“Ecological Forestry” As Regional Model?

Good piece on the Buck Rising sale in Oregon, one of the pilot sales designed under the “ecological forestry” pitched by Jerry Franklin and Norm Johnson. Having visited the sale and talked with the foresters who implemented the sale, My answer to the question posed by the article’s title is Yes. If timber management with a strong emphasis on creating and maintaining wildlife habitat won’t work (due to opposition from enviro groups), then nothing will. This is a battle that needs to be fought — it’s all or nothing.


Should A Controversial Oregon Timber Harvest Become Regional Model?

18 thoughts on ““Ecological Forestry” As Regional Model?”

  1. Hello Steve: Looks like you may have missed the opposition from local landowners when you just cited ‘opposition from enviro groups.’) It also seems to me that Frances Eatherington raised some good points.

    Pat Quinn is a local landowner and a volunteer with Umpqua Watersheds. He says nearby clearcuts by timber companies, along with those on Buck Rising, damage streams and degrade water quality.

    “I’m not saying the BLM shouldn’t do anything. I’m not saying this isn’t one possibility,” Quinn said. “But if you’re asking if this degrades the watershed, I have to say, ‘yes it does.'”….

    One of the strongest critics has been Frances Eatherington, conservation director of Cascadia Wildlands.

    According to Eatherington, early successional forests should benefit animal species including deer and elk, moths and butterflies, and it’s inconclusive whether those species will thrive on Buck Rising.

    Moreover, Eatherington says the Northwest has plenty of young forests, which grow after wildfires or timber harvests, but protections should be prioritized for older forests, which spotted owls and other listed species need.

    “We have bountiful young forests for the wildlife that depend on young forests,” Eatherington said. “We are hugely lacking in older forests for wildlife.”

    • Matt, I did not miss the comment by “Pat Quinn… a local landowner and a volunteer with Umpqua Watersheds.” Umpqua Watersheds has been critical of Buck Rising for some time. I would like to hear from other local landowners, too.

      What Eatherington said is countered by Franklin and Johnson, who say there is an acute shortage of high-quality early seral habitat in Western Oregon, and that the only place that such habitat is likely to be created/maintained is on federal land.

      • The only place to get high quality early seral is on federal land?? Wow, that sure let’s private industry off easy. They already create vast amounts of low quality early seral with their clearcutting and intensive tree farming, but they could cheaply and easily tweak their practices to vastly improve the quality of early seral habitat. In fact, Norm Johnson himself (before he came under the spell of Senator Wyden) gave a presentation explaining how: (1) retain more residual structure during harvest (more than the 2 trees per acre currently required in Oregon); (2) relax the free to grow requirement which would allow forest managers to plant at lower density and use less herbicides thus increasing non-conifer diversity during the first few years after harvest.

        The feds could also improve early seral habitat without sacrificing mature forest by, for instance, chaing the way it fights fire, stop salvage logging, perpetuate existing early seral in recovering harvest areas, and include structure-rich “gaps” when thinning dense young stands.

        To suggest that there is only one way to get high quality early seral habitat (by logging mature forests) is laughable.

        Furthermore, early seral wildlife are not at risk so why is this a policy priority? (A: because it aligns with the underlying goal of timber production).

        The NWFP said:

        The amount of early-successional forest on the landscape within the range of the northern spotted owl is probably greater now than at any time in the past. … Any species that find optimum habitat in burned forests must have had the dispersal and reproductive capabilities to find and reproduce in these dispersed and infrequent patches of habitat. In general, species associated with early-successional conditions are good dispersers, have high reproductive rates, and are able to persist in small patches of habitat that result from smallscale disturbance (Hunter 1990, Smith 1966). Raphael et al. (1988) estimated that in northern California about 13 percent of the land area (on average) was historically in brush or sapling condition. In contrast, about 50 percent of the land area is in that stage today.
        Compared to their historic populations, species associated with these earlysuccessional conditions have increased in abundance. For example, Raphael et al. (1988) estimated that populations of 11 species of birds have probably tripled over historic numbers, and another 4 species have more than doubled. Raphael et al. (1988) and Raphael (1988) compared the estimated abundance of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals from historic times to their present abundance and concluded that the early-successional associates that have increased over time were associated with more open, drier conditions; were widely distributed (larger total geographic ranges than species associated with late-successional conditions); and, had wider ecological tolerances (i.e., they occupy a greater variety of habitat types). As noted by Harris (1984), birds associated with early-successional forest are more often migrants whereas latesuccessional associates are generally permanent residents. These studies also show that whereas some species associated with early-successional conditions reach their maximum abundance in early-successional forest, none of the species were restricted to that successional stage.

