any details before spreading blatant falsehoods about the study design. As I showed in excerpts from their letter to Science, they said completely false things about it, they in a word knew little about what they were talking about. Continuing to say that the study area was only in one sector was wrong. Period. Why did they keep repeating this??
          It got much worse after that with other falsehoods about them moving the transects. A FS ecologist Tom Sensinig worked on the study, did they think to even ask him??

          The authors had given several presentations about the study at OSU. BTW, two of the authors, Bev Law and Boone Kauffman are far more respected scientists than most of the OSU signers to the letter. Boone is USFS scientist and Bev is a highly respected scientist with a stellar publications record.

          I had to wonder how many of those vehement 9 signers had even read the study.

          So who has the political problem here?

          if they had kept sane and civil, the thing would have blown over but the attempt to suppress it vaulted it into the national press.

        • Sharon says “the folks at OSU Forestry were not ready for such politicization” In my mind, it’s more accurate to say they are not used losing control of the message. The old myth of salvage logging as a improvement of forests and a service humanity is still being perpetuated.

          After the Biscuit fire, the FS initially looked at a modest salvage project on matrix lands, but not in Late Successional Reserves or roadless areas. Then OSU’s John Sessions “politicized” the issue and said there were 2 billion board feet of timber going to waste and available for logging, so the Bush administration pushed the FS to log in reserves and roadless areas. It seems pretty unfair to talk about Donato’s peer-reviewed study as political, without mentioning Sessions’ manipulative grey literature.

          How long will it take to fully unlearn the old views:
          “Snags, the grim skeletons of once flourishing forest giants, are the outlaws of the logged over lands of the Northwest. They stand, fringing the skyline like the teeth of a broken comb, in mute defiance of wind and decay, the dregs of the former forest, useless to civilization and a menace to life of man and forest. … Snags deserve outlawry, yet they continue to practice murder and incendiarism on millions of acres of fertile Douglas fir lands. … Some operators refuse to compromise with them at all and say “thumbs down” to every snag over 12 feet high. Uncle Sam on National Forest timber sales demands falling all over 15 feet high and 12 inches in diameter …. The day will come when snags are banished altogether from Douglas fir logged-off land. They will be considered a public nuisance and all felled everywhere in logging as a matter of course. It has even been suggested that they be legislated out of existence by making it obligatory to fall all dead trees ….
          Munger & Drake. 1926. Snags. The Timberman. Portland, Oregon. December 1926. The legacy of this mindset is still being felt in the forests of the Pacific northwest. After 1926, foresters just became more efficient at removing snags. The war on snags continues to this day only slightly mitigated by ecological thinking.

          • Blanket policies, like wanting to end salvage and green timber sales, are doomed to fail. I prefer to let site-specific science to guide us, instead of politics and emotion. Yes, we have evolved more than you think, since the last millennium, Tree.

  7. Erroneous details about the study kept being repeated such as they deliberately biased their plots and did all of their work in one small sale area when they actually covered 4 of the major plant associations etc. They had given several public talks, including one in OSU forest science where they explained their study in detail, How someone could keep repeating blatantly false things about their study design was beyond me.

    A key aspect pushing the initial salvage proposal was the stated need for funds for reforestation, The Donato work showed that the area was reforesting quite well on its own, much better than even I expected, and salvage actually destroyed some of that regen..

    ( In truth, I expect that their more recent data will show little or no longer term difference between the treatments.)

    The study was open to interpretation but accusations of scientific misconduct were hardly accurate. It was character assassination, What else is new?

    The Biscuit thing was already so politicized that at the time Donato was published in Jan 2006, it was after almost all the LSR salvage units had been completed. Hardly time to discuss things so late in the game.

    • What I got from that was that tractors crush seedlings but even so there were way more than you need to reforest. I hadn’t worked in the area, but I didn’t find those results very surprising.

      I read the Biscuit purpose and need and it said to provide economic returns from salvage logging, I recall.

      Once I tried to figure out how often Science published articles about our topics. It seemed to be very infrequent and were not whole papers, but mini- papers and op-eds with timing associated with policy issues in the Pacific Northwest. Might be interesting for a graduate student to study in more detail.

      • Remember, that falling snags also crush seedlings, too. The sheer number of snags would wipe out a similar number of seedlings, as they fall on their own. One of the other purposes for the salvage projects was to get some woody material on the ground, to help mitigate erosion. Yes, I saw tiny sticks, holding back amazing amounts of soil. The cumulative effects of millions of sticks all holding back soil cannot be ignored. Every decision is a compromise, with benefits and impacts. Was salvage on just 4% of the 500,000 acres all that ecologically impactful? Did we have major landslides and erosion from harvesting? Within the context of the entire Biscuit Fire area, was salvage’s damages really “significant”, when taken with the benefits of “snag thinning”?

  8. Here is the letter I sent to Science and the NW congressional delegation.

    An independent Biscuit researcher’s views on
    the Donato Science study of Biscuit post-fire salvage logging
    Greg Nagle (Ph.D.[1])

    As an independent researcher who has spent much time monitoring Biscuit post-fire salvage logging I offer these observations about the Donato study recently published in Science[2]. Since January 2003 I have spent 85 days doing field work in the Biscuit fire. Between November 2004 and October 2005 I did a field examination of 90 Biscuit post-fire salvage logging units encompassing about 60% of the total Biscuit sale area of 3658 acres[3], including all the areas studied by Donato.

    Donato has come under severe, and as I will document, in some cases unsupportable criticism. For example, the letter to the editor of Science from OSU Professor John Sessions, signed by eight other OSU and USFS scientists misrepresents some facts about the study design and aspects of the study area. Specific details of the Donato study were formally presented at a two hour public seminar and open discussion on January 18, 2006 in the OSU College of Forest Resources.

