Newton’s Paradox Redux: Whitsett Calls for Scientific Accountability

 State Senator Doug Whitsett, who represents Oregon’s District 28 — the State’s largest when measured in square-miles — posted the following editorial in his most recent newsletter. Whitsett is based in Klamath Falls, but within two days his thoughts have been featured on several blogs and widely distributed as links and/or attachments via email. For those familiar with talk radio personalities, Lars Larson talked about Whitsett’s newsletter on his show Friday, and is planning to interview Dr. Newton himself sometime next week.
Senator Whitsett’s editorial was based on an earlier post and discussion on this blog, which mostly focused on the scientific aspects of what Newton is saying:
Following the blog discussion, a version for a more general readership was then written for Oregon Fish & Wildlife Journal, which has a rural-focused distribution of about 10,000:
Senator Doug Whitsett
R- Klamath Falls, District 28

Phone: 503-986-1728    900 Court St. NE, S-303, Salem, Oregon 97301 

State Seal
Oregon was the first state to adopt a Forest Practices Act. The widely supported 1971 Act was intended to protect forest streams against potential negative timber harvest impacts. It required the maintenance of sufficient undisturbed forest buffers alongside streams to reduce water pollution and soil erosion.
Over the ensuing twenty years, both the purpose and the implementation of the Act changed dramatically. Forest buffer zones were widened by rule in 1987 and then extended by the 1992 Northwest Forest Plan to require the maintenance of 150 foot wide buffers of undisturbed forest vegetation. Those required forest buffers have been enforced for more than two decades.
The purpose of the forest buffers now is allegedly to be to protect cold water fish habitat. Government paid biologists have theorized that maintaining the buffer zones would reduce stream temperatures and result in better fish production in the protected streams. Studies by the Department of Environmental Quality (Department) measured stream temperature and forest buffer widths, but did not evaluate other factors including the fish. The Department established their “Protection of Cold Water Standard” criterion based on those assumptions and studies.
It appears that those “Department scientists” based their assumptions, and the future of both the forest products industry and our salmonid fisheries, on modeled studies that often contradicted empirical research. The government paid biologists never bothered to actually measure the fish production in those protected streams. Worse, they ignored several studies that reported a general increase in fish productivity where clear cuts extended to the edge of the water.
Oregon State University forestry professor emeritus Mike Newton has been researching the actual benefits of streamside forest buffers for more than 20 years. Dr. Newton has measured and evaluated data collected on streams that have no forest buffer zones, streams that have various widths of forest buffers, and streams that have never been logged. He has accumulated years of empirical data on stream temperatures and fish food production. He has counted the actual number and size of fish and calculated fish production volumes in the stream segments.
Dr. Newton’s data emphatically contradicts the conventional wisdom that shaded streams are necessary or even beneficial for salmonid fish production.
His long-term empirical data proves that fish actually grow more numerous, and grow larger, in areas with little or no streamside vegetation, compared to streams with carefully maintained forest buffers that shade the stream surface. His measured data shows that fish reproduce and grow better in sunlit streams because the sunlight creates conditions that grow more food for the fish. One of those beneficial effects is increased water temperature! Any warming of the water that occurs in those sunlit areas is rapidly dissipated, as the water flows downstream.
Clear-cuts extending to the water’s edge, with no streamside forest buffer, produced the highest and largest fish counts in Dr. Newton’ study area. Moreover, streams affected by all different kinds of logging activities consistently produced more fish compared to stream segments passing through unlogged forests.
Dr. Newton’s twenty years of carefully collected on-site data simply destroys the veracity of the Department’s modelled “Protection of Cold Water Standard”. In fact, his data proves that the entire effort to protect the cold water standard may be misguided and actually counterproductive to optimal fish production.
Once again, the adoption of a false assumption by government paid biologists has wrought serious harm on both the timber industry and our fisheries.
Most government paid scientists appear to shun spending time in the field to actually observe, measure and collect real data. They seem to be wed to the practice of supporting their assumptions with modeled data. Too often the information used to calibrate their models is also based on assumed data points.
One could assume that these biologists are either uninformed regarding appropriate scientific methods, too lazy to gather and evaluate empirical data, or that they have an agenda other than the protection of fish. In my opinion, the latter is too often true. The execution of the Forest Practices Act is a clarion example. It has devolved into a pretense of science that targets the future existence of the forest products industry.
The myth that mercurial additives to vaccines causes autism was the most damaging medical hoax of the century. The British scientist that initiated and perpetuated that hoax was found guilty of three dozen charges by the General Medical Council, including dishonesty, irresponsibility and abuse of developmentally challenged children. He was stripped of his science credentials, struck from the Medical Registry and barred from medical practice.
Those scientists that misrepresent and adulterate forest science for political gain deserve no less.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.