        NWFP FEIS pp 3&4-203-204

        • 2ndLaw

          Re: “The only place to get high quality early seral is on federal land?? Wow, that sure let’s private industry off easy”
          –> Ok! We got your message a long time ago – You are the only one qualified to manage timberlands including private timberlands. Don’t count on my vote when you run for King. Until then private timberlands are private and you can’t dictate that they follow silvicultural practices that would force them into bankruptcy. They already follow ESA, BMPs and other environmentally related laws, what more do you want? Didn’t those with a mindset like yours do enough damage to jobs with the 80% reduction in NF harvest levels beginning in 1991?

          Re: “To suggest that there is only one way to get high quality early seral habitat (by logging mature forests) is laughable.”
          –> You really don’t care how much you twist other people’s words do you – If you will check, the statement was that early seral was the rarest (scarcest) forest type in the PNW currently. You really don’t need anyone to talk to you do you? You just put words in other peoples mouth and run with it. You’re a legend in your own mind- Have you ever taken a plant physiology, entomology, silviculture, ecology or other course related to understanding what makes a forest tick and what makes a forest sick? Stick with what you know – go find an ambulance to chase.
          –> You can be a slow learner. You still don’t understand that without a reasonably proportional representation of age classes you will have gaps created where your beloved Old Growth will die or burn out and it will be decades before the gap closes in that dispersion range – Doesn’t that seem to be rather counter productive to saving endangered species that depend on Old Growth? I guess not.

          Re: “The amount of early-successional forest on the landscape within the range of the northern spotted owl is probably greater now than at any time in the past”
          –> This really takes the cake – The use of the word “PROBABLY” means that the NWFP is guessing. Then the NWFP says “must have had” which is another code word for “I dunno”.

          Re: “Raphael et al. (1988) estimated that in northern California about 13 percent of the land area (on average) was historically in brush or sapling condition. In contrast, about 50 percent of the land area is in that stage today.” What part of “estimated” don’t you understand? What model time machine did they use? What was their sampling intensity, confidence interval at 95% and Standard Error in what years in history and what years “today”? Clue: “estimate” and “about” means “I dunno” and since ‘today’ was back in 1988 it has nothing to tell us about early seral “Today” in 2014. That’s what you don’t understand – Forests are dynamic – You seem to think that they can be frozen in time and put on a shelf in a museum like a Ming Vase – The 1990’s reduction in harvests means more Old Growth today but a gap in Old Growth in the future when succession can’t replace the fallen old growth. The damage to the NSO will be the least and populations more stable when there are relatively equal acreages in the various age classes in order to provide them with stable habitat acreages in their home range over the long term.

          Sorry to be so rough – but you asked for it by the tone of your comments.

          • I thought 2ndLaw’s comments were useful, and he didn’t feel compelled to attack other people on this forum and do a bunch of chest-pounding to make his point. Why not save the internet bully stuff for facebook or wherever, it greatly lowers your credibility here, at least among the grownups. Just a suggestion, -GK

            • GuyK

              If credibility is to be based on accepting falsehoods and demeaning attacks – then I really don’t think that the grownups are very grownup and am not too concerned about achieving credibility with them nor submitting to their not so subtle efforts at using peer pressure to control those that disagree with them.

    • MatthewK (SteveW – please lend your on the ground observations and opinion to my item #3)

      1) You can believe Eatherington’s misinformation, speculation and wishful thinking if you want.

      OR you could check the upper left hand corner of page 6 of the June 2013 Forestry Source as mentioned and linked to in multiple previous comments on this site. If you do check the Forestry Source, you will note that Stokely et al plainly state: “Early-seral habitats are now the scarcest forest type in the Pacific Northwest”.

      OR you can check the on-line, public access, FIA (Forest Inventory and Analysis) data base and see if you can quantitatively document that the authors are wrong. You can even check for the counties involved at a specific landscape level.

      2) Re: “Pat Quinn is a local landowner and a volunteer with Umpqua Watersheds. He says nearby clearcuts by timber companies, along with those on Buck Rising, damage streams and degrade water quality.”
      —> Can you get more facts from Pat Quinn that quantitatively document those statements? To make a fair evaluation of the validity of these statements and insure that they aren’t just hot air like Eatherington’s statements in #1 above we would need pictures of significant stream damage as well as records as to the frequency and duration, downstream distance of degradation before settling out, inches of rain prior to a sample of degradations, parts per million of sediment at various down stream points, years since the clearcut, its current vegetation and other things that I probably don’t know anything about. If a problem was confirmed, we would also need to know if Best Management Practices were followed and how well they were followed in order to know if the problem was with the Best Management Practices in order to revise them or was the problem due to irresponsible actions by the land owner and or the logger.

      3) The photos that you linked to that I saw of the earth slides and soil runoff on ?? Buck Rising ?? suggest that Franklin and ?Johnson? should have paid a little more attention to the potential soil & hydraulic interactions and left their trees as a buffer above and below the road cut and especially at drainage convergence points rather than as abutments to the adjacent stand.