    The Donato study documented 767 naturally regenerated conifer seedlings per hectare (310 trees /acre) , 70% of these Douglas fir. This simple but very timely study compared regeneration and fuel levels in five sites with plots on unburned, salvaged and unsalvaged ground in four widely dispersed sale areas. Salvage logging significantly reduced conifer seedling numbers by 71% and also increased fine and coarse woody fuel levels (before logging debris was burned). The five large study plots in the four widely dispersed study areas were each set up as four transects reaching out from a central point like the spokes of a wheel. Each of these transects was 75 meters long and one meter wide with the four transects encompassing a total of 300 square meters. This is quite a large area for a single plot and with the length of the transects, many soil microsites within the plots were sampled.

    Below are portions of the text (in italics) of the letter[4] sent by the nine signers of the editor of Science with my responses to these comments.

    The inferences drawn by the authors far exceeded their experimental design.
    The nature of sampling in any research design defines the limits of statistical
    inference. The authors’ statistical design encompasses a very narrow range of
    field conditions.

    The authors conclude that forest regeneration is not in crisis across all burned
    landscapes, but, in fact, the authors sampled two small areas near the east perimeter of the Biscuit area totaling less than one-half of one percent of the burned area. There are over two dozen plant associations within the Biscuit area. The sampling design does not capture variability across the Biscuit, nor did it identify the plant associations in the study.

    The statistical design is far from narrow, on the contrary, the four widely dispersed study areas span a range of climatic zones, super plant association groups and soil parent materials characteristic of the Biscuit salvage units. There were four study areas, not two, each covering large plot areas, and they are not limited to the east perimeter but include one in the east, one in the north central portion and two in the northwest sector three miles apart at different elevations and in different super plant association groups and soil parent materials.

    Donato study plot areas with super plant associations and soil parent materials
    (data taken from Map II-7: Super plant association groups and Map C-2: Soils parent material in the Biscuit Final EIS)

    Sale areas studied *

    Soil parent materials
    in sale areas
    Principal super plant associations in sale areas
    coarsely crystaline sedimentary

    White fir dry
    Douglas fir dry
    (north central)
    coarsely crystaline igneous
    White fir dry


    Douglas fir dry
    metasiltstone/mudstone and
    coarsely crystaline igneous
    Tanoak moist
    *Except for the Briggs 3 unit, I do not know the exact salvage units in each study area that were surveyed by Donato.

    Further, much of the geology within the Biscuit Burn consists of ultramafic, plutonic parent rocks. Such parent materials give rise to soils with extremely unusual properties known well to ecologists and soil scientists. While we understand from discussions with the authors that this geology was not sampled, the question will most certainly be raised by careful readers of the article.

    Based on the rough map in the Biscuit Final EIS depicting soil parent materials, out of the 220 logging units in Biscuit, I estimate that only 8 units were located on such ultramafic soils which are usually not considered for commercial timber production. While ultramafic soils are common in the general area, they are tangential to this study[5].

    The explicit point of the Donato study was to look at the impacts of the logging, not perform a wide scale sampling of conifer regeneration across all soils and forest types. The study focused on harvest units, it was not intended to be, nor did they have the resources to place many more plots encompassing the entire 500,000 acre burn area. There are other recent data by other researchers on regeneration from a wider area that have not yet been made available. I briefly examined conifer regeneration in two units of the Steed sale area, directly west of Game Lake Peak in the western part of the burn. With numerous green trees immediately adjacent to the salvage units, conifer regeneration appeared even more robust than in the areas studied by Donato.

    In closing, this is a case study, in a specific set of environmental conditions, at a snap shot in time, with a limited set of treatments.

    This was a study of tree regeneration and fuels after salvage logging in a specific context, a technique in keeping with most ecological and forestry surveys. In addition, the full range of actual treatments were studied, not some arbitrarily limited set. The Donato researchers studied three helicopter logged units and two cable logged units, the same proportion of treatments across the acreage of the entire 220 logging units.

    If we were to start rejecting such ecological research as just “snap shots in time”, few studies would ever see publication. From studies such as Donato’s we hope to gain well supported insights on broader scale and longer term conditions, and reduce decision making’s dependence on ignorance and supposition.

    [1] I have a MS/Ph.D. in forest science from the Dept of Natural Resources at Cornell University. After Feb 15, 2006 I can be reached at Cornell University, Dept of Natural Resources, Fernow Hall, Ithaca NY 14853. email: [email protected].

    [2] Donato, D.C. J.B..Fontaine, J.L. Campbell, W.D. Robinson, J.B. Kauffman, B.E. Law.
    2006. Post-wildfire logging hinders regeneration and increases fuel risk. janaury 2006/Page 1/10.1126/science.1122855.

    [3] These included the Flattop, Briggs/Cedar, Indie, and Horse matrix sales ; and Late Successional Reserve ( LSR) sales in the Steed, Berry, McGuire, and Fiddler areas. I can send an email file with my report if contacted at [email protected]

    [4] Letter to John Sessions and seven other authors to the editor of Science 1/17/06. Concerns About
    SCIENCE, January 2006: Post Wildfire Logging Hinders Regeneration and Increases Fire Risk
    by Donato et al.

    [5] Of these 8 units in ultramafic soils, 3 were in the Cedar sale area on the far eastern edge of the burn with numerous green trees near the sale units where I expect that conifer regeneration was also robust after the last two years with good rainfall.

    • So I am a simple retiree who let my subscription to Science lapse..can’t look up the study..

      So all I can go by is your statement:

      Salvage logging significantly reduced conifer seedling numbers by 71% and also increased fine and coarse woody fuel levels (before logging debris was burned)

      if I were framing the issue, I would say.. the Biscuit EIS says that it was done for economic value.