Best Regards,

19 thoughts on “Newton’s Paradox Redux: Whitsett Calls for Scientific Accountability”

  1. Nothing against Newton’s extensive research experience and credibility, but this politician’s summary and diatribe is overly simplistic and stumbles hard over the “one size fits all” problem. It’s worth reading the literature no all sides of the issue for oneself. To paraphrase “Doug”, “Those [politicians] that misrepresent and adulterate forest science for political gain deserve…” (fill in the blank)

  2. Guy:

    I think that Whitsett’s message was necessarily simple because of the format he was using and because of the audience he was writing for. He was a very successful veterinarian who has written numerous articles for the popular press and served in several high level positions in local and regional veterinary and ranching organizations, so has had a lot of experience in working with people and with specific audiences — and now he is writing like a politician to his constituency. I think it is interesting that his message is based on an open discussion that began on this blog, and that did present the literature on Dr. Newton’s work.

    Where do you see Whitsett misrepresenting the science? How, specifically, has he “adulterated” forest science for political gain?

  3. Most government paid scientists appear to shun spending time in the field to actually observe, measure and collect real data. They seem to be wed to the practice of supporting their assumptions with modeled data. Too often the information used to calibrate their models is also based on assumed data points….One could assume that these biologists are either uninformed regarding appropriate scientific methods, too lazy to gather and evaluate empirical data, or that they have an agenda other than the protection of fish. In my opinion, the latter is too often true.

    Well, that’s pretty much b.s., in my opinion he has grossly misrepresented “government scientists”, to the extent that you can possibly generalize about such a large and diverse group. I know many of them, work with them every day (including USFS, ARS, state government scientists…), and they deserve better than to be disrespected by some attention-seeking politician. Adulterated, if that means debased by adding an inferior ingredient, is what he has done with his superficial remarks to any reasonable discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of buffer zones. Doug manages to conveniently ignore the fact that Mike Newton himself did this research as a “government scientist”. That’s pretty much what I had in mind with my comment above.

    • Guy:

      Thanks for the clarification. I think you make an important point. Both Newton and Whitsett are being interviewed on talk radio programs in the coming week, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to questioning. I know that Newton is concerned with the accuracy of a couple of statements that Whitsett makes and wants to use the opportunity to strengthen those points, too. I do agree with Whitsett, though, that if poor science was being used to push through regulation, that the scientists paid to do the work should be held individually accountable. And I agree with you that a concern for the quality of work of these individuals shouldn’t be generalized with such a broad brush to “all government scientists.” But I also think that most politicians, from the President on down, often write and speak in this manner.

  4. Sometimes, harvesting is allowed in stream buffers on Forest Service lands. First and foremost, buffers exclude skid trails. Sometimes, they strictly exclude all skidding equipment, and “TKO” (Tractors Keep Out) signs are put up. More and more, small diameter thinning is being allowed, using feller bunchers to snip small trees, inside of stream buffers. I’ve seen excellent operators, who can do their work without losing traction. There has been concern that such choked stream buffers could serve as excellent chimneys, resulting in extreme fire behavior. Snag requirements are often met within those stream buffers, and during drought years, like here in California, wildfires can nuke these watersheds, causing extreme erosion hazards and fisheries damages. (I’m not in favor of intensive logging within buffers.)

