NW Forest Plan: Close your eyes, plug your ears, declare victory and move on.

This was just printed in the Portland Oregonian today. In my own personal opinion, Jim Furnish may have been the worst Forest Supervisor in the history of the Siuslaw National Forest, based on his record and based on his pronouncements during and following his career there. He now declares the “Forest Wars” are over, and he thinks he personally did a great job in helping bring that episode to a conclusion. Maybe he hasn’t been reading newspapers or watching TV the past 10 years or two months, maybe he is just delusional, or maybe he has a (really) dry sense of humor. In any instance, this editorial is a good indication of his grasp on history and on reality.  
I’ll agree with Furnish that this plan has not been replicated anywhere else, but strongly disagree when he says it has been a “success” and that it should be replicated in other places. By nearly all other accounts, the “forest wars” continue unabated and the NW Forest Plan has been a devastating failure — and particularly for rural timber manufacturing businesses and economies. Also, spotted hoot owl numbers have continued to decline — not that facts really matter when making declarations. It will be interesting to read the comments of the anonymous participants on the OregonLive blog: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/04/twenty_years_of_the_northwest.html

Twenty years of the Northwest Forest Plan: Guest opinion

spotted owl.JPG
In this 2003 file photo, a northern spotted owl sits on a tree in the Deschutes National Forest near Camp Sherman. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Guest ColumnistBy Guest Columnist 
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on April 11, 2014 at 2:45 PM, updated April 11, 2014 at 2:48 PM

By Jim Furnish and Dan Chu

Twenty years ago, the Northwest Forest Plan sought to resolve the timber wars. Has it worked? We think so.

It’s important to recall that gridlock plagued the Northwest during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The old-growth forest that once covered much of the region had been decimated by clearcutting and other logging, threatening the spotted owl and other wildlife. While many stakeholders demanded protections for the remaining forests, the shutdown of logging on federal lands left others facing an uncertain future. Out of this tense situation came the Northwest Forest Plan.

Hundreds of local, grassroots stakeholders were actively involved in the creation of the plan, and hundreds of thousands of people across the country submitted comments to help refine it.

The Northwest Forest Plan had no precedent and continues to be a unique landscape scale management plan. The plan dramatically reduced logging to save wildlife and fish habitat, placing the burden for spotted owl protection on federal lands (thus “freeing” private timber lands for continued harvest), and imposed cautionary requirements for numerous other species; all to be accomplished with layers of required cooperation among affected parties.

Over the next few years a radically different vision for our national forests was implemented, most notably in the Siuslaw National Forest. The timber industry began restoration forestry. Citizens throughout the Coast Range joined hands with the Forest Service as partners to craft a better future for their public lands. In giving the land a needed respite from decades of unsustainable logging, nature has been busily healing itself.

In the 20 years since its inception, the Northwest Forest Plan has protected hundreds of wildlife species, conserved and restored riparian areas, protected water resources, and kept some of our country’s largest remaining old-growth forests intact.

While not perfect, the Northwest Forest Plan has provided a durable vision and guide for forest management. The benefits have stretched beyond the initial aims of protecting wildlife and preserving clean water. We know now that the forests, particularly those in the Northwest, play an essential role in capturing and storing climate-disrupting carbon pollution. The ripple effect from healthy forests spreads beyond the communities and forests located within the scope of the plan.

As we mark the 20th anniversary of this landmark management guidance, we should look for ways to strengthen and replicate it elsewhere, not undermine it. Nature has tremendous, but not limitless, restorative powers. It’s vital that we continue the focused, collaborative work started two decades ago to ensure management of our national forests provides a vision for a better tomorrow, not a flashback to the unsustainable and conflict-riddled past.

We’d do well to consider where we’d be today without the Northwest Forest Plan.

Jim Furnish is a former deputy chief of the National Forest Service and served as Siuslaw National Forest supervisor during the creation and implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan. Dan Chu is the senior director for Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign. 

25 thoughts on “NW Forest Plan: Close your eyes, plug your ears, declare victory and move on.”

  1. Ironically, the California Spotted Owl gets more protections than the listed NSO. Under the Northwest Forest Plan, very large trees can still be cut, under certain conditions. Both clearcutting AND highgrading were banned with the voluntary CASPO guidelines, in 1993, in the Sierra Nevada. That drastically reduced litigation and changed so many things. However, both places still have their serial litigators, still trying to move the goalposts, once again.