      So this information would only be relevant if … there were some unexpected negative impacts of salvage logging we didn’t know about.

      But I think we can all imagine that dragging logs across areas would squish seedlings. However the question would be, “are there still enough to reforest?”

      And “won’t more seedlings come in where the dragging exposed bare mineral soil?”

      Similarly, I think we know that cutting limbs off trees and leaving them on site would add to fine and course wood. Before you burn them. That is why you burn them.

      My point is people have been studying reforestation in Oregon since time immemorial. Having worked in Oregon, I remember Fundamental FIR, Dennie Lavender’s work, etc.

      None of these studies have ever been published in Science.. they are too practical for the kind of topics Science normally covers. However this one was…why? One might ask. Why that article; why at that time?

      Also, there is nothing particularly surprising about the findings nor do they seem relevant to the stated purpose and need of Biscuit. Why did none of the reviewers notice this?

      I guess the good part of this story for me is that if this happened today, we could have this discussion and review openly on this blog,

      • Oh.. I thought we had discussed this before on this blog, but I finally found it in an Alaska Roadless thread..

        Here were some quotes from Scott Conroy..

        In court, there was testimony that the sales were located in Wilderness (which would have been illegal); that we didn’t retain enough snags for wildlife (have you seen the millions of snags still present throughout the Biscuit fire area?); and that our goal of salvage logging to assist with reforestation was proven unnecessary by research findings.

        That last claim was made again and again. Opponents frequently misrepresented our intentions for salvage logging as though we believed logging was necessary for forest recovery. My decision to salvage log was to realize both the potential jobs for local communities and the economic return to the Federal government. I also knew these sales would be implemented with rigorous environmental protections and generate funds for recovery efforts.

      • I can send you the donato science pub if you can;t resist it.

        You were not around when OSU issued its study funded by Douglas County and authored by John Sessions which contended that lots of funds were needed for reforestation.

        If Donato was published in Science, I assume it was due to Franklin’s influence in countering the OSU perspective on salvage although I do not see that he opposes all salvage.

        Donato does seem like a fairly mundane study although competently completed.

        I think the point Franklin hoped to push was that there was little or no benefit from salvage. Others may disagree.

        BTW, a later study of numerous burns in the Klamath Siskiyou bu OSU’s Jeff Safford also found ample regen over decades after fires, much more than I expected to find.

        If you think that the publication of Donato was political, was it not also blatantly political that the FS initially proposed a very small salvage program and the supervisor got pulled back to Washington by the administration to redo it completely with an immense salvage proposal, it was ridiculous, the timber was not there period. Estimates were based on very bad remote sensing with little or no ground truthing for the EIS. When they finally did that they found much less timber available than expected.

        I know the lead EIS guy quite well and he will tell us the same, That is rich fairbanks.

        • Yes, please do..

          It’s interesting that you say that about Franklin. I have a great deal of respect for Jerry and his work, and I noted that the few pieces in forestry published in Science were op-ed like pieces also by Jerry.

          So I am going to make a very important point now…
          I think it’s OK for politicians to be political, even when they are wrong (I have been involved in things I don’t agree with, on both sides). I will argue up and down against policies I disagree with (here and elsewhere) but they have the right to do dumb things at the end of the day. And listen to their buddies, and placate silly voters.

          I think it is highly questionable for AAAS to slip in its political views under the guise of “science.” AAAS is not an elected group.. and is therefore not accountable in the same way that an administration is.

          Hope that this is clear.. if the AAAS editorial board had written an op-ed saying something like…”we think salvage logging in SW Oregon is bad,” that would have been more direct.

          But then people might legitimately wonder why no op-eds on genetically engineered mosquitoes, novel life forms, nanotechnology, etc. environmental impacts.

          And someone might say to AAAS “remove the log in your own eye, before you look for a splinter in your brother’s. (Couldn’t resist the log analogy)

          • Science is often political but often not obviously so. I have no real problem with political science if it is solid. In the long run the Donato work held up under scrutiny. Political or not, if your data is solid, opinions matter rather little. That is good science.

            So on what planet do you expect to find these polite non political scientific discussions? On anything that really matters?

            The salvage issue had been “political” for decades, no way to avoid that and such salvage was seen as a way to keep the cut up . My take on it though was over time it got a lot better in how they did it compared to the early 90s.

            But salvage had moved even more into the political sphere with the administration pressuring the FS to do a lot more than they wanted.

            I will say in passing that all the anti salvage stuff that Bob Beschta authored was solid, I looked at all his citations and he did a good job. Some of the other anti salvage screeds were pretty poor, bad enough I thought some should have been withdrawn.

            The point is that a close look at the lit by the OSU crowd would have revealed some deep flaws but they did not choose to do the actually scholarly work to check it.

            Pretty poor scientists in my opinion whose words got ahead of themselves.

            • Yes, well many of us think that for scientific information to be trusted we should be careful and open about it, as in my Eight Steps here.

              It seems to me that if OSU had followed my eight steps before putting the pub in Science, all the drama would have been internal. Note: you only need to do this if you claim that your study is policy relevant. Which they did, except they got the policy question wrong.

              The view that postfire (salvage) logging diminishes fire risk via fuel reduction and that forests will not adequately regenerate without intervention, including logging and planting, is widely held and commonly cited (2). An alternate view maintains that postfire logging is detrimental to long-term forest development, wildlife habitat, and other ecosystem functions (1). Scientific data directly informing this debate are lacking.

              The Biscuit EIS said their purpose and need was economic so… why is this relevant, again? Note that cite 2 is a Sessions paper.. so could some internal OSU conflict resolution kept this out of Science? How often do disagreements with Journal of Forestry papers show up in Science?

