New Forest Service Data: Spotted Owls Living in Rim Fire Area Slated for Massive Logging Project

Source: Here.

SAN FRANCISCO New data from California’s Rim fire area shows there are at least 37 occupied owl territories in burned forest that the U.S. Forest Service wants to substantially cut as part of a post-fire logging project. Government surveys conducted this spring and summer in the Stanislaus National Forest, where last year’s Rim fire burned, found 33 owl pairs as well as six single owls. The majority are in the area where the agency has proposed to cut more than 600 million board feet of timber.

In a letter today the Wild Nature Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and the John Muir Project told the Forest Service that the owl detection rates in the Rim fire area indicate that spotted owls are using burned forest at rates that are significantly greater than their use of unburned forests in the Sierras.

“I’m not surprised that so many spotted owls are living in the Rim fire area,” said Monica Bond, principal scientist for the Wild Nature Institute. “Recent science and survey results like those from the Rim fire are repudiating the old, outdated assumption that fire is bad for owls. Logging has always been the real danger to spotted owls, not fire.”

Forest Service managers have long assumed that fire is the most prominent threat to spotted owls, but current scientific evidence shows these rare birds of prey not only use severely burned forests but prefer it when searching for food.

Burned forests that are adjacent or near to owl sites — such as nests or roosting areas — can be critical to owl survival; published literature has determined that in post-fire landscapes such as the Rim fire area, salvage logging should be prohibited within about a mile of owl sites. The Rim fire logging project has not incorporated such protection for owls despite the exceptional number of owls in the area, and despite the recent published findings showing that spotted owls are in serious decline on Forest Service and private lands in the Sierras.

“The Rim fire area is teeming with wildlife that thrives in burned forests, including these spotted owls living right in the same forests the government wants to cut down,” said Justin Augustine with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope the Forest Service heeds the new data and drastically changes its approach so these owls get the protections they need and deserve.”

Spotted owls are not the only forest animals that use burned areas. Species like woodpeckers, bluebirds, deer and bats flourish in post-fire forests. As explained in a recent scientific publication, intense fire in mature forest creates one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically important forest habitat types in the Sierras.

“If the Forest Service continues with its plans to log the Rim fire area, the many owls residing in the post-fire forest mosaic will be harmed,” said research ecologist Dr. Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project. “And let’s not forget that the Forest Service has a conflict of interest because it sells the burned trees to private commercial logging corporations and keeps the profits to enhance its budget.”

The Forest Service proposal in the Rim fire area is one of the largest industrial logging projects in the history of the national forest system. Much of the logging would be concentrated in occupied spotted owl territories. The Forest Service’s final decision on the project is expected to be released on Aug. 28.


81 thoughts on “New Forest Service Data: Spotted Owls Living in Rim Fire Area Slated for Massive Logging Project”


    This article is so full of bullpucky that I don’t know where to begin. If I had wanted to write a parody article, it might read a lot like this one!

    600,000,000 board feet of salvage would mean that each and every acre of the 30,000 acres in the project area would need to have 20,000 board feet of salvage per acre. Even in the 40 year old plantations where the biggest tree nets about 200 board feet. Remember, most of the Forest Service portion of the Rim Fire is re-burn.

    Regarding the owls, the presence of owls in a given piece of National Forest land means absolutely nothing, as nearly EACH and EVERY acre of the Stanislaus below 7000 feet gets visits from spotted owls all the time! Again, either Hanson is showing his ignorance of spotted owl biology, or he is withholding those facts on purpose. I suspect the latter, and for what reason, I will leave that up to you folks. The scientific facts say that owls do NOT nest in dead forests. PERIOD! “Occupation” does not equal “gestation”.

    (And yes, the article is well-populated with other dubious and unsupported “facts”.)

  2. 20,000 feet per acre yield? Where the heck did THAT number come from?

    Better to have it jackstraw and reburn into manzanita or something.

    Not about the owls, is it?

    • From the article, it mentions 600,000,000 board feet, and the salvage proposal totals almost 30,000 acres, so the math comes up with 20,000 board feet for every acre, *smirk*. And, by which parameter are they judging this project to be “one of the largest industrial logging projects in the history of the national forest system”????? I’m going to be on the lookout for places this drivel has been publicized, looking for the extreme comments that are sure to follow. We NEED to use this “propaganda” against the serial litigators, who will continue to isolate themselves from the rest of the people concerned about American forests. I certainly hope that the Forest Service and the DOJ are looking at these claims, to refute them in Appeals Court, where this project is destined to end up.

  3. The Forest Service is the source of the timber volume data cited by CBD in its press release: “If the entire 661 million board feet (MMBF) contemplated by the Forest Service under Alternative 1 can be sold and harvested, then 4,230 annual jobs could be supported in the two county area over a period of two to three years (at 6.4 direct jobs / MMBF). ” Source: RIM Recovery DEIS at page 193.

    • Well, I did leave out the 6000 roadside hazard tree acres. That would bring down the average, some. I’m still skeptical of that volume figure, unless they are including a large “fudge-factor” to account for the expected mortality beyond what is already devoid of green. And, of course, such volume over-estimates never happen, in this advanced technological world, do they? *smirk*

      I read the scientific details that the CBD provides in their statements. They claim there is a difference in foraging habitats when burns are salvaged, or not. The fact is that they use SPI clearcuts as much as they use unsalvaged burns, for foraging habitat. What they do like in foraging habitat is “edge effect”. Snags are only valuable to them in roosting, while waiting for prey to appear. It is NOT “critical” to their survival. Remember, actual nests in nesting habitat in green forests are the main factor in spotted owl survival. They NEED a system of nests, which offer shaded protection from bigger predators.

      Let’s hope that the Appeals Court Judges can be educated about the ACTUAL science of spotted owls, instead of assumptions and purposely incomplete analysis.

    • From the news release:

      Among the actions called for in the proposed plan:

      • Salvaging dead and heavily damaged trees from 15,377 acres in the burn area for fuels reduction. The report notes that could yield 210 million board-feet of timber.

      • Removing hazardous trees from about 17,706 acres of land adjacent to 325 miles of Forest Service roads.

      • Building 6 miles of new temporary roads, reconstructing 315 miles of damaged road and maintaining an additional 209 miles of road in the forest.

      • Rehabilitating 4,087 acres of deer winter-range land deemed “critical.”

      Salvage logging — the most-watched aspect of the highly anticipated decision — is expected to occur over two seasons and could begin as early as this fall.

      The roadside tree removal, biohazard removal would take place over about five years.

  4. Let’s see if I understand. We can not log “old-growth” because that is necessary for spotted owl survival. But, it is perfectly okay if it burns because the owl uses, in fact, prefers, the burned forest.

    Who else would the Forest Service sell the burned trees if not “to private commercial logging corporations”? (An anti-private business bias, perhaps?) The Forest Service makes a profit – should a government agency (and the taxpayer) be so lucky!