    • Ironically, the only place where spotted owls have held their own is on the private lands intensively managed by the successors to the Simpson Timber Company. It is ironic that the FWS experts dismissed the evidence on these managed lands as an aberration when the NSO recovery plan was being developed. Ironically, 20+ years later it doesn’t appear to have been an aberration.

      Ironically, the failure of the NSO recovery plan shows the results that can be expected from an unbalanced management plan focusing on a single minor species to the detriment of maintaining a balanced succession for the ecosystem’s keystone species which provides the habitat for said minor species.

      Ironically, the failure of the NSO recovery plan shows the results that can be expected from relying on a false sense of urgency and acting on convoluted supposition rather than on established science and ignoring the need to wait for a more comprehensive analysis. I still contend that such an in-depth analysis would have shown that reducing the proportion of younger, more open acreage which was the prime forage habitat for Barred Owls forced the Bard Owl to forage in the Spotted Owls preferred habitat in the interior of the old mature stands. That increased direct competition for forage is why we are shooting barred owls imho.

      Ironically, we are shooting Barred Owls that can interbreed with the NSO and doing it in the name of maintaining biological diversity. Ironically, in an age of heightened concern about global change we are shooting a cousin highly adaptable to both warm and cold climates and varied forage and nesting habitats in order to save another cousin which time has proven to be anything but adaptable. Ironically, 20+ plus years later we are still guessing and shooting Barred Owls because it might work and because we don’t have anything better to offer other than that one guess. After 20+ years it’s still better to do something in ignorance rather than let nature/evolution have it’s way.

      Ironically, man must intervene except when it comes to sound forest management.

  2. The Northwest Forest Plan – a grand success for all creatures great and small, except for the spotted owl (numbers decline), and people (unemployment, poverty, family disruption and local government bankruptcy). Jim Furnish and the U.S. Forest Service and Dan Chu and the Sierra Club – you have served Gaia well. Too bad about the collateral damage.

    • Mac

      I would add that the NWFP is only “a grand success for all creatures great and small” in the short term and will result in a very strong net negative in the long term. But maybe that is part of what you meant by “collateral damage”.

  3. I’ll bet we end up with some new commenters, and while some people might not like the quality of the new comments, I’ll bet they prove to be amusing and entertaining. Here’s a fun partial reply to Bob:

    “The people of America have made it clear that our public lands are no longer going to be used for just putting out 2×4’s and toilet paper, but are going to be managed to protect millions of years of evolution. The sooner you accept this fact the better for all of us.”

    Soooo, how much Oregon forest “evolution” occurred during the multiple Ice Ages in those “millions of years”. Does anything evolve under glaciers?!? The Biscuit area does have some interesting diversity, due to the lack of substantial glaciation. There might have been some evolution going on there but, the Biscuit Fire did do some serious damage, and we didn’t do much to protect that diversity, preferring the “whatever happens” strategy. Bob has some excellent views of the incinerated Babyfoot Lake area.

    (Edit) One thing that bugs me is that some people assume that high levels of clearcutting and highgrading would have continued, all of these years since the Plan was enacted. There were plenty of concerned timber people who wanted to see clearcutting radically reduced. Same for highgrading. The comments to the article seem to be filling up with extreme opposing views, seeming to enjoy the fight, instead of providing facts and insights. I’d like to see more about how the Northwest Forest Plan failed to provide the local communities with promised management opportunities. The compromise was never fulfilled, with litigation dominating the “matrix” lands. I’m still not a fan of cutting the maximum amount of old growth that is legally allowed. I’d rather see a site-specific approach to take “some” excess old growth trees. I’d like to educate myself by seeing some results of those “regeneration harvests”, to see what kind of forest has grown back. Since my parents lived in Coos Bay for 25+ years, I’ve seen the private land clearcuts grow back, green and thick. I’ve also seen steep clearcuts harvested by cable logging. Yes, those also “green-up” but, I do know that erosion is a significant issue. I think I would rather see more partial harvests on steep lands above significant creeks and rivers, instead of clearcuts.