              But I had forgotten how much this paper cracks me up. Thanks Greg! Here’s one of my favorite parts:

              Postfire logging significantly increased both fine and coarse downed woody fuel loads (Fig. 1B). This wood was composed of unmerchantable material (e.g., branches), and far exceeded expectations for fuel loads generated by postfire logging (4, 5). In terms of short-term fire risk, a reburn in logged stands
              would likely exhibit elevated rates of fire spread, fireline intensity, and soil heating impacts (6).

              Postfire logging alone was notably incongruent with fuel reduction goals. Fuel reduction treatments (prescribed burning or mechanical removal) are frequently intended after postfire logging, including in the Biscuit plan, but resources to complete them are often limited (7). Our study underscores that, after logging, the mitigation of short-term fire risk is not possible without subsequent fuel reduction treatments. However, implementing these treatments is also problematic. Mechanical removal is generally precluded by its expense, leaving prescribed burning as the most feasible method. This will result in additional seedling mortality and potentially severe soil impacts caused by long-duration combustion of logging-generated fuel loads. Therefore, the lowest fire risk strategy may be to leave dead trees standing as long as possible (where they are less available to surface flames), allowing for aerial decay and slow, episodic input to surface fuel loads over decades.

              This is a string of assertions … that basically says ” if you do fuel reduction without burning or removing fuels, it doesn’t reduce fuels.” Oh, and if you burn them in piles, (or broadcast? not mentioned) it might have worse impact to the soil, than the whole trees burning (with all the same fuels still on them. plus boles) after they fall over..??? Note a lack of citations for this particular assertion string.

              I wonder if I could publish in Science a short paper that says if you to bring a truckload of 1-0 bareroot seedlings to a site and drop them in a pile, they probably won’t grow ;).

              Below are the references..really..

              You’ll notice that the first one.. is by these Science’s “policy forum”. Again, I couldn’t get it without a subscription. But when a “research paper” cites op-eds.. it’s a science “situation that shouts “watch out!””

              Policy Forum

              Salvage Harvesting Policies After Natural Disturbance

              D. B. Lindenmayer1,
              D. R. Foster2,
              J. F. Franklin3,
              M. L. Hunter4,
              R. F. Noss5,
              F. A. Schmiegelow6,
              D. Perry[HN11]*

              References and Notes
              1. D. B. Lindenmayer et al., Science 303, 1303 (2004).
              2. J. Sessions, P. Bettinger, R. Buckman, M. Newton,
              J. Hamann, J. For. 102, 38 (2004).
              3. S. D. Tesch, S. D. Hobbs, West. J. Appl. For. 4, 89 (1989).
              4. Materials and methods are available as supporting
              material on Science Online.
              5. Timber decay associated with delays in postfire logging
              was anticipated to exacerbate the observed pulse of
              surface fuel. However, our data indicate that delay was
              responsible for È10% of the woody fuel present after
              6. J. K. Agee, Fire Ecology of Pacific Northwest Forests
              (Island Press, Washington, DC, 1993).
              7. R. W. Gorte, ‘‘Forest Fires and Forest Health’’ Congressional
              Research Service (Publication 95-511, 1996).
              8. This work was supported by the Joint Fire Science Program
              and DOE grant DE-FG02-04ER63917. We thank field
              technicians and the Siskiyou National Forest.

              I have to say that while I didn’t go to OSU, my major professor moved there and was still my major professor when I received my Ph.D., and this wouldn’t have been acceptable work in that era.

              • If one intent of the salvage was to reduce fuels, it sure was not accomplished in most places, Very little of the Biscuit units had slash burned. I have no idea what a fuels person would think of that and indeed, if they had been broadcast burned, there would have been much more seedling mortality. I have no background in fuels management so I cannot judge the fuel loads on those units. I know that the Briggs 3 unit they surveyed probably had the highest fuels of any of the 200 biscuit units and it was not burned. Other units had rather little slash since so many uncut trees were left behind and fuels were minimal . High fuel loads on Briggs 3 was likely due to large amount of fuel left behind in small pines.

  9. Dear reader, the timeless tome above may be difficult to read and grasp since the italics did not make it through. Like a sour old marriage, I keep cycling back to the Biscuit travails. I caught it from both sides in this battle but came out with a nice rep for honesty and ability to antagonize anybody from any side of the spectrum. Academic life seemed so dull in comparison.

    actually, all the Donato surveyed units were copter or cable logged, some with minimal ground disturbance so it baffled me and them how the regen was destroyed. Overall the copter logging looked good to me, minimal impacts with large numbers of leave trees on many units in addition to the riparian buffers. 2’3 of the surveyed units were copter, if they had done tractor units they would have found much worse impacts. But I recall that there was almost no tractor logging on biscuit.

    Prior to Biscuit there was a widely publicized OSU report contending that funds for reforestation were necessary, a view I was sympathetic to. That was the major point made by OSU’s John Sessions.

    The reason why Franklin pushed the Donato publication was to counter the rap on need for regen funds.

    The donato results sure surprised me but were supported by another OSU study on fire regen in the klamath Siskiyou a few years later.

  10. Was regen “hindered” so much that cutting units were understocked, by Agency standards? How much regen would be killed by snags falling on it? How would unsalvaged forests and soils survive inevitable re-burns, with ample fuels close to the ground and surrounded by new flashy fuels? Could the regen also be affected by soils damage, due to high-intensity fire? Yes, I worked in units where 99% of the old growth was killed. BTW, I was part of the snag marking efforts on the Biscuit. We were almost fanatical about spreading the full amount of required snags around each unit. We even photo-documented some of the large snags we marked in the LSR’s. We were impeccable in following the rules, knowing there would be outside oversight.