  5. As one of a half-dozen or so co-moderators on this blog (“Sharon’s helpers”), I get access to statistics that I would like everyone who registers here to also get. Mostly they are involved with readership: how many viewers a day, how many link to specific posts, number of commenters, etc.

    This weekend I put up three posts of some interest (at least to me), and watched with much interest as our daily visitor rate went over 400 each day. Normally we get about 100 or 200 visitors a day on weekends, and 200 to 400 a day on weekdays, when people are supposed to be working. Instead, this Saturday and Sunday were our two busiest days of the past week, and probably the most weekend visitors total in the history of this blog.

    Very curious, so I checked around a bit. I also posted this address in another blog I co-moderate. That’s usually good for an additional 8-12 visitors. And I sent it out on a couple of email strings I share information and opinions with. Probably another 10-15 there, too. But not 500 unexpected visitors, no matter how salacious the topics, or however interesting the writing styles on a weekend post.

    Then I saw an email invite to visit Lars Larson’s Facebook page:

    Lars posted the URL to this NCFP discussion on his Facebook page yesterday, and it now has 250 Likes, 80 Shares, and 47 Comments on the post. That pretty much explains the sudden increase in weekend traffic. In the meantime, we went from 304 to 303 Subscribers, so that must say something, too.

  6. Bob, just to remind folks… I have been unable to locate someone to do our blog programming tasks.. one of which is to make the stats public. Still looking for possible names, send to me at terraveritas at Need someone experienced with WordPress design. Have bucks, thanks to everyone’s donations.

  7. It is fairly intuitive that warmer water would produce more and bigger fish. What’s less intuitive is whether more and bigger fish are good things in these places. It would be helpful to know if warmer water fish (possibly non-natives) are displacing colder water fish (possibly listed under ESA). Empirical studies of bull trout, for example, have shown that cold water is important to reproduction. (Never mind how temperature changes may affect the rest of the biota.) But I guess we could dam the stream and have bass fishing contests.

    This would probably be a good place to talk about the conditions under which species evolved, and how much cold-water aquatic habitat was historically disturbed, and whether a more conservative approach to maintaining cold water is needed to offset other impacts on at-risk species (including global warming). It is unfortunate that a topic worthy of scientific debate is being used instead as part of an anti-government rant.

    • Hi Jon:

      Please follow the links in this post. We had the “scientific debate” a few months ago, and this “political rant” is based almost directly on that debate. Although “warmer water” productivity might be “intuitive,” we are talking about native salmonids here, not other species, and they have an upper limit in temperature, beyond which growth slows and even death can occur. Too much of a good thing. And this information is based on numerous empirical studies, as previously discussed.

      • I reread the October post, and found the same premise that I question: “Moreover, many streams are far too cold for optimum fish metabolism, and yet the Protecting Cold Water Standard prohibits operations that would provide both a more productive temperature range, but also improved food supplies.” If nature gave us cold water, why is it a good thing to make it warmer? It’s not clear from this description that the study is distinguishing non-native salmonid sport fish from at-risk native species. I would also assume that low- to mid-elevation streams in Oregon are not bull trout streams, so these findings would not be applicable to bull trout habitat.

        • Hi Jon:

          “Nature” didn’t give us streamside buffers. They are an artificial creation of people, manufactured by regulations. Weirdly, our sport fisheries are also on ESA listings! That includes coho, chinook, steelhead, and cutthroat. Bull trout are not native to western Oregon so far as I know (maybe in the higher elevations), and really aren’t even a trout. They used to be called Dolly Vardens, were considered a “junk fish,” and are members of the char family. My son caught one while fishing for steelhead in western Washington, but the guide said it was a “nursery plant” and couldn’t be kept because it was listed with ESA.

  8. Lots of good literature out there on temperature effects in stream ecology. E.g., effect of more light and warmer temperatures on algal growth, and higher BOD may mean less oxygen for fish, also effects on fish reproductive cues, possible encouragement of invasives as Jon mentioned, effects on fish parasite load and fungal pathogens, other things I wouldn’t have thought of if I hadn’t looked it up.