    • LarryH

      Re: “some people assume that high levels of clearcutting and highgrading would have continued”
      –> I don’t know about the assumption part. What I do suspect is that it easier to pick a fight against past practices when sufficient regulatory controls weren’t in place than it is to find fault with continuously improving sound forest management.
      –> What I believe is that any scientific basis for the appropriate use of clearcuts is ignored by those opposed to sound forest management because of their perception that their right to an aesthetically pleasing viewshed from the sky or from the ground is constitutionally guaranteed regardless of any negative impact. They willfully ignore the good provided by a site specific mix of matrix management (considering all appropriate forms of regeneration) and natural management in terms of fire and beetle breaks and in terms of providing a balanced successional ecosystem structure.
      –> What I believe is that emotions and self interests trump the long term good (i.e. $17+ trillion in US debt). How do you take someone seriously when they claim that they are interested in leaving a legacy for future generations when their actions are diametrically opposed to their talk?

    • This statement from the comments shows a lack of knowledge about the biology of the spotted owl:

      “The Northern Spotted Owl was selected as an indicator species because it sits at the top of the food chain in an Old Growth trophic system.”

      Yes, they DO nest in old growth but, there is very little to eat in those closed canopy stands. They hunt in more open stands, and are not at the top of the food chain there, either. Great grey owls and goshawks are other birds that will eat a spotted owl. The survival issues are much more than simply excluding timber projects from the forests. In my opinion, owls would be served best by having more uneven-aged management, especially on private lands. It is known that the owls will nest in younger stands, in places where their nests are protected from predators. Owls also love “edge effect”.

  4. Wow. But it just affirms what a tool Furnish really was, and remains. Sorry, but that’s the truth. And don’t get me started about Babyfoot Lake. Been there, done that, still disgusted.

  5. Furnish was a lackey stooge. [Edit by Andy Stahl, moderator. This is an example of unacceptable personal attacks. I spend enough time correcting my 4 teenagers; I would hope not to have to do so with adults]. If I recall he made some “sweetheart deals” with some enviro litigation back here back in the 90’s. I’m sure it was a good career move for him…as he’s now a “consulting forester” for enviros in D.C. (I luv that-I wonder what his billable hour is LOL). Whatever.
    When thinking of the NW Plan 20 years later…I have to believe that the unwritten, unspoken, un-talked about headline in many people’s mind in the PNW is, “Uhh…we set aside all that old growth and the spotted owl is still declining…It’s starting to look like the scientists were wrong and the reason for the decline was the barred owl all along.” Ouch. Sacrificing so much for NO results never sits well with human nature. A little egg on face. The public doesn’t give a crap about the science…as our friends know…it’s the simple sound bite buzz phrase image that counts.

    On the bright side, which I hope cheers you up a bit bob, I was in Oregon last week…and I noticed the Sunday “Oregonian” was pathetically small LOL. I picked up a small town newspaper in Wyoming a couple days ago that had more content. I saw that the new “compact format” was another attempt by the “Big O” to staunch the flow of red ink. I also saw that circulation has plummeted by 30% in the last ten years. I also saw that they went from 315 full time journalists in 2008 to less than 200 now. Always nice to see the liberal print media doing the slow death. Maybe they can find work in some timber county in the non existent tourist industry that they promised was going to materialize once logging ended. The internet broke their monopoly…which also bodes ill for the enviro establishment. The biggest thing going for the enviros, and their biggest vulnerability today, is that no one in the media establishment ever checked their math.

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the logging/politico scene in Oregon. We spent a nice afternoon in the lovely Tillamook State Forest (the largest “recovered clearcut” in the PNW Larry-LOL) . Wouldn’t it be fair to compare the Tillamook ecologically with the Siuslaw NF that Furnish ran? Both Coast Range. Now here you have a state run by Democrats…and yet the Oregon Department of Lands logs at the exact same rate that the Siuslaw did in the 80’s! The Siuslaw used to log 300 MMBF/year in the 80’s, but in their zeal to exterminate early seral species from NF lands they only log 30 MBF now. All of it thinning to promote old growth for a species that everyone now knows is going to die off anyway.

    Maybe it’s a dirty little secret I shouldn’t let out…but no matter how you slice it… the ODF is logging at the same rate as the USFS did in the 80’s. Of course, it’s not old growth they’re logging. What blows me away…is that with this whole “structural based management,” half the harvest is skyline thinning to promote “layered” and “old forest” structure. I’m impressed with what you can do with 120 inches of rain a year and $350/MBF stumpage AND still harvest as much as they did in the 80’s. No wonder your governor, who looks like he once shared a doobie with Jerry Brown back in the 80’s, is promoting this for USFS lands. The last time I looked…the Willamette was composed of 30% OG, 30% regen, and 30% “mature but not OG.”