    • Larry — Thanks for your diligence marking snags at Biscuit. It was a tortuous path that led to your wood’s work, as the original Forest Service contract called for the timber purchaser to select snags to be left. When I noted that provision in the contract, we brought suit because NFMA requires that FS employees select trees for harvest. We won. There were then some implementation hurdles, which the FS overcame after continued prodding in court.

    • Larry, Again with the misplaced concerns over reburn. You raise a concern about “ample fuels close to the ground and surrounded by new flashy fuels” in unsalvaged fire areas, but that is a more accurate description of logging slash and dense reprod after salvage logging and replanting.

      An unsalvaged forest delivers fuels to the forest slowly over time and has more patchy and less continuous fuels. The evidence showed the the salvage portions of the Silver fire reburned less severely during the Biscuit fire compared to the portion of the Silver fire that were not salvaged.

      • Ummmm, major parts of the Biscuit were re-burned from the Silver Fire, which burned in 1987 and went partly unsalvaged. I am sure Bob Z. has some more specific information. I have worked on projects, and have shown pictures of them here, where fuels reductions are the main driver. Yes, we even flew out what used to stay in the woods. We KNOW fire will return, and we seek to reduce its impacts.

        Of course, other forests may vary, not applicable in all 50 States, void where prohibited.

        • Oddly enough, the burn severity maps for Biscuit pretty well matched those for Silver fire, why I am not quite sure, Given that I was skeptical of Thompson and Spies work showing higher severity on reburn of silver salvage units. Of course the salvage areas were higher mortality patches anyway,

      • Tree you meant to say that the silver salvage reburned with higher severity than non salvage portions. Yes, that is surely the case, documented by Thompson and Spies in their paper. ( Spies is USFS PNW Station.)

        Why that is I am not sure, not as if the conifers were that much heavier in the salvage areas and rather little slash, I never heard a good explanation but yes, the remote sensing did show the difference, contrary to what some salvage proponents wanted to believe.

        I am not opposed to all salvage but I see little reason to do it in many places,

  11. Donato et al resurveyed those same transects last summer or summer 2011 before, I have not talked with them about what they found but my assumption is that in the longer term all those salvage units regenerated fine. ( I have been in africa for a year and out of touch.)

    The LSR units were also planted on a 17×17 spacing which would give them about 75-100 tpa in the end if I recall correctly, I think that planting was hardly necessary but it was nothing like the kind of plantations I worked on. ( I was a tree planter for 8 years across the West.)

    I need to shake donato’s tree and find out what the resurvey showed them. Tom Sensinig , ecologist with the Rogue Siskiyou can probably also tell us. I do not know if it is published yet.

    I do not know how regen did overall on high severity burn sites, but much of those salvage units with complete mortality were on such soils. Almost all salvage units were in the hottest burn areas, there was little green stuff left up there so no real issue with cutting not quite dead trees. Those burns still did pretty well with regn , but Bernard Bormann with USFS PNW station will have much more to say about soils and regen, Although 44% of Biscuit was high mortality for canopy, only 15% was high severity for soils. Not a surprise really,

    Yes, the snags on Biscuit looked pretty good to me too, a nice job and on Fiddler I give the FS a solid 96% for riparian buffers, heck in some places they were too big. I trailed one of the markers all the way to the top of Fiddler 17 unit which topped out way up on the ridge and under snow so this dude took no chances and took the buffers on the class 4 ephemeral channel all the way to the top>

    I came back down , found him and told him, nice job but let’s make a truce, no need to do it quite like that. They meant to do a good job and I was extremely ticked off when some of the opponents accused the feds of shoddy work. I told them I could not abide character assassination and casual slander directed at public employees and quit.

    I worked for Jim Sedell for 3 years as a post doc at USFS PNW station and don;t like to listen when no accounts get their ya yas by trashing the feds.

  12. Well Andy ( cough cough…) the FS had also proposed greatly shrinking those riparian buffers before your able lawyers put the scare on them. And as you note, it was also proposed that the logging contractor mark the snags and buffers (What?? This was just a joke??) and you stopped that too. Thanks for that.

    They had so many people chewing at them as well as a few maniacs that the scrutiny made it a decent show in the end.

    I tried to interest some of the Donato people and others to pull together a workshop about Biscuit – 10 years later, what have we learned? But the whole thing felt like such a misery to so many that getting them all in the same room was going to be hard.

    Fool that I am, I just figure we can throw a party and talk, why not?

    But I am headed back to Africa soon so this is someone else’s baby.

  13. Hey andy, as long as we are dealing with such simple issues, maybe you can kick off a discussion of Defazio’s O and C bill which you know a lot more about than me. I have been curious about your take on it. I am sympathetic to raising the BLM cut but unsure how to do this in an eco way. Plantation thinning is fine with me but beyond that I am not sure (?). I have talked to the usual circle of enviro activists but hope to hear from you now on another thread if you are willing to step into another contentious issue. Please.

    • Greg: I attended Donato’s “two hour” presentation of his methods and findings at OSU and was unimpressed with the rigor of his work and his knowledge of reforestation. A pointed question on my part was met with scowls from Franklin and Johnson, and Norm interceded after I made my point — that Donato had essentially done a low-grade stocking survey and didn’t even have a handle on the age or species of the seedlings he was counting. Among other problems. Norm answered for Donato, but mostly with sound waves (“blather”) and veiled hostility — and moved the discussion “forward” without specifically discussing my reservations. My background is in reforestation, and Donato was out of his league. Norm, too, for that matter.

      Your advice to contact Tom Sensenig is excellent. I think he could provide some very telling insights as to the work quality and “peer review’ process that preceded the abrupt press release from Donato, et al. The whole thing was stealth political maneuver (read the press release) that was carried out without even informing the lead scientist — Sensenig!