    Here’s one review paper that looks pretty good (free download), and a short excerpt from it, not exactly the random theorizing of lazy government biologists:

    “Water temperature has both economic and ecological significance when considering issues such as water quality and biotic conditions in rivers. Water temperature is one of the parameters in stream ecology that determines the overall heath of aquatic ecosystems (Coutant, 1999). It influences the growth rate of aquatic organisms (Markarian, 1980; Jensen, 1990; Elliott & Hurley, 1997) as well as their distribution (Ebersole, Liss & Frissell, 2001). Most aquatic organisms have a specific range of temperatures that they can tolerate (Coutant, 1977). In the case of salmonids, when temperatures exceed this range, it can adversely affect trout (Lee & Rinne, 1980; Bjornin & Reiser, 1991) and salmon populations (Huntsman, 1942; Garside, 1973). Seasonal and daily variations of water temperatures
    are important determinants for the distribution of aquatic species, as pointed out in the River Continuum Concept (Vannote et al., 1980). As such, it is essential to have a good understanding of the
    thermal regime of rivers for effective fisheries management as well as for conducting environmental
    impact assessments.”

    • Thanks Guy:

      I think that is the longest link ever successfully posted here! I think it must be one of the attributes of the “new improved” WordPress format we transferred to last year.

  9. Bob: As you might remember, I worked with the late Kent Kelly when he was the manager of the Siuslaw Timber Operators Assoc. I was the log and timber buyer for a small sawmill, and as such, had more free time than most so I ended up President of that organization. My job was to assist Kent, to sift through science and find all we could come up with regards to forest management issues we could use in our mission to write a parallel Forest Plan to be presented as an Alternative to the Siuslaw Forest Plan being prepared by the USFS . I read a lot. And I remember specifically reading an Andrews Experimental Forest research paper in which the Newton Paradox was addressed (not by that name, of course). But the same study outline. The measurement (if I remember was by dry weight) of fish and fish food in three distinct timber and riparian conditions: old growth undisturbed, second growth 30 year old to canopy over the stream, and clear cut with no riparian protection. The findings were the same as Newton has shown. At that time I simply surmised that sunlight to grow plants to grow the food chain was the easy answer. Temps had nothing to do with it.

    For those of you who have stream temp issues, I have the 1877 Report to Congress by the US Bureau of Fish and Fisheries. It has a full year of weather, and air and water temperatures taken three times a day for the McCloud River Hatching Station, which was the salmon hatchery now under Shasta Lake, prior to industrial logging and later large scale landscape transformation. Spencer F. Baird ran the Bureau and was a scientist, not a political patronage appointee.

    I will also reinforce memories of creek cleaning by logging operations. The 1962 Columbus Day storm blew down billions of board feet of old and second growth timber, some of which ended up in streams along with natural windfalls and a century of retained logging debris. Two years later, the 1964 Christmas Floods, called a 100 year event, used that blow down timber and logging debris still in streams as battering rams and temporary dams to exacerbate the flood damage. I remember my Dad telling me that Mr. Mudd, the jeweler in on Third St. in Corvallis, had visited with his son who was a forest engineer in Northern California, and that every thing his son had engineered and built for the company he worked for had been destroyed by the flooding. If memory serves, me the Eel River ran an estimated 750,000 cfs at its height during that flood. As a comparison, during a rigorous spring flood on the Columbia River, measured way downstream from major tributaries at Beaver, close to Astoria, the Columbia runs at about 500,000 cfs. The 1964 Christmas Flood was truly a millennial event. The John Day River washed out the I-84 bridge over where the John Day enters the Columbia River. There are thousands of stories about how much runoff reached the Pacific Ocean and the damage it did on the way.