    Once again, here’s a state run by Democrats. Clatsop county, which is demanding more harvest from the state forests, gave Obama 55% of the vote??? Columbia and Tillamook counties gave lesser amounts but still favored Obama. This is a state run by democrats…and yet measure 35(2004), which would have banned logging on 50% of the Tillamook, was hooted down 70% to 30%. Measure 64(1998), which would have banned clearcutting, was shot down by an even larger 80% to 20%. Now who could be in favor of clearcutting?? I don’t know…maybe all the Californians who have moved in the last 10 years will change that landscape. (I couldn’t figure out why I was getting “flipped off” all the time, until I realized my rental car had California plates-LOL)

    Considering you can see on Google Earth recent “2nd growth” clearcuts that practically run down to the coast, when you consider most of the coast range IS a clearcut at some stage of regeneration,…I sense that Oregonians are a lot more tolerant of logging then the viral crowd would lead us to believe. Maybe not old growth logging…but I sense Oregonians would like to see a lot more on USFS lands. I just read a quote by “DeFazio”…complaining about “radical enviros” (his words-not mine) in regards to these O&C lands. I sense that in Oregon, as we’ve seen in Montana and Colorado… the era of the “Radical enviro” just isn’t en vogue anymore.

    • Actually, I wanted to see what a “regeneration cut” looks like as it grows. I’ve seen the private clearcuts all around Coos Bay. I’ve also surveyed inside many clearcuts on the Powers RD, doing stand exams. There is a huge variety of current conditions within all those clearcuts. I’ve also seen what “naturally-regenerated” clearcuts look like, on private lands, just outside of the town of Powers. It was a fairly recent change in private logging practices, where clearcuts now require reforestation. Another issue I haven’t seen mentioned is that Douglas-fir trees don’t handle the kinds of logging damage, that selective logging does, very well. “Skin-ups” do more damage at certain times of the year, from what I heard. Bark peels off in larger chunks. I defer to those more knowledgeable about even-aged management, on the wet side of Oregon.

      • Very interesting insight about “Douglas-fir trees don’t handle the kinds of logging damage, that selective logging does, very well”
        –> Am I correct in assuming that the probability of skin ups increases in the summer when the sap is flowing and decreases in the winter when it isn’t just as it does down here?

        In the South, if my memory serves me correctly, pine skin ups of more than a third of the circumference on thinnings are going to make it hard for the logger to find future work. Smaller skin ups are also a problem if they are frequent. But, Doug Fir densities are naturally greater than that for southern pines as I recall so that would suggest that there is a greater chance for DF skin ups. Loblolly pine basal areas down here need to stay below 120 to minimize the chance for southern pine beetle outbreaks. The last that I knew was that plantings here were 18 to 20 feet between rows so as to minimize machinery damage to the leave trees during first thinnings. Within rows plantings can be anywhere from every 6 to 10 feet depending on varying philosophies regarding the need for self pruning and for planting all equal genetic quality seedlings or mixing up high genetics on a 18X18 to 20X20 grid with cheaper less genetically improved seedlings within rows intended for removal at the first thinning barring damage to the improved seedlings.

        • Gil:
          Douglas-fir are even-aged and typically form a closed canopy at an early age. Spring is when the sap is running here as our summers are very dry and trees become fairly dormant at that time. Open-grown fir get thick, protective bark, but also grow very large limbs so do not make good lumber or veneer. And don’t need to be thinned in any instance. The trees are very pitchy, so don’t make very good chips for paper products, either. We were doing precommercial thinnings on some of our plantations at a very early age before markets went bad in the 80’s. A lot of places stopped most precommercial thinnings at that time because of market uncertainties, but well-spaced trees grow into stands that are much easier to commercially thin thereafter. At some point Douglas-fir need to be clearcut or they will start being replaced by lesser value shade tolerant species. “Nature’s way” is crown fires, wind, or volcanoes more often than bugs or diseases in most parts of the range — but the basic biological effect is just about the same as a clearcut.