    • Actually, it is the claim of a New Hampshire wildlife person and an ecologist (who desires an end to ALL timber sales) that owls will die without burned snags. It is the Forest Service Wildlife Biologists who claim that owls use burned and salvaged areas as foraging habitats. They mitigate impacts by requiring ample snags, often of two sizes, saved within cutting units, outside of cutting units and outside of project areas. Simply put, there are ample snags left on the land, after Forest Service projects are completed. The Forest Service puts those “captured” funds back into the land. Yes, impacts from wildfires extend far beyond the fire’s perimeter. It’s not like they are pocketing the cash and buying swimming pools. *smirk*

  5. a few things out there….
    Northern spotted owls generally inhabit older forested habitats because they contain the structural characteristics required for nesting, roosting, and foraging. Specifically, northern spotted owls require a multi-layered, multi-species canopy with moderate to high canopy closure. The stands typically contain a high incidence of trees with large cavities and other types of deformities; large snags (standing dead trees); an abundance of large, dead wood on the ground; and open space within and below the upper canopy for spotted owls to fly. Recent landscape-level analyses suggest that in some parts of the subspecies’ range a mosaic of older forest habitat interspersed with other vegetation types may benefit northern spotted owls more than large, homogeneous expanses of older forests. In redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests along the coast range of California, northern spotted owls may be found in younger forest stands that contain structural characteristics of older forests.

    73 Fed. Reg. 47326 (Wednesday, August 13, 2008)(DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; 50 CFR Part 17; WS-R1-ES-2008–0051; 92210-1117-0000-FY08-B4 RIN 1018-AU37; Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revised Designation of Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl; Final rule).
    EXCERPT RE: BIOLOGICAL NEEDS AND PRIMARY CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS: As required by 50 CFR 424.12(b), we are to list the known PCEs with our description of critical habitat. The PCEs may include, but are not limited to, the following: roost sites, nesting grounds, spawning sites, feeding sites, seasonal wetland or dryland, water quality or quantity, host species or plant pollinator, geological formation, vegetation type, tide, and specific soil types. Space for Population Growth and for Normal Behavior. Northern spotted owls remain on their home range throughout the year; therefore this area must provide all the habitat components and prey needed to provide for the survival and successful reproduction of a territorial pair. Sites for Breeding, Reproduction, and Rearing of Offspring (Nesting). Nesting habitat provides structural features for nesting, protection from adverse weather conditions, and cover to reduce predation risks for adults and young. Nesting stands typically include a moderate to high canopy closure (60 to 80 percent); a multi-layered, multispecies canopy with large (greater than 30 inches (in) (76 centimeters (cm)) diameter at breast height (dbh)) overstory trees; a high incidence of large trees with various deformities (e.g., large cavities, broken tops, mistletoe infections, and other evidence of decadence); large snags; large accumulations of fallen trees and other woody debris on the ground; and sufficient open space below the canopy for northern spotted owls to fly. Cover or Shelter (Roosting). The primary functions of roosting habitat are to facilitate thermoregulation in summer and winter, shelter northern spotted owls from precipitation, and provide cover to reduce predation risk while resting or foraging… The characteristics of roosting habitat differ from those of nesting habitat only in that roosting habitat need not contain the specific structural features used for nesting. Food or Other Nutritional or Physiological Requirements (Foraging). The primary function of foraging habitat is to provide a food supply for survival and reproduction. Foraging activity is positively associated with tree height diversity… canopy closure… snag volume… and density of snags…
    The Biscuit, Quartz and Timbered Rock wildfires burned through over eighty known Northern spotted owl territories during the summers of 2001 and 2002… Radio-transmitter devices were placed on spotted owls during the fall of 2004 to identify patterns for drawing conclusions with data still being gathered. A total of 21owls were observed in and around the fire boundaries. The behavior of owl pairs is included in the mix. Between 2002 and 2006 Clark conducted annual demographic surveys within fire boundaries, at their partially burned edges and in unburned areas. Radio telemetry study took place from 2004 to 2006. Surveys were a collaborative effort between the Oregon Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and private timber companies.

    Although overall occupancy dropped following all three fires, results indicate that spotted owls continue to occupy areas burned with low- to moderate-severity, as well as areas that partially burned with high-severity. Owls utilized areas near edges (the interface of green and dead
    trees) suggesting that habitat created by mixed-severity fire mosaics provide benefi ts to spotted owls in this forest type

    Owls were observed nesting, roosting and foraging within a wide range of habitats and fire severity—including patches that burned with high-severity. In areas where pre-fire roosting and foraging habitat burned severely, owls roosted and foraged again after fire—but it’s not known if these birds were the same individuals that frequented the area before. Burned areas that had been clear-cut salvaged logged were avoided. No owls were observed nesting in severely burned patches in nesting cores. In areas of mixedseverity fire, nesting only occurred in sites that burned with low or moderate-severity. Several owl pairs that had only small patches of high-severity fire within their nesting core continued to occupy their territories. In territories where fire severity was mixed and some large trees remained standing, owls established new nest trees if the historic nest tree was consumed by high-severity fire. The reproductive rate of remaining pairs was similar to that of pairs in unburned landscapes, but wildfire reduced overall reproductive output because after fire there were fewer pairs.

    Although owls used high-severity burns within mixedseverity mosaics, large scale stand-replacing events were detrimental overall to spotted owl populations, at least in the short term. High-severity fire contributed to declines in spotted owl occupancy where large amounts of the territory were consumed. Large expanses of high-severity fire (1 to 1.5 sq. miles) were not occupied by owls. Clark thinks that the birds are not likely capable of persisting in large areas of complete stand replacement because most of the critical habitat features required by spotted owls no longer exist.

    Results suggest that outside of large-scale stand-replacing events, wildfire is not likely a major threat to the persistence of spotted owls in this forest type—even though there are numerous negative short term impacts. Survival and occupancy rates declined after fire in two study areas. However some remaining owls used areas that burned with a broad range of severity for roosting, foraging and nesting. Several owl pairs successfully produced young following fire. Owls avoided burned areas where clear cut salvage logging had taken place. Results indicate that low-severity prescribed fire may be used to help reduce fire hazard in dry forest ecosystems occupied by spotted owls. This project provides the fi rst concrete guidelines for fuels reduction in spotted owl territories in southwestern Oregon.

    • One other thing that is often overlooked is that owls (and goshawks) are territorial, and compete for nesting habitats. Another issue rarely covered is that there is little prey for owls in their nesting habitats. Yes, they have to leave their nest stands in order to eat and gather food for their young. Key damage to the owls livelihood is their actual nest trees. If those are burned, then there is major damage to their “sustainability”. If you have ever seen a used owl or goshawk nest, you would know that it will be unusable for several years, as the bird crap decays and washes away.

      “Owls avoided burned areas where clear cut salvage logging had taken place.” Well, then, it’s a good thing that the Forest Service doesn’t clearcut in salvage logging, eh?

      We’ve seen stand-destroying fires in the Sierra Nevada, and owls won’t be nesting in those places for the next century. Indeed, 40 years of “recovering brushfields” are now back to “square one”. If no trees grow back, there will be no owls. There is no snag benefit to owls, other than for roosting, and ample snags are left for that. Same for the blackbacked woodpecker.

    • The entire issue with NSO is “security cover.” They are predated upon by great horned owls, and now barred owls seeking to establish nesting and rearing habitats. Of course, the best habitats are used by NSO and barred owl competition for those habitats is now intense.

      The issue with owls always has been security and food. Food is mostly small rodents, and to have mice, voles, and wood rats, those critters need a food supply and security cover as well. That is why the NSO does so well on mixed conifer/oak hardwood forests, and feeds in disturbed areas. The long lasting nuts provide a year around food source for their prey base. Regrowth from disturbance provides food and opportunity for the prey base as well. When you add that to security cover, the NSO will be there if not displaced by barred owls.

      Simpson Timber in NorCal has 300,000 acres of NSO abundance, AND a permit to shoot barred owls. Go figure. Managed timber and managed NSO predators/displacers. All permitted by government with full compliance with ESA and CA logging permit process. At some point in time, the whole of NSO science is going to have to recognize that Simpson has more owls and cuts more timber than government, and those stats will show up in depositions and court proceedings.