    As a result, logging and wind storm debris ripped out stream banks, stream crossings and docks, riverside homes, moorages, culverts, bridges, and filled ocean beaches with coarse woody debris and dead dairy cows. The Federal answer came from USDOT and the Sec of Agriculture: make sure logging does not leave logs and slash in streams. Thus, the mandatory stream cleaning process began. Zealots in the USFS with a contract in hand imposed the will of “best science” from Washington DC. and the Chief’s Office. Loggers with bonding and insurance at stake, sometimes had to “set back” (re-rig, string haywire, make a “road change”), to yard out one log or other piece of debris, at great expense, because a TSA with a contract in hand threatened to shut down the operation and put the contract in breach due to not removing what he or she maintained was debris caused by logging and not stuff that had been there pre-logging. The only course loggers had was to remove it all, while the lines were over it and the ability was in place. And so they took it all. Slick draws, intermittent stream beds, and year around streams, all were “cleaned” as a defensive response to actions by zealots working as TSAs. I was there. I have the hard hat. The bad knee. The jagger scars on my hands. And you can’t remove that stuff and unhook it on the slope as it then becomes a safety hazard to the crew. It goes to the landing and is burned in the slash pile.

    Post 1964, with the intervention of USDOT (which lost hundreds of Billions in infrastructure to the Christmas Flood), the USFS began to use DOT standards for road building. There were no more side cast roads built. Those had slid out wherever the bottoms of side cast fills had washed away in the millennial Christmas Flood. The new roads had to be “full bench,” which was excavation of the road prism to solid ground, all excavated material hauled, placed and compacted in engineered fills over draws with stream bed culvert placement or in “waste” areas. It was an expensive and wholesale change in road construction equipment needs and process. Pre 1964 side cast roads have been the source of all the environmental finger pointing, going on still. Full bench roads don’t wash away or bleed sediment. Old roads from before the flood do, still. The post 1964 roads cost a lot more to build. They were a piece of the “below cost” timber sale predicament. And many are now being “obliterated” at great cost. Dirt is again being disturbed, but this time due to newer “best science,” which supports road removal and obliteration and has Congressional support and money. All, of course, wholeheartedly supported by the people who would rather logging never happen, anywhere.

    So then the fisheries people, who were behind the stream cleaning with all their power early on, wanting “log jams” removed because they believed they were an impediment to anadromous fish movement in streams, found themselves awash in newer “best science” that declared that coarse woody debris was indeed, critical fish habitat for young fish and their security needs. I think it was a revelation from a study on a sizable tributary to the lower Siuslaw River, that drained a significant mostly private land watershed off the north side of Roman Nose and came out on the south side of the river across from Davidson’s milling operations. That study had 60% of all the coho fingerlings needing to over summer and winter, instream, before migration to sea, living in and around one large old growth root wad in the stream. That became the epicenter of outrage for the “lack of coarse woody debris” in coast streams, and the need for habitat improvement. Wild coho were ESA listed as both threatened and endangered, depending on the stream. Since then, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, and millions of board feet of merchantable timber of “old growth” size (over 22″ dbh) have been placed in Oregon coast and other area streams. Placing old growth structure in streams is a part of logging, “salmon recovery”, a segment of the helicopter industrial work load, and for old guys like me, well, we just stand there and grin, fully appreciating the insanity of it all over our lifetimes as things go full circle.

    I have rambled because all proactive forest actions have a history of why and how. We have gone from the days of splash dams and stream wrecking, to proactive reflex stream wrecking with laws and regulations demanding the pulling of coarse woody debris from streams, to now having a proactive expansion of stream structure issues aimed at recreating meanders and placing structure wood in streams. Myriad conflicting rules and regulations, all of which are “controls” on logging, are evidently good public relations maneuvers for the politically astute. To what good has this “best science” come? What is the point of the now wide riparian leave tree regulation, and no logging zones? The Newton Paradox has nothing to do with it. The planners want to have a large and steady supply of public and other people’s trees to haphazardly fall in the streams, over time, to become structure and coarse woody debris. That those very trees shade the stream and decrease fish and fish food production is not relevant. Coarse woody debris is the relevant issue. Stream temperature is not the issue. Debris source and frequency of deposition is the relevant issue. A fully treed headwall that fails is a good thing: adds woody debris, new gravel, puts some sunlight in the swamp, and probably a lot of fines and other “bad” materials from erosion that can be and are ignored. Again we are involved in single source “Best Science” , or so it seems. Always there is a response, a reaction, to one issue, and then the mitigation or remediation creates another problem. Not unlike no logging, no fuel removal work, resulting in stand removal fire that is destroying the very NSO habitat the regulations were mandated to protect.