          • BobZ

            Thanks for the silviculture refresher on DF. Your points are part of the reason that I feel so strongly about the need for some loosely/flexibly regulated matrix management in the west on National Forests.

            As to the role of DF in forest products, I would like to suggest that those may have been the opinions for a segment of the population at that particular period in time or for the type of paper mills in a certain locale but it is not typical in terms of the role that DF has played and does play in providing wood products. Here is where we are now.
            1) Doug Fir lumber strength is only exceeded by that of Longleaf Pine in terms of common construction woods. This is based on my memory of a research paper that I once did and validation here
            2) DF is an “excellent resource for pulp production where tear strength is an important quality
            3) Your concerns about pitch are relevant only to fine papers which are a fairly small portion of the paper market. In addition, print quality in fine papers and the outer layer in beer packaging requires shorter hardwood fibers in order to provide a smoother printing surface and less ink bleeding. If I am not mistaken both DF and SYP (So. Yellow Pine) are the primary sources for Kraft paper board and I know that SYP is so pitchy that it was the source of the turpentine industry. Sorry, but I am relying on experience here since I can no longer get free access to the periodicals that carry this info but this link does tend to back up my memory.
            4) “As a versatile timber tree, Douglas-fir has few rivals. No tree in the world produces more wood products for human use. Its strong, relatively dense wood is used to produce large timber beams, boards, railroad ties, plywood veneer, and wood fiber for paper manufacture. Today, most Douglas-fir wood is from second-growth plantation trees or smaller trees in overstocked stands; huge beams are mostly a thing of the past”.
            5) Here is a March 2005 JOF (Journal of Forestry) article on intensive management of DF which will provide a broader view of the role of thinning DF.

      • Andy: I like the way you did this, except the teenager comment seemed a little snarky and belittling. Honest, though, please feel free to make similar edits on any of my own posts when adrenaline or testosterone (or life or beer or medications, or some combination thereof) pushes me a little over the line on these types of comments. I like that you left his original words in place and took accountability for your action. Derek’s remark did make me laugh, though, probably because I’ve had very similar thoughts — and worse — about Furnish from time to time over the years. How about: “[moderator’s name here]: I have made this edit because it is the policy of this blog to avoid ad hominem attacks and name-calling as a general policy. Please use better judgment in future comments.” Something like that?

  6. In the Furnish/Chu worldview, it appears that human creatures who need family-wage jobs to provide for their families are not even worth mentioning, nor noting the success or lack thereof.

    So when you see these things posted, you gotta ask, why are they writing this? Why these people? Why now?

    And thank you Andy for moderating…the authors are just people who have their own thoughts and agenda and like all of us are beloved children of Gaia. We don’t agree with them, and it’s frustrating because it’s hard to get our side of the story out, but we can disagree without personal attacks.

    I apologize if this sounds preachy.. but that’s an occupational hazard ;).

  7. http://crosscut.com/2014/04/13/environment/119579/northwest-forest-plan-20-years-battles-obama/

    There will probably be a lot of celebrations or wakes depending on your point of view. I don’t know anything about this source (and I don’t agree with the statement that NFMA was the legal basis for court losses), but this article summarizes the history. I just wanted to point out the (ultimately fruitless) role of ‘sue and settle’ with timber industry plaintiffs by the Bush administration.

    • Yep, not a fan of “sue and settle”, from either side. However, I think we can be very sure that there will be more of it. I think that there shouldn’t be very many areas that are completely off-limits. Instead, we should adopt site-specific actions in places that need it. Some of those actions will cost money and effort to accomplish, with benefits that exceed strict preservation. That is where stewardship strategies would come into play. I think it is important to bundle non-commercial activities into timber harvest plans. Re-invest that money back into the forests, instead of the General Fund.

  8. I still think the NWFP will be remembered by the people of the NW with the same fondest as the Chinese cultural revolution is by the Chinese.
    20 years later and things are not getting better. There are so many written and unwritten laws that now control the thought process of the Forest Service and BLM that there seems little hope for intelligent planning, or behavior.
    The first sale to come out of the Powers Ranger District after the NWFP was 6 million bft thinning sale bought by Georgia Pacific. And here I had this illusion that the locals were going to finally get a few trees. I think they have sold maybe 4 trucks loads of salvage material in the last 15 years, in small timber sales.)
    Then they had Biscuit fire and you could see that they thought it was a good idea burning as much forest as they could. “Better burnt than logged”. ” Restoring fire to the environment”.
    Now our state representatives want to sell the Elliot State Forest rather fight the lawsuits.
    Which makes me wonder why the “people” can’t log “‘their” lands but the corporations can?
    And who cares if we don’t have enough money for rural schools. “Why would people want to live there anyways?”