      The nature of redwood regrowth in the Coast Range is the new trees springing from the roots of the redwood tree cut for timber. So the circle of large diameter, 50 year old redwoods, forms a dense clump of large trees that give the owls security cover. And so does a grove of dense understory oaks. Perhaps the redwood regrowth is and has been an epicenter of NSO population density. Awareness of NSO is not that old, not that studied. So assumptions are mostly what we have to go on as to past vegetative response and their survival over time since the last ice age. Maybe NSO is merely an outpost, pioneer population of Mexican spotted owl outmigration following ice ages. And when the ice returns, the core population is in the Sonoran deserts that will perhaps be more wet, more vegetated. Who knows today?

      I read recently that global climate change, to warmer, is resulting in less species diversity due to many fewer micro climate areas with life that is adapted to those niches. That explains barred owls in NSO habitats to a degree. The one “fact” that interested me was the statement that brown bears on Chicagoff and Admiralty Islands in SE Alaska, Tongass NF, had more polar bear dna than grizzly bear dna. It’s a long way to sea ice from those two islands located in the marine rainforest of SE Alaska. And a short way to glaciers leading to the north and the interior. Stranded, isolated dna. And that might be the NSO case to some extent. The owl might have pioneered as far north as it might, and forest disturbance and prey availability just diminish to the point that the NSO needs vast foraging territory to survive, and barely at that. And then you get into the Del Norte and Humboldt county areas of NorCal, with Siskiyou igneous geology, mineralization, and spaced trees and a large variety of nut producing trees, a diverse plant community, a robust rodent population, trees from the largest on earth to small, geology caused openings, edge effect, aspect limiting tree occupation, and the owls flourish.

      Owls can be all over the Rim Fire area today, and in a few years as the ground cover increases, and delayed mortality claims the green trees of today, the void between the fire and mature conifers is going to be long enough that the owl will not be there if security cover and food is not available in amounts and areas that provide for owls. Temperature is important, both cool in summer and warm places in winter. A place to forage where great horned owls are not going to kill every NSO. Areas where barred owls are not present. A burn, a large burn, and one where the Hot Shot crews spent lots of time “burning out unburned areas of fuel”, is not going to be NSO habitat for a century or more. The Rim was not a benign underburn, nor a frequent fine fuels low intensity fire. Stand replacement means just that. Owls are not going to be there in numbers, and even an ass like the law will recognize that at some point in time if there is peer reviewed science to make that assumption. And when, if, the habitat, security cover, prey base, is there, the owls will be there. Even serial litigators won’t be able to bring them back or keep them away.

      I am quite confident the USFS, “the Feds”, and private land owners, will in time provide the habitat if given the chance. This polaroid snap shot litigation deal is not helping that renewal process which is steeped in time and lots of it. The career length of a lawyer and the time to grow NSO needed trees are nowhere close to being equal. Trees need a lot more time. We really do need to let that happen, and if possible, make it happen faster if that is wise for the habitat and society.

      Or ask ourselves in the fashion of Kat Anderson, how did over 600 distinct groups of pre Columbian humans manage it so successfully?

  6. Larry, it appears as if the trouble you are having with this issue, as with others you and some of your colleagues have argued about in the past here, is the need to win.

    Instead of acknowledging the fact that you were wrong in your accusations about CDB’s board feet number (it was a USFS # as Andy pointed out to you), your approach was to continue your tirade against the organization with claims of your own that have no merit. Spotted owls do not use SPI clearcuts as much as they do unsalvaged burns. Where did that come from? You might want to read the comprehensive study posted by Guy above, then reconsider what the essence of arguing is all about – learning.

    There is merit, Larry, in acknowledging mistakes and that fact that others who you disagree with can be right.

    The below snip from an article by Dylan Tweed in the September 2103 issue of The Chaparralian may be helpful:

    “Argumentation should not be adversarial. The purpose of open discussion is to hash out ideas in order to shape our opinions in light of new facts, not to defend our opinions despite new facts. Upon further reflection, I have come to realize that thinking of argumentation as war is not only wrong, but also a bit backwards. Think for a moment about the winner and the loser in the traditional “argumentation as war” disagreement. The winner walks away with the satisfaction of winning while the loser, on the other hand (assuming she or he concedes the winner’s claim, however unwillingly), walks away with something much more valuable: new knowledge. Even though this is the case, we still see losing an argument as the worst possible outcome. Wrong again.

    Since arguing ideas is, by nature, an intellectual enterprise, when it comes to gaining intellectual ground, the loser of an argument is actually the only one who wins.

    I discussed only one logical misstep (the ad hominem argument), but there are dozens of others of which every discerning consumer of information should be aware. And as important as – or more important than – distinguishing between logical and illogical arguments is the realization that disagreement is not war. Ideas are not personal, and we cannot defend ideas that have been proven wrong just because we are fond of them. In order for disagreements to be productive, each party involved has to admit that she or he could be wrong and to keep an open mind. Disagreement is an opportunity to consider why we think the things we think. It is an opportunity to discuss with those who disagree with us ideas that are important to us. It is an opportunity to get a little bit closer to the truth.”

    • You just MIGHT notice that Guy’s evidence is from the NORTHERN Spotted Owl, and the forests they live in have different conditions, species, densities, fire intensities, etc, etc, etc. Regarding the volume figures, I merely questioned their accuracy, and I stand on my decades of experience in this area, skepticism and arithmetic. Around half of the salvage acreage is in 40 year old plantations. There has been no cruise of the project’s units and the volume figures have been “modeled”.

      I place my trust in the Agency Wildlife Biologists, who are, clearly, not corrupt or “tainted”. The science around burned owl territories has not changed, and the stuff presented by the CBD doesn’t address actual nests and actual foraging areas. Owls eat mostly mice, and any open area with mice in it is “foraging habitat”. By definition, closed-canopy forests don’t have much “forage”, for an owl. So, we can be assured that it would take some time for mice to return to areas with high burn intensity and high tree mortality And, last I heard, mice don’t use standing snags.

      Finally, if severe salvage logging has impacted owls (and woodpeckers), then why aren’t they all dead, now, after the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? The Forest Service has mitigated these birds issues, in the last 25 years.

      (And, speaking of argument etiquette, most of us use our real names, instead of multiple aliases and nicknames that hint at “sock-puppetry”.)

  7. Larry, look at your original comments about the Center’s data. I don’t think you “merely questioned their accuracy.” You laced your comments with ridicule and hyperbole. You should be able to recognize that. If your intent is to engage in a productive discussion with the intent of helping others understand, that’s not the way to do it. All that you are accomplishing with the style of commentary you are using is to rally the base emotions of those who already agree with you while turning away anyone who has an interest in an objective discussion.

    And while there is certainly a place for “decades of experience,” the momentum of past experience is what often prevents needed change from environmental policy to civil rights. Hence the need for science and the courts. Speaking of which, the court will not be looking at the content of press releases when it comes to evaluating the merits of a case filed to resolve land management issues.