      Fairbanks and DellaSala put the “N” in Normative Science, so their thoughts were a forgone conclusion. Same with Beschta, who has lately gotten some heat from OSU for releasing his opinions under the guise of “research.” I think he now has to go through the Dean before sending out a press release or anything else under the OSU banner, as a result. He is a hydrologist — not a forester or wildlife biologist — and, like, Franklin (old-growth ecology) and Johnson (politics and economics), seems to have a very poor grasp on active forest management, forest history, fire history, and reforestation. That doesn’t seem to stop any of them from confusing their own opinions with the “Best Available Science,” however.

      I personally don’t trust Sessions modeling outcomes, either, but Atzet, Buckman and Newton are first class scientists who stated legitimate concerns, even though their work was hidden by Sessions taking the lead. I also attended the political hearings at Salem after the Dean had been neutralized and once again witnessed Bev Law ( a former classmate) sit in the audience stone-faced and silent even when being directly addressed by a lawmaker. She was Donato’s “major professor” and essentially did the same thing during the OSU presentation. I sat next to (and talked with) Donato and his “wildlife biologist” cohort during the hearing, mostly by accident. That was the first time I had ever had a personal conversation with either one. The Dean was mortified and defensive, under the guise of being self-assured and defensive — maybe we can post a copy of the Law letter or a syllabus from Johnson’s subsequent class on the topic if there is enough interest here. Very telling stuff.

      In my view and experience, the whole thing looked and smelled (and was thought to be by many, many people) political from Day One. I don’t think Donato’s original work can even be followed up, given its design and assertions, much less by Donato himself, who somehow got a PhD for this Master’s project.

      You are right about Sessions’ work being political — but I am also right about Donato’s work being substandard, inconclusive, and 100% political from the original press release — which I had to forward to Sensenig, Atzet, Newton and Buckman because none of them were even aware it had gone online and distributed worldwide following a (rumored, but likely) single 45-minute “review” by Franklin as the sum total of “peer review” minutes before the press release went out).

      Thanks for asking for opposing viewpoints — it’s one of the real strengths of this blog.

      • Donato et al have followed up on the initial survey, easy enough to do with the permanent transects. Boone kauffman, a plant ecologist was also on the paper and he knows veg sampling. He was in Hawaii with the USFS when this all hit the fan in early 2006. I have no doubts about his capabilities.

        Seedlings were all new regen but tiny. Hard as heck to see them for me. I was with donato and he showed me.

        I think Sensinig can tell us what they found in the 2nd survey, probably little difference now between salvage, no salvage areas despite loss of seedlings during logging. But who knows.

        And once again, how those seedlings died is beyond me, the copter units had minimal disturbance. (??).

        • actually this was but a part of Donato’s PhD which involved more than the Biscuit transects. You can check the OSU library for the full thing.

          Yes, it was but a MS project if that was all he had done but it was done well, these are standard veg transects, the Science paper mentioned how many of the seedlings were of different species if I recall correctly.

          He published other papers besides this and remember, he was lead author but he had others such as phd research associate John Campbell on this, it was a joint effort.

          • Greg: Here is Donato’s dissertation:

            This is his Abstract: Following high-severity fire, forest succession may take alternate pathways depending on the pattern of the fire and any secondary disturbances during early stand development, with lasting consequences for ecosystem function. The objectives of this research were to quantify: (1) early postfire regeneration as influenced by the spatial pattern of a landscape-scale wildfire, and (2) the influence of secondary disturbances during early succession, specifically recurrent high-severity fire and postfire logging. Four years after the 200,000-hectare Biscuit Fire, patch-scale conifer seedling density was 80% Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and ranged from 127-6494 stems/ha. Median density (1603 stems/ha) was ~12 times the prefire overstory density of 134 stems/ha. Due to the mixed-severity fire mosaic, ~58% of high-severity area was ≤ 200 m from patches of live trees, and ~81% was ≤ 400 m. Median conifer density exceeded 1000 stems/ha out to 400 m distance before declining rapidly at larger distances. Following a short-interval (15-year) repeat fire, vegetation communities contained nearly all species found in mature/old-growth stands and after a single fire, indicating high community persistence through two severe fires. The short-interval burn had the highest species richness and plant cover with additions of disturbance-adapted forbs and low shrubs, likely associated with a propagule bank that developed between fires. Sprouting capacity of hardwoods and shrubs was unaltered by recurrent fire, and conifer regeneration density (median 1495 stems/ha) was similar to single burn stands. Three to four years after fire, high-intensity postfire logging resulted in a greater proportion (28%) of felled biomass left on site as slash compared to moderate-intensity logging (14%), because tree felling was less selective. However, despite bole removal and slash generation, there was no significant difference in surface woody fuels among logged and unlogged treatments at 17-18 years after fire. Fuel profiles and fire modeling both suggested that regenerating vegetation rather than residual dead wood is the main driver of early seral fire hazard, with low fire potentials 3-4 years postfire and very high potentials at 17-18 years. Postfire logging increased fire potentials within this context due to generation of slash, with differences fading in ~15-20 years. The results from this research underscore the importance of the mixed-severity context in which stand-replacing fire often occurs, both for providing seed sources within a fire and for highly variable disturbances that interact with succession and plant adaptation.

            NOTE: in 1999 I turned in what I believe the be the first digitized thesis at OSU (a PDF file), and had to get special permission for doing so — and also get special permission to even use color photos or maps. Everything was formatted for specific purposes of duplicating with microfilm, which is clunky with no color and rigid specs, and I still had to produce hardbound copies for my committee and the school library (color was expensive). Now, just a few years later, OSU requires digital theses and dissertations, and no longer requires hardbound versions or even stocks them on their shelves! All to the good, except for the thousands of pages and years of drafts and final copies exactly formatted to way-outdated microfilm standards, both by myself and tens of thousands of other grad students.