  9. There are two issues that drive the logging of trees: profits and planning. The sawmilling industry is for all intents and purposes, converted over to one pass spaghetti mills making dimension lumber, mostly from their own timberlands and from REITs selling logs. The building industry has also changed its designs, methods and material requirements to fit small log products, which are “engineered” and stapled, glued, nail gunned and slammed together as housing by specialists who do one part of the building process, fast and efficiently, and a contractor who is good is a process manager who has the right people there at the right time to keep the process moving along smoothly. If you need clear lumber, there is a nation somewhere in the world willing to sell legacy trees for your needs, so they might have money to buy guns.

    Few people recognize that homes have all those various angles and roof pitches not because that is the height of design. Nope. The load height and width restrictions on highway hauling pre fab trusses from the factory to the job determine the size and configuration of trusses, and thus you have a limited number of sizes and combinations around which to design a roof line and the rooms below. The “choice” is that there are no longer big trees enough to cut 32′ long 4x16s to build a ranch house exposed beam ceiling house. The Timber Giants made you think these pointy topped boxes are so chic, because they can’t sell timbers from small logs.

    All of this was accomplished by the now REIT timber giants, who knew they were out of “old growth” by 1980, and a try at buying USFS timber was stymied by the SBA set aside program on each Ranger District which restricted the over 500 employee entities to a finite percentage of the total offering. LP bought a mill owner out in the Columbia River gorge, and took over his timber portfolio. The action sent all the surrounding USFS land into SBA set asides for the next 7 years. And LP was gone by then. So the REITs had to compete with the “smalls” who were aggressively competitive and that was a losing cause as the REIT management structure and overhead was too burdensome to compete, and they couldn’t buy USFS and still export logs. They changed how to build a house out of small log produced products with their R&D departments. Got LA County to buy into their engineered products. They changed how to build a house to meet their limited product line coming from tree farm small logs. But it wasn’t going to fly unless they had no competition from those gypo mills making 2×10 and 12 floor joists out of larger USFS timber. So the best way was to get rid of USFS timber, and the competition, and that is exactly what happened. That the collateral damage was rampant destruction of the infrastructure and social fabric of the rural West wasn’t of any concern to them. They had preferred stock holders in St. Paul and Chicago who were latched on to the dividend teat like a piglet with an attitude. They get served first. Have been served first.

    Oregon has its vaunted Oregon Forest Practices Act, which has reforestation rules and all kinds of nanny state regulation of those heathen loggers and forest land owners. The urban majority demands that logged land be immediately reforested. Hello. Economics demands that land be planted and be again growing trees ASAP. And, when you have the Federal Estate, the largest landowner, shut down, the lumber market is yours and Canada’s, and we can buy enough Congress to make it as tough as possible for Canada to sell lumber here. Right now, the USA is so poor, even the Canadians can’t sell much wood here. The result is the private landscape in Oregon is scalped by the various REITs and pension funds (yes–CalPERS is now a timberland owner and exporter of logs to China from Oregon’s Clatsop county.) The usual legacy timberland owners are still around, but the new guys in town are insurance companies and public employee pension funds. All are really into exporting logs. And buying timberland the REITs have to sell to keep their tax status. Next the development and subdivision blackmailing will begin. And state wide land use will be abrogated by the REITS, you just watch. Money talks in the halls of government, and nothing can be bought faster or cheaper than a “good” politician. So planting trees and having fast growing forests is now not only the trust puppy’s best bet, but the school teachers and the guy being held up by the shovel on the pothole patching crew as well. Down the road, there might be a windfall in the development game as well. And what a better way to have the dough to pay up on a life insurance policy than to have had trees planted for 30 years to be cut to provide the money and then get new ones growing as fast as you can. Frankentrees if at all possible.