    • Since Hanson and his gang are in favor of stopping and even banning salvage projects, it is important to attack their reasonings, which go against established science that has already been supported in District Court. Deference to Agency science, and all. It’s not like the Forest Service intends to salvage green trees in current nesting habitats. The Forest has a known collection of actual nest sites, and I am very sure that each of them in the fire’s perimeter were checked for existence, if destruction wasn’t verified by aerial photos. Their press release reveals the court strategy, which has failed two times out of two, so far. Regarding the volume figures, yes, it was amusing to me to do the simple math and come up with a volume per acre, while still pointing out the plantation acreage. Something doesn’t “add up”. *smirk*

      Very little of “past activities” are happening out on the Rim Fire. More snags than ever are being solely set aside for the creatures that need them. Even SPI has changed their style of salvage logging, for the better. Reforestation for both ownerships will not be a traditional spacing. The serial litigators aren’t seeing the changes, trying to paint this as the “same ol thing”. What about that 40,000 acres of old growth kill, in Yosemite National Park? Doesn’t that count for mitigation within the Rim Fire? What about all that habitat, strictly protective from even beneficial activities? What about the other 200,000 acres of untouched Rim Fire? What about the eco-groups who support the salvage project? What about the local Sierra Club Chapter supporting it but being quashed by the National leadership?

      • Larry, please provide the references that show salvage logging is a benefit to ecological restoration. I don’t know where you are finding your science, but the actual science is quite clear on salvage logging – it is an ecological disaster.

        Regarding Dr. Hanson’s court strategy, you are wrong on that count as well. Where do you come up with the kinds of things you say? Hanson and CBD have successfully sued the Forest Service multiple times to stop salvage logging projects. The 2008 American River Complex Fire on the Tahoe National Forest is just one example. It may be helpful for you to visit the fire area. There is significant conifer regeneration under the standing snags… and amazingly, the conifer saplings are thriving right next to significant numbers of shrubs, or what you like to demonize as “brushfields.”

        • Well, you may not have seen the recent losses in court against salvage logging projects. There is no doubt that they are using their “new science” argument to stop a thinning of snags in burned areas. However, it is not unexpected that they would lose in District Court, where they often lose. Of course, they have better success in the liberal-leaning Appeals Court.

          My onsite experience with the Rim Fire has shown me that the bearclover has already returned, and the manzanita has “stump-sprouted” as well. We are at a crossroads, and we know where the “let nature take its course” will go. The fact that lands under that mindset were 40 year old brushfields, which burned at moderate to high intensities shows that doing nothing is the WRONG way to go. I saw those brushfields in person, full of manzanita, whitethorn and hidden logs, when I worked their in 2000.

          AND, how about the severe loss of old growth in Yosemite National Park?!? In Google Maps “flyovers”, I’ve seen substantial fire intensity and old growth mortality in those views.

          • Larry, references?

            Yes, manzanita and other early successional species are found in post-fire forest environments. As are, eventually, sapling conifers. This is how forests recover naturally. Although I am sure you believe your observations are accurate, it would be helpful if you could actually provide some objective, published research that has shown large areas of forests burned at moderate to high intensities remain treeless and in their early successional stage for 40 years plus.

            Flyovers with Google Maps are not accurate measures of what is actually happening on the ground.

            • I walked through and around those 40 year old brushfields. Yes, they do EXIST and need no references. Yes, they are visible in Google Maps. Yes, they did burn at moderate to high intensity, according to BAER maps and aerial photos. The manzanita and whitethorn prevented pines from taking hold for those 40 years of us doing nothing. It happened. I was there. It happened, verified by actual aerial photos. It happened, and we want to study it. It happened, and we want to prevent it, in the future. With only 30,000 acres of Forest Service salvage, there will be plenty of snags and brush in the rest of the 200,000 acres. Have you actually looked at the post-fire Google Maps images? You can sure tell that vast amounts of Yosemite old growth is now dead. Today’s land management practices seek to restore long-lived forests, instead of “whatever happens”. We have adjusted and adapted to the failures to preservationism, which I am pointing out, in a site specific way.

              Why must we revisit those failures??

              • Larry, personal opinions are subjective. This is why actual land management decisions should be based on science, which examines ALL the burned forests and documents ALL the impacts… not just one man’s personal experiences. Again, your observations are important, but they are subject to your own biases.

                Show us the research that confirms what you are saying. I haven’t been able to find it myself.

                    • Here is a list of scientists who worked on this project:

                      Interdisciplinary Team
                      Marcie Baumbach
                      Education: A.A. General Education, Chabot College, 2000; B.S. Wildlife Management, Humboldt State
                      University, 2003
                      Experience: Wildlife Biologist, Stanislaus National Forest 6 years; Wildlife Biologist, Bureau of Land
                      Management 2 years; Wildlife Technician, Bureau of Land Management 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Wildlife Biologist

                      Maria Benech
                      Education: A.A. General Education, Modesto Junior College, 1984; B.S. Natural Resources Management
                      (Watershed Concentration), California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, 1987
                      Experience: Resource Management Program Area Leader, Stanislaus National Forest 15 years; Forester,
                      Stanislaus National Forest 9 years; Forester, Shasta-Trinity National Forest 2 years
                      Team Responsibility: ID Team Leader

                      Chris Bielecki
                      Education: B.S. Forest Production, Humboldt State University, 2002; M.F. Forest Engineering, Oregon
                      State University, 2004
                      Experience: Logging Engineer, TEAMS Enterprise Unit, Forest Service 4 years; Assistant Forest
                      Engineer, Lassen National Forest 3 years; Forest Transportation Planner, Apache-Sitgreaves
                      National Forests 3 years; Research Engineering Technician, Southern Research Station, Forest
                      Service 1 year; Trail Crew Leader, Sierra National Forest 4 years.
                      Team Responsibility: Transportation Engineer

                      Matthew Bokach
                      Education: B.S., Biology and Chemistry, Adrian College, 1994; M.S. Interdisciplinary Ecology,
                      University of Florida, 2005
                      Experience: Ecologist, State and Private Forestry, Region 5 Forest Service 4 years; NRIS Technical
                      Specialist, Region 5 Forest Service 5 years
                      Team Responsibility: Wild and Scenic Rivers

                      Kenneth C. Boucher Jr.
                      Education: Biological Sciences Certificate, University of Las Vegas, 2007
                      Experience: Fuels Planner, South Fork Management Unit Shasta-Trinity National Forest 23 years
                      Team Responsibility: Fire and Fuels

                      Roger Brown
                      Education: B.S. Forestry, Humboldt State University, 2004
                      Experience: Forester, Eldorado National Forest 5 years
                      Team Responsibility: Forester

                      Scott T. Cones
                      Experience: Assistant District Fire Management Officer (Fuels), Stanislaus National Forest 14 years
                      Team Responsibility: Fire and Fuels

                      Laura Conway
                      Education: B.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, University of California, Davis, 1989
                      Experience: Forest Biologist, Lewis and Clark National Forest 9 years; Wildlife, Fish and Botany
                      Program Coordinator, Stanislaus National Forest 4 years; Forest Aquatic Biologist, Stanislaus
                      National Forest 7 years; Assistant District Wildlife Biologist, Stanislaus National Forest 2 years;
                      Wildlife Biologist, Eldorado National Forest 1 year; Biological Technician, Modoc National
                      Forest 2 years
                      Team Responsibility: Aquatic Biologist

                      Dawn Coultrap
                      Education: B.S. Rangeland Resource Science (Botany minor), CSU Humboldt, 2005; M.S. Natural
                      Resources Sciences (Rangeland Resources and Wildland Soils emphasis), CSU Humboldt, 2007
                      Experience: Rangeland Management Specialist, Stanislaus National Forest 3 years; Staff Biologist,
                      Integrated Environmental Services 1 year; Junior Specialist, UC Davis Plant Sciences 5 years;
                      Biological Technician, Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Rangeland Management Specialist