    Sure, the trees were there to be owl habitat and to also burn. The result is the same. Barred owls using a wider range of habitats have displaced the smaller spotted owls, and now the reactionary “best science” is to use special USFWS agents to shoot barred owls. Evidently Darwin’s is not “Best Science” in present day evolutions.

    Newton’s work has reinforced the work done much earlier on the Andrews, which is laudable. Structure has provided food and security for instream fish needs. The erosion issues are wild shots in the dark at a moving target. “Fire for beneficial use” has resulted in wholesale watershed soil movement, debris flows, and even the total blocking of a section of the Salmon River in Idaho. That forced the USFS to find an obscure rule and interpretation in the Wilderness Act that allowed them to bring in a pack train load of explosives to blow the huge, dangerous log jam and allow dozens of stranded rafters to continue their voyage to a way home. Evidently they couldn’t wait over winter in the hope the next spring freshet would obliterate the jam. Forest management is now mostly about whose ox is being gored at the moment, and whose ear the ox owner can get in Government to mediate a solution to save their ox. “Best science” is but a tool used or ignored, depending upon circumstances. Maybe I will copyright the the “Best Science Wound Cover” and sell band aids.

    This Christmas will be the 50th anniversary of that Great Flood of Christmas 1964. Bless those who lost loved ones and treasure. A considerable volume of the timber being logged today was planted after that date. And the majority of Americans alive were not born when that event happened, and it should be noted that it was THE reason for a lot of landscape and transportation management and social engineering in the years since. A lot of the reactive paths taken were “best political science” in mufti, the political part not revealed. I guess that is why we now call it “best” instead of just “science.” Newton’s namesake, from long ago, has laws named after him in science. That is because that science was science.

    “Best Science” is a hedge on a bet. Betters can win, lose or come to a draw. Science is irrefutable or so I was told over 50 years ago. “Best Science” is a band aid, a legal analgesic. I wouldn’t trust Best Science if it were a friend or just an acquaintance. Sort of like BFF. Furtive. Mercurial. Or like the sign over the front door of a friend’s single wide in the 1960s: “You Used Me.” By design, you just can’t put your finger on why. Big Lie? Or Eisenhower’s warning about Government funding of science? I was burned by creek cleaning, a half a century ago, and no apology has been forthcoming. What else are “they” lying about? With all the NSA activities invading private space and the lie that its existence proves, what can you trust when the truth is steamrolled at the highest levels of our governance?

    • John:

      I was in High School in Portland, Oregon during both the Columbus Day Storm and the Christmas Flood and remember them very well. The impact of each on modern forest management regulations was huge, as you point out, but largely goes unrecognized.

      I think the “Andrews paper” you are talking about was also written by Newton and referenced in his 1996 paper:

      He was also working on stream temperature at the time:

      I think I recall the specific paper you are referring to, though, and it was my memory of it that caused me to contact Mike during the discussion that led to the “Newton’s Paradox” post and subsequent article. He was just finishing up an article for an academic publication on this very topic, and so led to the timeliness of the current discussion. I still can’t find the original paper in my files, although I’m certain I have it buried somewhere nearby.

    • JTjr

      Couldn’t agree with you more and really appreciate your “ramblings”.

      I would add that “Best Science” has been redefined and is now “the Latest Fad in unproven scientific theories/conjecture” instead of being “Established Science Validated by repeated successful operational implementation”.