    What has been lost on the USFS side of the deal to environmental zealots is also lost by planning on the private side: diversity of stand types and vegetation responses that are NOT trees: meadows, fens, brakes, bogs, whatever. The forest of today is wall to wall trees and trees only. Little “weed” species, or open areas. The whole of the diversity of wildlife is about the forest as security cover and the feed is on the “edges.” Sorry. The edges get sprayed at least twice with herbicides to make sure the vaunted 185 “free to grow” trees on the third anniversary of the end of logging are there, and all the grasses, forbs, and brush were killed. Sort of like this environmentally correct deal of burning ethanol. Take another 3 million acres of CRP land out of reserves, kill all the native plants, including the milkweeds, and then wonder why the monarch butterflies are doomed. We burned them with the ethanol. By green public demand. By Presidential decree.

    I read in this blog the concerns about lynx surveys before you can sell timber. Dolts! Lynx are 95% dependent upon snowshoe hares for prey. The hares prefer 30-40 year old reprod on a landscape with little complexity and above the mean winter snow line. When the timber gets 50 years old, fewer and fewer hares and even fewer lynx. They have to move on. So any survey for lynx is like interviewing the homeless or winos about where they prefer to live, what kind of habitat they need. They are transients, and so are the hares and the lynx that feed almost exclusively on hares. The official USFS publication on lynx also notes that they need denning areas, and those are mature timber with a high incidence of windfalls with uprooted trees, not rot downs from fire or bugs. And a lot of those blowdowns need to be suspended off the ground by a foot to as many feet as possible. Don’t fear, however, as the lynx will travel five miles or more feeding, from its denning area. It’s about hares, and hares are about a specific age of timber. How do you NOT get there if you logged? And how do you get there if you never log? Fire? Fire is random, and hares and lynx are transients. Do ya think NSO or any of the other iterations of Strix are not transients, as well? No logging. All mature forests. do we get the cascade of biological failures by design.? So Munchhausen Forestry is there to fix it up, and make it all better with our benign neglect and “let it burn” sloth. Or so it is said and believed. Tens of thousands of years of native burning, by experience and design, and here we are with cell phones, drones, and satellite images, and we can’t figure out how to have complexity and vigor in our forests? The smartest people I knew in the timber business only had one person who could defeat them: themselves. And often they did just that. Pogoesque, really. We are the enemy. All of us.

    True diversity comes from many people “doing their own thing.” Which is what private forestry should recognize. It, however, is state regulated, and is entered data in binary form with a preordained result as to having the most trees possible at all times. Levittown Forests. All made from uniform trees grown in uniform forests. And that from an environmental lobby favored by the Progressive Liberal Democrats who worship at the altar of “Diversity.” Fat chance, Dude. Digital Forestry: one size fits all. You want to see elk in Western Oregon? At dusk, find a grass field grown with laboratory bred grass seed, next to a dense second growth forest. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a warm place to rest in winter and a cool place in summer. The forage type grass is high tdn, palatability, protein, because it was bred to be just that. Agricultural elk. The forests have been sterilized for “good forestry” and the ungulates are using the only “edge” left, the forest interface farm fields. Do you think that was an intended consequence? As long as the trust puppy in St. Paul gets his or her REIT payments, who gives a tinker’s dam about any of it? And it has been that way since the second covered wagon arrived in the 1840s.

  10. Efforts to demonize Jim Furnish fall on deaf ears. Jim Furnish must be applauded for guiding the Siuslaw NF from the past to the future. The past was unsustainable clearcutting and road building on steep slopes with devastating impacts on streams, wildlife, wilderness, recreation, carbon storage, etc. The NWFP placed the vast majority of the Siuslaw NF into reserves to help recover threatened spotted owls, marbled murrelets and coho salmon. Furnish could have thrown up his hands and done nothing. Or he could have tried to continue clearcutting on the few remaining slivers of unreserved matrix lands, but instead he grew collaborative teams and embraced the need for active management of vast acreage of old clearcuts in the reserves. There is a huge job to do turning these vast monoculture tree farms back into diverse forests while reducing the footprint of the overbuilt road-system. Furnish’s succeeded in both getting the cut out and restoring forests and watersheds. The public has embraced Furnish’s model. The pattern of appeals and litigation largely ended on the Siuslaw. His success was emulated by three supervisors who followed him and on BLM and USFS districts across the moist portions of the PNW where dense plantations are common.