                      Lisa Dehart
                      Education: B.A. Anthropology with a concentration in prehistoric archaeology, California State
                      University, Stanislaus 1984
                      Experience: District Archaeologist, Stanislaus National Forest 23 years; Archaeological
                      Technician/Archaeologist, Stanislaus National Forest 1 year; Commissioner, Tuolumne County
                      Historic Preservation Review Commission 21 years; Archaeologist survey and excavation crews
                      in California, Nevada, Montana and Australia 8 years.
                      Team Responsibility: Archaeologist

                      Anne Dumas
                      Education: A.A. Social Science, West Los Angeles Community College, 1977; B.A. English, California
                      State University, Long Beach, 1989
                      Experience: Library Clerk II, Long Beach Public Library 20 years; Visitor Information Specialist,
                      Blackrock Ranger Station, Sequoia National Forest 5 years
                      Team Responsibility: Technical Editor

                      Brenda Ehmann
                      Education: A.S. Soil Conservation, Trinidad State Junior College
                      Experience: Deputy District Ranger, Sequoia National Forest 10 years; Public Service (Recreation)
                      Program Management Leader, Stanislaus National Forest 8 years
                      Team Responsibility: Recreation and Wilderness

                      James W. Frazier
                      Education: B.A. Physical Geography, California State University Long Beach, 1968; M.S. Watershed
                      Management, Humboldt State University, 1973
                      Experience: Hydrologist, Stanislaus National Forest 35 years
                      Team Responsibility: Hydrologist

                      Jennie Haas
                      Education: A.A. Natural Resources, Columbia College, 1979; B.A. Biology with Botany Concentration,
                      California State University, Stanislaus, 1987
                      Experience: Botanist, Stanislaus National Forest 23 years; Biological Technician, Stanislaus National
                      Forest 2 years; Surveying Technician, Stanislaus National Forest 9 years
                      Team Responsibility: Botanical Resources

                      Karen S. Harville
                      Education: B.S. Biology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 1973; M.S. Biology, emphasis in Ecology,
                      Experience: Supervisory Wildlife Biologist, Lassen National Forest, 7 years; Wildlife Biologist,
                      Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest 3 years; Wildlife Biologist, Bureau of Land Management 3
                      years; Seasonal Biological Technician, Shasta Trinity National Forest 10 years; Biological
                      Technician, Joshua Tree National Monument 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Wildlife Biologist

                      Steven J. Holdeman
                      Education: B.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Science, University of Tennessee 1988; M.S. Fisheries Science,
                      University of Tennessee, 1995
                      Experience: Forest Aquatic Biologist, Stanislaus National Forest 12 years; Aquatic Biologist, Private
                      Consulting 12 years
                      Team Responsibility: Aquatic Biology

                      Rebecca H. Johnson
                      Education: B.S. Botany, Minor Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, 1993
                      Experience: Assistant District Fire Management Officer (Fuels), Stanislaus National Forest 2 years;
                      District Fuels Technician, Stanislaus National Forest 6 years; Forestry Technician (Squad Boss) 2
                      years; Forestry Technician, Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station 1 year; Fire
                      Monitor, Grand Teton National Park 3 seasons; Biological Technician, Indiana Dunes National
                      Lakeshore 8 months
                      Team Responsibility: Fire and Fuels

                      Ryan Kalinowski
                      Education: A.A. General Education, Orange Coast Community College, 2005; B.S. Wildlife Management
                      and Conservation, Humboldt State University, 2008; M.S. Natural Resources, Emphasis in
                      Wildlife, Humboldt State University, 2012
                      Experience: Wildlife Biologist, Stanislaus National Forest, 2 years; Student Career Experience Program
                      (Wildlife), Stanislaus National Forest 3 years; Wildlife Technician 4 seasons
                      Team Responsibility: Wildlife Biologist

                      Melanie Kerr
                      Education: B.A. Geography (Physical Geography Concentration), California State University,
                      Sacramento, 2006
                      Experience: GIS Specialist, Eldorado National Forest 13 years
                      Team Responsibility: GIS Specialist

                      John Maschi
                      Education: B.S. Landscape Architecture, Rutgers University, 1976; Master of Landscape Architecture,
                      University of Illinois, 1978
                      Experience: Forest Planner, Stanislaus National Forest 17 years; Assistant Recreation Officer 6 years;
                      Landscape Architect 11 years
                      Team Responsibility: Land Management Planning and NEPA

                      Eric S. Nicita
                      Education: B.S. Soil Science, California Polytechnic State University, 1995
                      Experience: Soil Scientist, Eldorado National Forest 6 years; Soil Scientist, Fremont-Winema National
                      Forest 10 years; Soil Scientist, Ochoco National Forest 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Soil Scientist

                      Adam Rich
                      Education: B.S. Biology, Rutgers University, 1988; M.S. Biology, Rutgers University, 1993.
                      Experience: Wildlife Biologist, Stanislaus National Forest 16 years; Wildlife Biologist, Deschutes
                      National Forest 1 year; Research Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service 2 years
                      Team Responsibility: Wildlife Biologist

                      Steven Spickard
                      Education: B.A. Economics, University of California Berkeley, 1974; M.C.P. College of Environmental
                      Design, University of California Berkeley, 1978.
                      Experience: Consulting in Economics, Sole Proprietor of Land Economics Consultants 4 years; Sr. V.P.,
                      AECOM 3 years; Principal, Economics Research Associates 29 years; Research Analyst, Stanford
                      Research Institute 2 years
                      Team Responsibility: Social, Culture and Economy

                      Katie VinZant
                      Education: B.A. Biology, Colorado College, 2002
                      Experience: Botanist, Angeles National Forest 6 years; Natural Resource Specialist, Bureau of Land
                      Management 1 year; Botanist, San Bernardino National Forest 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Invasive Plant Specialist

                      Karen Walden
                      Education: B.S. Forest Resources Management, Humboldt State University, 1984
                      Experience: Forester/Resource Management Planning, Tahoe National Forest 11 years
                      Team Responsibility: Writer/Editor

                      Dana Walsh
                      Education: B.S. Forestry, Humboldt State University, 2005
                      Experience: Forester, Eldorado National Forest 9 years
                      Team Responsibility: Silviculturist

                      Sue Warren
                      Education: A.S. Forest Technology, Green River Community College, 1976; B.S. Wildlife Biology,
                      University of California, Davis, 1990
                      Experience: Travel Management Planning Specialist, Travel Management Interdisciplinary Team Leader,
                      Stanislaus National Forest 7 years; Public Service Program Leader, Stanislaus National Forest 10
                      years; District Ranger, Sierra National Forest 7 years; Wildlife Biologist 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Wild and Scenic Rivers

                      Tracy L. Weddle
                      Education: B.S. Environmental Studies, UC Santa Barbara, 2000; M.S. Watershed Science, Colorado
                      State University, 2003
                      Experience: Hydrologist, Stanislaus National Forest 7 years; Hydrologist, White Mountain National
                      Forest 3 years
                      Team Responsibility: Hydrologist

                      Kathryn Wilkinson
                      Education: B.S. Environmental Biology/Zoology, Michigan State University, 2000; M.S. Biology,
                      University of Illinois, 2003
                      Experience: Forest Ecologist, Stanislaus National Forest 4 years; Region 5 Sierra Nevada Amphibian
                      Monitoring Crew Leader, Stanislaus National Forest 6 years.
                      Team Responsibility: Aquatic Biologist

                      I sure hope they were practicing science, and don’t all have “biases”. *smirk*

                    • Larry, regarding your list of scientists cited in the USFS Rim Fire documents, this is a group of people that may or may have been consulted in the production of a management plan. Having been listed in such documents, I can assure you that there are a number who do not agree with all the final document’s recommendations.