        • Greg: Boone was one of my instructors at OSU and is an expert in tropical vegetation. I’m not so sure about his sampling capabilities, or his understanding of conifer forests. Donato got a USFS position studying mangroves in the islands following his graduation, so that was good. Not sure if it was politics, but USFS had strict “diversity” employment standards in place at the time and he seemed to get the lottery ticket for his class.

          Not sure about the seedling mortality, either, but 99+% of natural seeding dies normally anyway, with or w/o helicopters. Mostly, they are eaten, sun or wind scalded, shaded out, or out-competed by their cohorts. The seed source (including species) is the main problem with most “naturally regenerated” areas, but numbers of seedlings and local shrub and animal populations are also factors.

      • Offhand examples: Mark and sell poles and other high-grades ahead of bulk sale. Sell when market is high, not when industry isn’t cutting because market is low. Smaller scale timber sales so more local outfits can bid. Certify under FSC to raise dollars per bdft harvested. Make reciprocal access agreements in the checkerboard more symmetrical. Act more like a skilled small woodlot owner, instead of a hamstrung subsidized Weyerhauser.

        • Kevin, it sounds like you have many creative ideas.. why don’t you do a blog post that outlines some of your ideas? This thread is kind of mixed right now. Send to [email protected]. A photo of something/someone is also nice.

  14. How in the heck would USFS diversity policies have influenced Donato’s hire by the USFS. I was also a USFS postdoc, mostly deaf since age 15 and I assure you, my disability had nothing to do with my hire, Suggesting that donato got a job due to some vague diversity thing is insulting and I think I will drop off this group for good.

    Exactly what diversity thing might that be for a white male like Donato? or ME?

    He was hired I am sure since boone wanted him,

    Bob, your posts tend to be personally insulting. Enough of that, one scrap more of this and I am GONE. You can keep this site going without me, I don;t need it and I think you owe a few people an apology bob.

    If you do not post this sharon, this is goodbye. Keep a lid on it.

    • Greg: I didn’t say Donato was a diversity hire — just the opposite. Why is this such a sore point with you? I’ve made the same point (many times) regarding the lack of racial and sexual diversity in earlier USFS eras. I’m a white male, too, Greg, and if you think the same percentage of USFS hires (or OSU forestry grads) were white males in the past 10-20 years as in the 1960s or 1970s, then you are wrong. I like diversity. I also recognize plum jobs and political paybacks when I see them. Sometimes I’m wrong.

      What, exactly, should I apologize for? And to who? Probably Matt or Tree would have to be near the top of the list — Donato is a long ways down. Plus, these are things I’ve said to him (and to the others I’ve listed) and in print many, many times.

      Seems like you’re looking for an excuse, and chosen me. I thought you wanted (and even asked for) differing opinions? Maybe not.

      • I thought you said he was a diversity hire, but on a 2nd reading, i can see you meant the opposite. My bad. I owe you an apology for that.

        At any rate, you slide into insults too easily, not to me, but too often what you say about others. If “we”want to be taken seriously, we need to keep personalities out this and focus on “the data”, not the people who we may not like for our respective reasons. I do this way too much myself, a weakness when I owe much better than that.

        In a good professional environment, we keep the personal out of it and try to deal with what people have to offer without regard to how much we may really dislike them. You go personal way too much, but that has been said about me too.

        • Thanks, Greg: I appreciate the reconsideration! Regarding “insults,” you’re probably right — although I don’t think I’ve been insulting (most) people so much as I have focused on their work. You don’t agree with me on some of my assessments, and that’s why Gore invented blogging — so we could identify those differences and use them as a basis for further discussion.

          I’m not sure this (or most) blog(s) are “good professional environments,” however. My personal peeve is when people using pseudonyms use their anonymity to attack others — or to assume a mantle of scientific or management ability or authority that probably doesn’t exist in real life. A lot of times there is good reason for anonymity (current USFS employees, as one example, on this blog), but that is no excuse for attacking others or presuming undeserved expertise.

          Conversations on blogs sometimes get heated, sometimes involve personal attacks, and often include nameless people who exploit their anonymity. Maybe those are the bad parts. Look at all of the names, references, and other information you and I have shared on this discussion as one example — and all other readers are privy to all the same thoughts, links, and papers as we’ve exchanged. Those are the good parts, in my estimation.

          It’s probably a baby and bathwater thing, but despite growing pains, a changing technology, trolls, and occasional hurt feelings, I think a lot more good comes out of these things than the personal discomfort or ill will that is the price being paid for it (grammar check?).

  15. The thing i hated most about working with the enviros on Biscuit was how darn mean too many got about the feds, some of them, the less capable ones or ones who need an adversary to give them meaning. Others kept a sane outlook but I heard so many half truths out there that it soured me on working with them for life.

    You can be a battler without getting mean about it, I found it extremely distressing and deeply saddening to watch people slide into that so easily. Hate talk takes on its own momentum and once it starts it always needs a target. What else is new?

    I felt like i was watching a mob and left. I told many people that on my watch, I wasn;t allowing it. For this I got a hate campaign until some sober types told them to can it.

    And plenty of that same kind of hate talk revolved around Donato from some at OSU, it was incredible to read the half truths coming from that side. And those were Ph.Ds. At Cornell they would not have been allowed in the room.

  16. Greg- not to get all taxonomic about forms of slander, here is how I look at it:

    These were all good people who got crosswise with each other. I have worked with many of them and a person’s character is broader than actions in a particular instance. I would be interested in analyzing “how did that happen” and “how could it have been handled better?”