  11. The Siuslaw quit building sidecast roads in the 1960s. There is no engineer who can tell me, with a straight face, that he/she can take the road prism from a hillside, that is a full bench road, and “restore” it. First, where do you get the dirt without an excavation somewhere? How do you excavate without disturbing dirt? So what they do is build a tank trap to disallow any use of the road, and then the culverts go unattended forever. And the bank sloughs and windfalls block drainages, and the slides occur. All to placate well financed, tax forgiven NGOs doing the REIT’s work for them, and that work is to never have a public tree for sale in competition with REIT private trees. Denying access is one way to accomplish that goal.

    I ain’t “Bud”, but the above is a part of a proposal. Quit measuring forests by the trees. There are other land forms and issues as well that need attention. Or litigation and appeal.

    The Siuslaw grows more fuel per acre per year than any other forest except maybe the Olympic and parts of that are in a rain shadow. The history of the Siuslaw is that it will burn in very large stand removal fires at maybe 150 to 300 year intervals. With the current inability of the Siuslaw to get to a fire due to obliterated roads, coupled with a paucity of fire fighting equipment because they don’t have fires very often, any government fire suppression effort on that forest will be too little, too late.

    During the terms of Siuslaw Supervisors from Wakefield through Robertson, the Siuslaw sold “pre mortality salvage” sales which were essentially thinning 100+ year old stands. Take the trees that most likely would no longer be there in 50 years. Fast track creation of “old growth” forests. It was a way to accelerate the process of gaining large diameter trees in a shorter time period. The money kept the road system maintained, and people working. There were no regeneration costs. The same process could be used in other forests to deal with ladder fuels, ingrowth since the last fire disturbance. But when anything you try to do get appealed, litigated, the inertia to do nothing is powerful and a great disservice to the landscape, inholders, and boundary landscapes.

    I think it is a deception to report that the USFS regrowth management is their doing, alone. It is not. What they do is greatly directed by urban wants and perceptions. The West is the most urban area of the US. The vast majority live in cities. Wall to wall regrowth conifers is what the people in town want. They want to see successful reforestation. Personally, I would prefer logging the fringes of historical meadows and prairies, to remove the ingrowth and increase the variety and diversity of the forest itself, especially in the higher precipitation landscapes where the ability of trees to dominate was historically truncated by Indian burning regimes. We can to that with logging, and gain income. The result is that the meadow can expand to what it once was, with the tree cover on its edges removed. And, fewer trees will mean the meadows are wetter and home to many more species of plants and animals. Landscape management means just that.

    Or have “almost clear cuts” that have a very few leave trees, which in time will be the old growth. And then don’t plant what you logged. Burn the piled slash, leaving a few for small critter habitat, and a year later, underburn and let nature take its course. Fireweed, to native plants, and if a conifer grows, it is from the indigenous seed sources. That is a way to reintroduce diversity to the monoculture so demanded by the smart set in town, the ones with money who get the tax write offs for their gifts towards “preserving our national forest heritage.” But when you do nothing, and that is pretty much where we are, you get nothing for your effort as well. And, by “having no evidence of the hand of man”, the result is a denial of man’s existence which is a lie. We are here, and we got here, surviving as a species, by using the forests, the plains, the waters. “Wise use” is not “Don’t use at any cost.” That the Siuslaw does have an ongoing thinning program, is a good thing. But thinning in a windy area like the Oregon Coast has its drawbacks. And in the fog belt, where the “whitewood” species grow, any tree “skinned” when the sap is up will quickly rot at the wound. Publishers Paper got into a thinning program on their plantations, and found they lost more wood to wound rots than they gained in thinning it. Precommercial thinning will space trees and get the manager much better growth over 30 years. Then clear cut. Burn, don’t spray. Do not plant, and you get what you get: diversity. Is there is a “diversity” measure? You can measure conifer stems per acre by age. How do you measure “other species” occupation of some acres? Including meadows and prairies? Maybe the Siuslaw, and forests like it, need a meadow/prairie ten year measurement with a gain in total meadow/prairie area of ten percent or more. That would make “restoration forestry” much more meaningful, while recognizing diversity of habitat means diversity of species in a possibly warming period before the next Ice Age. The lost white butt bumble bee, having gone from abundance to maybe extinction in just two decades, was found last summer in an alpine meadow near Timberline Lodge. When we lose meadows, we also lose species. Indians created them. Now it is our turn.


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