                      Regardless, again, what you are citing is NOT a research paper in a peer reviewed journal. That is the standard in the scientific community. Until you are able to cite some objective research that supports your perspective, all you have are opinions. Everyone has those.

                    • References? *smirk*

                      Sooooo, what if there is no site-specific peer-reviewed science that doesn’t meet your narrow views of “scientific community” and “objective research”? We have already tried your “do nothing” mindset and it was an utter failure. We don’t need a study to tell us that we’ve wasted 40 years of recovery in those brushfields reserved for wildlife. I also have to say that impenetrable manzanita and whitethorn are not used by many rare wildlife species. Since there isn’t any on-site research, we’ll have to use observations and examples to guide us in what not to do. We do know what happens, on-site, when we “let nature take its course”. We have 40 year old brushfields that re-burn with moderate to high intensity, as per the BAER maps. These are FACTS! We have EXCELLENT examples of “whatever happens”, in Yosemite National Park. The consensus of stakeholders, including regional eco-groups, say that careful and limited salvage is best.

                      Yep, it’s that third “C-Word” of “Compromise” that scares these preservationists the most. I find compromise to be exhilarating, myself!

                    • Larry, I hear the same anti-intellectualism from creationists, climate-change deniers, and a sundry of other opinion-driven individuals. Science doesn’t count, just your anecdotal experiences and logical fallacies. Certainly glad you are not the director of a medical research lab or NASA.

                      And you say that “impenetrable manzanita and whitethorn are not used by many rare wildlife species?” Really? Can you please let us know what species you have observed using these post-fire, successional habitats?

                      I would suspect the only “species’ you are truly concerned about is lumber. In this, lies the problem.

                    • More insults??

                      I think that most reasonable people will accept the Rim Fire decision as “reasonable” but, you are saying that no science was consulted in making this decision. You conveniently ignore several key issues (science and social) and refuse to address them. I’m defending the skills and character of those listed scientists, who you nonchalantly toss aside as corrupt, biased and non-relevant. It just so happens that my views are aligned with theirs, and I am here to support that decision with my own educated observations and photographic evidence.

                    • Again Larry, you provide no peer-reviewed research, just opinions. Please quote me where I said no science was consulted in the USFS documents or where I called the listed scientists corrupt. I said neither. Like your position on salvage logging, you are only seeing what confirms what you already believe and imagining things that correspond to your preconceived notions about those who have different values than you, i.e. nature over logging.

        • I invite you any time your are available and I will show you units that have been salvaged logs that are full or naturally seeded conifers and show no signs of “ecological disaster”. I would challenge you to show me how the unlogged area are “better” than the logged areas.
          I know you don’t depend on producing wood products for your livelihood, but I do, so I will admit my bias. But you must admit that jobs are important for social well being.
          I am old man but I am more than willing to be proved wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.

    • [Edited per blog’s comment policy by Andy Stahl.]

      I spent a decade harvesting timber in nor cal for simpson and Palco and dealt with NSOs on a regular basis; they are hardly rare and are abundant in managed forests.

      • A contact with Columbia Helicopters once showed me this giant map of the Headwaters area in NW California. There were dozens of dots, all over the map, which were nest sites. Second and even third growth trees are really big in those coastal mountains.

        Mike, we try to stay civil in here, and namecalling is both ineffective and not often allowed.

        • Sorry to get there, Larry , but I still have maps from the most studied NSO’s in history on Palco timberlands and while some live in old growth in remote sites like the bottom of deep draws most nested in 40 or 50 year old trees.

          I spent close to 10 years working for Columbia there and you are correct that a 40 year old tree could be 30 inches dbh and 150 feet tall in 40 years. I worked on the weyerhauser tree farms and they don’t compare in productivity. A weyerhauser forester on the tree farm near Tenino said they were shooting for 1000mbf/per acre per year.

          Down around Humboldt county its way more than that, I’ve seen the growth rings on trees I’ve killed. Fir trees west of Scotia with an inch of growth in a year

          In the redwood region a CDF dude said they estimated that on a productive site that could produce 100. 000 bft/ per acre in a 40 year old stand

  8. It seems like should be a good source of information, so I think it’s a significant point when it says that in southwestern Oregon, “Results suggest that outside of large-scale stand-replacing events, wildfire is not likely a major threat to the persistence of spotted owls in this forest type.”

    That’s because I also recall that other fire research has shown that large-scale stand-replacing events are the ones that management actions don’t have much influence on, since we can’t change the climate and weather that drive them. If true, there doesn’t seem like much of an owl-based argument for vegetation management. (Off the original topic of salvage, but it seemed important.)

  9. 600 million on 30,000 acres sounds ridiculously high given the images shown so far. I’m sure a check cruise or landing tally will be much less, like half that due to the expected defectives.
    I want to point out that Guy’s stuff showed a major decline in occupancy by the holy spotted fowl, more than half. So how is that acceptable? How does that unendanger the holy spotted foul when the supposed reason for the delisting was a lack of appropriate habitat? Where did the displaced pairs go to after the fire and before the collaring? Morts or migrants?
    By the way, there is some private ground inside the Carlton perimeter — they just put out a call for logging sides, to punch off 12,000 acres and 55 million feet by April 2015. About 4600 feet per acre, which is not too crazy-sounding. No EIS, just get after it and replant. Oh, if we could do the same on public ground…….

    • Dave, the USFS has been doing that on public ground for decades, along with industrial levels of herbicide use. Those practices are what lead to much of how the Rim Fire behaved. Fortunately, the public is demanding the practice be stopped to protect our natural resources from exploitation.

      • Must I keep reminding you that clearcutting on Sierra Nevada National Forests has been banned since 1993? I guess I do!. I guess I need to also remind you that most of the plantations in the Rim Fire are replanted burns, too. Without any new clearcuts, the Forest Service does very little herbicide application. It took almost 10 years to get an herbicide EIS for the Power Fire, and it will be very interesting to see how long it will take to grow old growth.

        Why don’t you tell us all how herbicide use affected how the Rim Fire burned? (It was the old growth that burned in those two big days of destruction.)

          • I wish I’d seen this and weighed in earlier. A couple comments/ facts regarding the Rim Fire. The study by Monica Bond was based on survey data collected by the USFS, so there is no dispute between the biologist and the agency over the data. As for herbicide use? The Stanislaus NF used LOTS of herbicides associated with post-fire reforestation, including the 150k 1987 Stanislaus Complex and the 1996 Rogge and Ackerson fires. These are repeated applications to control brush species. They also use much smaller concentrations over smaller areas to control noxious weeds.

            • Apparently, you do not know about the most important plant to control after a wildfire. This plant is so domineering and water-greedy that it penetrates over 10 feet down, covering every square inch of available ground, if left unimpeded (in some cases). This plant is also one of the reasons why clearcutting is banned in Sierra Nevada National Forests. Bearclover is highly-adapted to dry, fire-prone areas, and their main limiting factor is sunlight. It is oily, pungent and extremely flammable. Shade is the best way to combat bearclover, manzanita and ceanothus.

              We don’t have to look very far into our own laboratory at Yosemite to see the effects of doing nothing in our National Forests. Drive down into Foresta and look at the still-barren landscape that has went from a majestic old growth pine forest, to a harsh and barren zone devoid of conifer seed sources.