    But because I first read the Science paper as a person who had to follow strict rules about my scientific work from professors at Oregon State, my first observation was “who is in charge of QA/QC at OSU?” Once you start there, it’s hard to agree with the “Noble Martyr” narrative, even though that’s the way the story is told in some circles.

    You said

    “I don’t think that some at OSU were “good folks”, they could easily have talked to the authors about any details before spreading blatant falsehoods about the study design.”

    If what Bob says is true:

    original press release — which I had to forward to Sensenig, Atzet, Newton and Buckman because none of them were even aware it had gone online and distributed worldwide following a (rumored, but likely) single 45-minute “review” by Franklin as the sum total of “peer review” minutes before the press release went out).

    It sounds like the usual kinds of reviews were not done. So it seems like there is plenty of questionable behavior to go around. But to me, questionable behavior and inaccurate and misleading knowledge claims can be made by “good folks.” The real questions are “why?” and “how did that happen?” and “how can we make sure that when we see “scientific” knowledge claims, how can we be sure that they are of adequate quality and relevance to policy?”

    • The study was robust, it had a collection of very competent, well published authors in addition to the grad students. I do not know if anyone more than Franklin reviewed it. But it held up over time and Science published the OSU critique and their response to it.

      I had to wonder all the way through this if much other people were reading it all as carefully as I was. Not a common trait these days I suppose.

      For the 9 signers to insist that Science not publish Donato without their counter article looked really bad to the public, it looked like bully behavior and their letter was written too quickly. I assume that some of the signers who were capable scientists did not even look at the study before they attached their names to this effort.

      BTW, in fall 2005 the Donato crew gave a talk on their study at OSU as well as another in southern Oregon. And instead of sticking around to ask questions when Donato gave a complete account at OSU, almost all forest science profs walked out. I was astonished, why not stay and ask a few questions??

      How to interpret their data was open to question and the issues raised in the letter could easily have been resolved by talking to Sensinig and the authors. Later accusations of misconduct were slanderous. Such was the norm at the time.

      But….yes, I do see a political effort on their part and would be surprised if Franklin was the only reviewer. They did have an OSU stats person look at it first. ( Manuela Huso).

      But given the efforts of OSU on behalf of the industry, well documented in Salwassers emails, how can anyone say that the Donato effort was too political when OSU Forest Science was awash in poliitics with a large endowment by a helicopter company??

      Franklin took it on as a club to slam OSU. But he would not have done it if the work was not solid.

      It OSU had ignored it, it might have slid out of sight.

      I thought it was no big deal,

      But, more important now to look at their recent data.

      Questions of how biscuit looks after 10 years are important.

      And in the end, I thought the salvage units looked pretty good, little erosion or ground disturbance, it was as good as we could have hoped for.

      And in the end…ha ha, those buffers did not need to be so big.

      Saying that will get me hung on the other side.


      • You are speaking as if “the study” was robust which is fine. I was making comments about the piece in Science. I think that might be confusing as people might be talking about the broader work or critiquing the “one pager” in Science.

        My comments were strictly about the Science “one pager,” and what the claims were compared to the evidence that they had collected.

        Again, people can and do donate to schools. To me that’s different from people making claims that they say are “science” when there are smatterings of science held together with unsubstantiated knowledge claims. The more I find out about this, the more it sounds like the Biscuit folks (the Forest) were the collateral damage to fundamentally an intra-academic dispute.

        Reminds me of Sayre’s law here..

        The Wall Street Journal quoted Sayre as: “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.”

        But here it seems to have oozed out and embittered people in the real world. Very sad.

          • Yup, Andy, I will do a line by line on that one.. it’s short and will be illustrative, I think. But I have to wait as have the Planning Directives ,,, don’t suppose you could share your organization’s comments?

  17. Wow! Just scrolled through this very long diatribe, and being totally ignorant of those Oregon sites, studies, research, politics, I can only say that there is a lot of overkill here. Seems like a very limited dialogue between three or four knowledgeable individuals. Not sure I learned anything new about USFS issues, other than “politics” has seeped even further into every aspect of forest management, more so than in my “old days” of the 50’s/60’s. Ah, for the old days…get the cut out, get that fire out, put on your green underwear.

  18. When this conflict hit the fan in January 2006, it made the national press. Quite a show with quotes from Science editor and others laughing at OSU with those in the firing line howling back.

    It got even more interesting when there was a congressional hearing with donato duking it out in public with a congressman with a degree in stats. When has there ever been such an exchange?

    The point is that Biscuit and fire policy had become a national issue with the Donato article taking the lead in galvanizing the anti salvage crowd. For better or worse.

    Sharon you may disagree with the study author’s interpretations which are always open to question but the raw data and study design were fine. Those contending otherwise seemed to have little idea of what was done out there.

    After all, the interpretations are often the most readable and interesting part of an article,

    At any rate, I had it in mind to pull together a workshop to mull over these issues but as you can see, feelings are pretty raw.

    As I noted above, Donato has gone on to an illustrious scientific career working on entirely different issues, He was certainly capable. Those who contend otherwise might peruse his lit collection which is enough to turn many green with envy

  19. Back to Rough & Ready Lumber Co. Heard a piece on OPB radio yesterday that was balanced:

    “We could sell every stick we can make, and we’re sitting in a forest that grows a billion board feet a year. For it to not be able to support just one small sawmill in two counties is just senseless in my mind,” Jennifer Phillippi says.

    “If the business model requires the conservation policies of the last 20 years to be rolled back, that’s going to be controversial and it’s going to be hard to keep that mill open,” says Steve Pedery, conservation director for Oregon Wild.


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