  10. Bob: The time frame for me to have read that paper and Kent and I using it for balance in our writing of the STOA Alternative for the Siuslaw NF 10 year plan was 1987-90. The mill and I were old news by 1991. No public timber for sale. Log prices beyond profitable. Mill shut down, sold at auction, dismantled, employees and owners gone. So what I read could very well have been a preliminary paper with the peer reviewed one following it in later years. A lot of things had happened on a landscape scale in the PNW, Region 6, and a plethora of research was ongoing and preliminary papers were being released. I remember the Andrews X Forest stuff. I also remember what was being learned about sediments, sedimentation, and salmon, all from the Mt St Helens eruptions. The below sediment retainer dam spawning of coho who were constructing up to 2 meter tall volcanic rock “redds” on top of which they laid eggs was one, which allowed heavier ongoing sedimentation to flow by under the redds and the shape of the mounds accelerating the water flow to prevent sediments from settling on the mound. That is now a very productive chinook behavior on the main stem Columbia River, with mounded redds being observed below Bonneville Dam and others. Now there are downstream migrants, fall chinook, who are not going straight to sea with the spring freshet, but are spending the summer in the food rich warm main stem reservoirs and feeding all spring and summer, and continuing to the sea in late summer or early fall, fully a foot long and ten times more able to survive in the ocean. The cormorants and Caspian terns are gone by then from Sand Island. Adaptable, probably in their dna, is what I learned about salmon from all that reading which I have somewhat continued to do.

    That Newton has been at it for so long is going to make a difference. And how warm summers and less stream flow will impact fish is going to interesting. I have an inkling the fish will adapt. Maybe the deal favors later returning fish or earlier returning fish. The fish will make the adaptations and survive. Salmon are hundreds of millions of years old as a species. They have seen and endured much in that timeframe.

    I also remember Kent and I not allowing half the road miles to be discounted as non timber growing land. I cruised some seasonal roads with reprod on either side, using a one chain strip if I remember, from the centerline towards and including roadside timber. And then went two chains beyond that and another strip, to see what the volume differences would be, and found that it was not statistically different and in some cases, the roadside strip had more volume., even with the treeless road included. The roadside trees used the precip runoff from the road, lack of competition along the road, and the increased sunlight to more limbs to grow much faster and bigger than the cohort trees in the interior of the stand. No real science and controls. We just winged it and used our very incomplete findings to only count half the spur road miles and acres as not part of the timber growing base for the forest. We then applied the same parameters to the second and third order stream and riparian areas. If I remember, the STOA Alternative was the one the Forest Supervisor signed off on and sent to Chief Robertson to sign, which he did. The USFS best alternative was an annual cut of 270 million board feet, and the STOA plan was for 332 million bf. and we reserved 185,000 acres of 100 year old second growth for Mature Forest Reserves and did not touch the 32,000 acres of “old growth” fire survivor acres with one or more 300 year old or older trees on them. Then Clinton canned the Chief and elevated JW Thomas, a biologist, to be USFS CEO….And a succession of NGO job swappers since. The SESpool folks man the lower rungs of the Chief’s Office now that it is a political patronage job. The Clinton Legacy. The Northwest Timber Plan. Changed my life.

  11. John:

    I fought a lot of that roadless area stuff because it was so dishonest. GIS Maps showing what looked like plates of spaghetti of “roads” in areas I knew to be all but inaccessible. My reforestation crews were the very first that I am aware of to use “micro-site” tree planting locations combined with density/acre stocking objectives. As a result, roads, cat roads, and trails made virtually no difference in numbers of trees or volumes per acre in the plantations we established — my crews were specifically taught to avoid travel lanes (no matter how old or ill defined) and space seedlings along their borders according to the travel lanes width. This is, if we were looking to plant 300 trees/acre, the average spacing between seedlings would be 12 feet; if a 16-foot wide rocked surface led to a landing, then trees could be planted at 8-foot intervals among its sides to maintain desired density. And, like you say and for the reasons you give, the trees all grew at about the same rate. The anti-road propaganda was based on ignorance and opportunity and just turned into one more political action designed to stop or reduce active management of our federal forests. In my opinion.


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