              Salvaging a few thousand acres of larger trees isn’t an impact on owls. They do not nest in stands with reduced canopy cover, like in burned areas. Flying squirrels also do not live in areas with reduced canopy cover, too. If any existing nest is discovered, the area is automatically added to a protected area. Yes, I have participated in such actions.

              • So glad we are here to control the “evil” bear clover. How did the forest survive without us? I really do not like to use trite phrases, but you only see the world through a management paradigm, everything looks like it needs management.

                Again, there is zero ecological justification for salvage logging. Zero. Same goes for trying to rid the forest of the evil bear clover.

                Is this kind of stuff taught in forestry business schools?

                • It is well-known that California Indians expertly managed their landscapes rather intensively, burning off the bearclover every 2-5 years. Re-burns are a stark reality, especially in the Sierra Nevada. Salvage logging reduces the fuels of the next inevitable re-burn. The Rim Fire has shown that to be true, with green trees still standing in 40 year old plantations, and nothing in the areas left “for nature”. Browse the Google Maps and you’ll see existing reality.

                  Your bearclover strawman is clearly evident, Richard (or whatever you are calling yourself, these days). Nobody is proposing to eradicate bearclover. Actually, it helps in accomplishing prescribed burns, after proper mechanical thinning. However, after a stand-replacement wildfire, bearclover can inhibit or eliminate conifer establishment and survival.

                  • Larry, it is not “well-known” that California Indians expertly managed their landscapes and that they burned off bearclover every 2-5 years. Rather, your claim is an embedded part of the Noble Indian paradigm that has taken on the power of myth. Yes, Native Americans burned the landscape near their villages. They also radically altered the natural landscape and the natural fire regime by collecting wood for fire. But to suggest they were running around the entire Sierra Nevada carefully controlling the growth of bearclover is quite ridiculous. If you have any peer-reviewed evidence for your “well-known” claim, I would be interested in seeing it.

                    Many of the high-severity patches in the Rim are in plantations. Why do you continue to fail to properly acknowledge this point?

                    Read your statements about bearclover again, Larry. Your response here is reflective of how most of your responses to others are framed – you first make sweeping conclusions based on anecdotal stories, then either modify your statements when called on them or resort to ad hominem attacks. Speaking of which, I see you are back to your school yard behavior by referring to my screen name, one which hasn’t changed in years.

                    • I have seen you using at least THREE names, including another “regular” name that implied you were either using it as a “sockpuppet”, or using it because maybe your other names have been banned. (Editing MY posting is considered very BAD form. Matt!)

                      History is easily checked, and it appears you need a “refresher”. The mere existence of old growth pines over thick bearclover is proof enough for me that the mid-elevations of the Sierra Nevada were managed well, and managed often.

                      Additionally, the idea that “nature will heal (burned landscapes)” is not supported by current results. Indeed, there is very little about our current Sierra Nevada forests that is natural, and most of all, the conditions aren’t “natural”. No, humans aren’t interested in waiting 500 years for a new forest.

                    • “I have seen you using at least THREE names, including another “regular” name that implied you were either using it as a “sockpuppet”, or using it because your other names have been banned.”

                      Jiminy Christmas Larry! What’s with you? Jumping in the mud like a pig and claiming that Richard has been ‘banned?’ That’s entirely not true and as a moderator of this blog you shouldn’t be making such a claim.

                      Larry, what’s ironic of course, is that you have apparently forgotten the era on this blog when it was YOU who hid your true identity and instead commented as ‘Fotoware.’

                      For the record, Richard Halsey has been a regular commenter on this blog for some time now. I greatly appreciate his comments and insights, as I’m sure do others. He’s made over 60 comments here as Richard Halsey, but when he started posted comments back 4 or 5 years ago he sometimes would go by “Chaparralian.” Since Larry is a moderator of this blog, like I am, Larry could clearly see the “Chaparralian” email was connected with “” or “[email protected].” That’s because Richard is with the California Chaparral Institute. You’d have to be pretty dense, Larry, to not be able to figure out who “chaparralian” was 4 years ago.

                      Why Larry even chooses to bring this issue up now is a real mystery. Oh wait, it’s likely because it got too hot in the on-line kitchen for Larry, so had to resort to personal attacks. Let’s please knock that off Larry. Thanks.

                • There might be zero ecological “justification” for salvage logging but there might also be zero ecological “justification” for not salvage logging. There are many social and economic justifications for salvage logging.

                  • Of course, I think many scientists would claim there’s plenty of ecological ‘justification’ for not salvage logging. I also thank there are many social and economics justifications for not salvage logging too. Imagine that, eh?

                    • ANY salvage logging decision is an ecological compromise of impacts and benefits. Of course, the details of such compromises matters more than the generalized rhetoric. Additionally, it matters a lot whether such salvage efforts are clearcuts or, merely snag thinning.

              • I am well aware of the challenge of reforestation with brush fields and bear clover. But you must be kidding when you suggest clearcutting was eliminated in Region 5 because of bear clover. Clearcutting was going unabated until the spotted owl interim guidelines and then the Forest Plan amendment were applied on federal lands. Clearcutting continues on private timberlands.

                Herbicides speed up reforestation to a human timeframe, which provides some level of satisfaction, but ignores the complex and slow soil and plant interactions that occur after fires. Bearclover and other native shrubs also keep out weeds, whereas logged stands are ripe for their spread. Climate models suggest we are fighting an inexorable tide of shrubs and oaks into lower elevation Sierra mixed conifer.

                Yosemite still contains large stands of old growth, large snags, and logs that the Stanislaus (and most of the Sierra Nevada if you read the analysis of the FIA data) lacks. Foresta is just one small portion.

                I could continue to refute these nonsense statements about owls and flying squirrels, but I will just say, you really don’t know as much about the area or the wildlife species as you think you do. You seem to be clinging to the state of the knowledge at the time you worked there, whereas a great deal more has been learned in that time. The King Fire and Rim Fire burned through large private timberlands and various types and ages of FS treatments designed to be resilient to fire. They burned thinned stands, clearcuts, plantations, and old stands. The weather and the topography just lined up.

                • Apparently you do not comprehend what you are reading. Of course, I merely said that bearclover was just ONE of the reasons why clearcutting was voluntarily banned. It was the right thing to do, for all the right reasons. You appear to claim that owls nest in burned landscapes but, it is more about canopy cover, security and existing nests. We should not be blaming the present for the practices of the past. You cannot point at private salvage logging practices for the results on salvaged Forest Service lands. You cannot blast the Forest Service because of what SPI does. Most of what burned in the King Fire on Forest Service lands was in the untouched Rubicon River canyon. THAT is where the fire made its epic run, burning tens of thousands of acres in just one day. Again, look at the Google Maps images.

                  • I guess I would argue climate, aspect, topography, and “doing something” also produces brush fields.

                    As to the specifics of your argument about the Rim Fire in the 70’s Granite Fire, they did NOT leave unthinned plantations for wildlife- there is little or no value in doing so with 25-30-year old plantations. The thinning project was NOT the product of the 70’s but the new millennium, and thus thinned selectively in unburned stands and retained occupied spotted owl PACs. Wildlife stands had no effect on the burning in the plantations; climate, aspect, and topography had a lot to do with it, as the fire roared up from the canyon, along with most resources engaged in protecting Groveland, Hetch Hetchy, and other important resources. I’m sure we both mourn the burning of many treasured places in the Rim Fire, but nonsense theories don’t qualify as reasoned discussion. If this isn’t the forum for the latter, perhaps I’m in the wrong place.