      • Gil, I visited the harvest unit in which the slide occurred this spring. As slides go, it was small – 40 feet across, maybe. Of course, no one wants a slide of any size. I and the others on the tour noted at least one older slide about the same size, a chain and a half away (to use an old measurement unit), that had occurred many years before the harvesting. So, one of the slides was not related to harvesting, and the other one MAY have been. But as I recall, the newer slide occurred after unusually heavy rains, and several of the foresters on the tour were of the opinion that it likely would have slid with or without the harvesting.

        • SteveW

          Thanks – Yea! I am old so I know what a chain is and its utility on the ground. I also remember “throwing a chain” and trying to patch a broken chain in the woods with a kit and match. 🙁

          • Throwing a chain . . . you bring back fond memories of my college years spent working in the forest engineering shop throwing and repairing chains that students had mangled. After a few months, I could throw a double chain, too. Strong wrists back then.

            • AndyS

              Seems to me my only memory of a double chain was “throwing” it away because my boss said it was a worthless, evil contraption that broke continuously. 🙂

              • Andy, Gil,

                Can’t remember the last time I threw a chain. Back in the 80s, I guess. I do remember pulling chains through nasty brush on the El Dorado and Tahoe, and using the field repair kits, too. FWIW, forestry students at Mt. Hood Community College still use chains (once or twice, if only so they have a better appreciation for laser rangefinders) and learn about measurement with chains. Test question: There are ____ square chains in an acre…..

                • SteveW

                  You must be going soft in your old age, asking easy questions like that – 10 it is – the beauty of the chain unit of measure is that in the township land record management system is that you only have to move the decimal point one unit to the left and you have converted sq. chains to acres.

                  Yes, 43,560sq ft is drilled into my head also but chains sure make life a lot easier.

                  1) What conversion factor does 0.005454154 apply to?
                  2) In Louisiana, how many sections can you have in a township?

                  • 1. Computing BA in feet2 from inches2.

                    2. Well, you can have more or fewer than 36 in any state that uses township and range coordinates, depending on the need for adjustments to odd townships. But this must be a trick question. Answer: None.

                    • SteveW

                      I had a new ABD employee who lost faith in me when I told him he was wrong and 36 wasn’t the right answer. 🙂 I’ve seen as many as 140 and heard that they can go into the 3 or 4 hundreds but I can’t verify that. Seems that meandering rivers in the days prior to Corps of Engineers, kind of messed things up.

  2. Here’s a longer article on the same topic:

    An excerpt with quotes from Franklin and Johnson:

    Franklin said he believes Buck Rising confirms the logging principles are “in the right ballpark.”

    “You are going to have to tweak these activities in different kinds of forest,” he said. “But as far as the forestry and ecological side of it is concerned, we are pretty much on target.”

    Not everyone would agree, the professors said.

    “We went from being heros because the environmental community dearly loved what we have done over the years. … The minute we deviated from their agenda, all of a sudden we are no longer intelligent, no longer have expertise and no longer have ethics,” Franklin said. “It is unpleasant and somewhat unfamiliar, but we have been vilified before by the timber industry. People have tried to get us fired. It’s just unfortunate.”

    Johnson agreed.

    “It’s one thing to question our expertise, it’s another thing to question your integrity, and there’s no doubt that the attacks on us have crossed the lines, especially when the attacks include the people who work with us,” he said. “It’s not very easy to have folks ask people you work with, ‘Why do you work with such an evil person?’”

  3. The Franklin-Johnson sale in the Coos Bay BLM district is still under appeal by Francis and her gang at Cascadian Wildlands. Pat Quinn has his opinion as do the rest of us, it really carries no more wait than anybody’s. I don’t believe he likes any timber harvesting on public lands.
    I think the private companies in our area have had much greater impact to our watersheds that any small amount of timber harvesting that has taken place on public lands. I think also, in my opinion, that all theses land will recover. I am just disappointed to see them all going into Douglas fir plantations.
    I did the tour of the propose timber sale in our area. The environmental community seemed to be upset anytime a large tree is proposed to be harvested, no matter what the circumstances.
    I think that one of the key elements of any timber sale has been lost to all this planning. Does anyone ever ask, who going to buy these sales and what kind timber do they need? Does anyone ever ask, what mills are in our area and what kind of wood do they need? Does any every ask, how will this timber sale help the local economy. Who is going to benefit from this timber sale? It is always, don’t cut the big tree, cut these small ones, is this helping forest health? We need a mixed up timber sale program if we are ever going to have healthy forests and healthy communities. One size does not fit all.
    Public land timber sales and all proposed public forest projects should be planned to benefit the forests and people in the communities surrounding these forests. Public land timber sales need to be smaller than they currently are so more people can participate. (BLM just had a fire salvage timber sale out of the Douglas complex of last year, it was 15 million board feet, there was only one bidder, bought at minimum bid. BLM refused to break it up into smaller sales so that more people could have access to this resource.) Proposed forest projects need to be well advertised to the local community and the bid process made easy.


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