Five Big Trees Cut!

From the title of this AP article in The Oregonian today, you’d probably think that a huge swath of old-growth had been leveled and hauled off to mills:

“Federal agency disputes logging old growth trees that support threatened sea bird”

Turns out that the dispute concerns 5 trees in a campground — one of them a snag — that were cut because they posed a hazard to campers.

I wish the AP had been a bit more objective, perhaps by adding statistics about deaths and injuries from hazard trees, and the fact that the USFS regularly removes them. They might have mentioned the woman who was killed earlier this summer in Yosemite:

Or the woman killed in Conn. in May:

13 thoughts on “Five Big Trees Cut!”

  1. These trees were cut because the FS thought its sawyers needed practice cutting big trees.

    If the trees were such a hazard to campers, why weren’t they removed when the campground was built? I’ll bet their tops were just as “dead” then as now.

    Here’s what one looks like on the ground.

  2. According to the article, the USFS says “the removal of hazard trees was the priority and it turned into a training session.”

    Last time I visited the Green Canyons campground on the Mt. Hood NF, I was awed by the size of a huge hazard tree that had been cut — 6 or 7 feet in diameter. I think it was a large branch from that tree that fell on a tent some years ago and killed someone.

    Anyhow, my problem was with the article. AP could have done a better job by adding more information.

    A broader question for the group: Does the USFS go too far in hazard-tree removals in general? Is the gut feeling of a district ranger or other staffer enough, or does the removal of hazard trees require collaboration? Granted, in this one case the agency apparently did not get a required permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  3. Gaia help us! We’ve got our knickers in a knot over fiver (5) trees. No wonder western states want to remove national forest land from federal ownership and return some semblance of sanity to its management.

  4. You want to see “hazard tree” removal? Look at the 100’s of campgrounds that have been clearcut of MPB killed trees in Montana and Colorado. Campin in a clearcut. Far out.

  5. The dismissive comments seem misplaced. When you see the tree (VERY large, and apparently sound, other than the one snag) and the circumstances (wild & scenic river, riparian reserve, marbled murrelet habitat, little used campground) the concerns seem quite justified.

    Maybe there were alternatives could have been considered like removing the dead tops, temporarily closing the campground until the hazard abated, placing warning signs to allow campers to take informed risks.

    • I also don’t understand how five trees can hurt a species. It seems like the agency might be more sensitive to slights than the birds themselves..

  6. I wonder why they didn’t make a timber sale out of it. The FS could of had there training session, received enough money to maybe cover their costs from the stumpage value, and created some economy for the South Coast of Oregon. But of course all they did was spend taxpayers money to waste some more of our natural resources. I imagine those trees will just lay there and rot, and some might say that is good, but how about we remove 3 and the bugs get 2?
    I have been asking the Powers Ranger district for some trees for years now and all they have to offer are 10 million foot thinning sales. That’s what happens when you district ranger lives in Eugene, hundreds of miles away and has absolutely no relationship with or knowledge of the local community.

  7. The real problem here seems to be that a Forest Service line officer 1) failed to follow established procedures (possibly to the point of breaking the law), and 2) chose to not inform the public about a proposed action that involved known public concerns. This kind of behavior (no matter how ‘small’) affects the credibility and trust of the agency as a whole, particularly if there is no disciplinary action taken.

  8. Last summer I cut several pick-up loads of mostly lodgepole pine from a campground in the Cascades, Summit Lake, where I have enjoyed camping and mosquito slapping for years. The USFS cut dozens of dead and dying trees from the campground, and as lodgepole go, these were old trees — 100+ years old. I have no problem with that, although they cut one very large silver fir that had a dead top (and, as it turned out, a rotten bole). I kinda liked that gnarly old tree, which was a few feet from one picnic table, and I don’t think it posed much of a hazard. But the agency cut it. This is the kind of small project for which the agency out to be allowed — expected — to use its judgement.

    • You know, fear of litigation tends to make agencies very careful (over-careful?) about hazards.. that is why some close trails and campgrounds when there is a bear in the area (for example), instead of just placing warnings. That’s not to say that people don’t deserve to be able to litigate if the FS screws up, it’s just kind of a “Litigation Landscape of Fear.”


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