  10. Here are some indisputable facts that are quite different from some of the suppositions given above:

    1) The NSO in Managed Forests – “One of the most profound advances in scientific knowledge for
    conservation of the Northern Spotted Owl is the understanding of forest heterogeneity (Blakesley, Ch. 5, 2004) … In northwestern California mixed conifer forests, some early-successional (0-20 year) conditions often known as “brush stage clearcuts” were found to support good reproductive success. There, a landscape mosaic of young stands with high densities of prey and mature stands that support survival under inclement weather demonstrated a high level of suitability, i.e., provided optimal conditions (Franklin and others, 2000) … In one study, Northern Spotted Owls selected young forest stands that had more developed understory more often than old forests (Carey and Peeler, 1995). The owl’s prey is more abundant and diverse in habitats with understory hardwood shrubs and herbaceous species than in habitats without these components (Carey and others, 1992) … The research summarized in this publication shows that managed forests are important for Northern Spotted Owl habitat for three main reasons. First, a mosaic of forest ages including early seral forest conditions can provide excellent foraging habitat for owls and their prey. To ensure that habitat is as functional as possible, the research indicates retaining legacy components such as snags, and maintaining tree species diversity, including hardwoods, adds to suitability of the habitat.
    Second, thinning can accelerate the development of late seral characteristics in young stands. Finally, the risk of uncharacteristically severe wildfires in mixed conifer forests is a major threat to Northern Spotted Owls that can be reduced through active forest management including thinning and the use of prescribed fire

    2) as of 2008: “Estimated rates of annual population decline ranged from 0.4 to 7.1 percent across federal study areas (weighted average of 2.8 percent). … n federal lands, nesting/roosting habitat declined by 3.4 percent rangewide, with some physiographic provinces experiencing losses of 10 percent. Dispersal habitat increased by 5.2 percent, but dispersal-capable landscapes declined by 1 percent. Wildfire remains the leading cause of habitat loss.” See Table 3-2

    3) 2010 but probably 2008 15 year data: “Regionwide, the owl populations are dropping 2.9 percent a year. In Washington state, they’re declining at 6 to 7 percent a year … “Nothing we do seems to work for the spotted owl,” Forsman said.
    Note: Forsman is the Wildlifer who got the whole NSO issue started and has been a lead player ever since.
    See also the graphs showing the 40+% actual decline in the NSO since 1990 and projected decline if the rate continues:

    4) “It was originally believed that the spotted owls could survive only in old growth preserves in which there was little or no forest management activity. Research conducted on Green Diamond Company’s timberland in coastal northern California indicated that this theory was untrue. The species not only survived, but also often flourish on commercial timberlands in this region. In fact, Green Diamond’s timberland proved to be one of the most populous spotted owl areas in the Northwest. Since our owl research began in 1990, we have identified over 1,700 adult and juvenile spotted owls on our property alone.”
    Note: I can’t find the report to back me up but I have read that these lands are the only lands where the NSO owl population has not decreased. They are the same lands that contradicted the original NSO recovery plan and were ignored by the wildlifers. Item #1 above speaks to that indirectly.

    • VERY impressive, Gil! I do remember one “natural” event that led to some serious owl mortality. A very late winter-like storm happened when baby owls were at a critical development age. California spotted owls nest design often affects the survival of their young. The “platform type” of nest often collects too much snow, and if the owls are too young to find better shelter, they die off. It is said that the more southern the owl, their nests are less “weather-resistant”.

      Again, it seems that the actual nests are more important than the foraging habitats. The lands with nests in them are much more rare and critical than the lands with mice on them.

    • Argument over Bill. Invoking the Nazis is a clear violation of logic as per Godwin’s Law.
      Not sure what your opinion is on this article you’ve linked, but regardless, it is time to stop hating and realize hate is not only counterproductive but relegates you to a position that always loses in the long run.
      This discussion board is indeed the domain of a bundle of very sad, angry, old men.

        • It’s not an insult Larry, but my observation of who is saying what on this site. I may have made an incorrect assumption about “angry,” but when ridicule and Nazis are being invoked, hard not to imagine there is some anger here. The old men observation is accurate, but then again I guess it depends on how you define old men. I’d define them as males who are inflexible, never acknowledge that they may be wrong, and respond with ridicule to any opinion different from their own. I know a few angry old men who are in their 30’s.

          • Oh, man, I just clicked on RH’s live link — “Let Nature Heal on It’s own” citing Lindemayer and Franklin. Strawberry Brushfields Forever!
            This is a forestry website.

  11. Item #1 cites Franklin and Courtney, 2004, for statements about active management to reduce fire risk to owls. Here is what that paper actually concludes:

    “More aggressive active management will be necessary in late-successional forests and landscapes, which are at risk of uncharacteristic stand-replacement fires, if there is an intent to reduce the current potential for large losses of suitable Northern Spotted Owl habitat. Silvicultural treatments that involve both mechanical treatment and prescribed fire may be useful. Such treatments appear essential to avoid essentially permanent loss of Northern Spotted Owl habitat—as well as many other ecological values—on these sites, particularly on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. It is important to note that such fuel treatments are NOT appropriate (emphasis in original) on sites that are naturally characterized by heavy fuel accumulations and infrequent stand replacement fire regimes, such as the moist Douglas-fir—western hemlock forests of western Oregon and Washington.”

      • Well, my comment above was about pre-fire treatments. The quote was a biologist’s take on fire behavior. I think that still leaves the question for fire scientists of whether, for such drier sites, such treatments are effective in reducing “uncharacteristic” fire, which in turn depends on the extent to which a fire is uncharacteristic because of fuels that could be treated. If the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (also mentioned in the Franklin article) says it’s toast regardless, let’s focus resources elsewhere.

        Post-fire, it’s interesting to look at what the southern Sierra national forests are proposing in their revised plans for “old forest and complex early seral habitats.” A desired condition is:

        “Complex early seral habitat created as a result of a disturbance (e.g., burned forest habitat) contains dense patches of snags as well as habitat elements characteristic of natural succession (e.g., regenerating shrub cover and herbaceous understory) that are important to early seral forest-associated species.”

        A guideline then suggests that, “Large fires with more than 1,000 acres of contiguous blocks of moderate and high vegetation burn severity should retain at least ten percent of the moderate and high vegetation burn severity area without harvest to provide areas of high snag density for species that use complex early seral habitat.

        This presumably would meet the regulatory requirement for ecological integrity on these sites, which is to be based largely on historic conditions. I can’t figure out how the snags left by the other 90% of a fire would have disappeared historically (*smirk*). But seriously, is there science that says 10% of early seral habitat being complex is enough?

        • There is substantial mitigation, in the form of the three HUGE National Parks, and another HUGE National Monument, too. Soooo, we got THAT going for us! *smirk* When some talk about “historic conditions”, they are really talking about “pre-Man” conditions. Either that, or they are grossly underestimating Indian management on forest lands.

          • That reminds me — has anyone besides me noticed the change away from “historic range of variability” terminology to “NATURAL range of variability” in USFS planning processes?
            Anyone more engaged than me want to start a thread on that?

  12. I recently read that global climate change, by inference warming of the climate, is making for a more homogenous and less varied habitat, which in turn is allowing previously defined specific species to interbreed with other similar species, and thus reduce diversity. The conclusion was that over time, we will have fewer species because we won’t need as many due to having far fewer climate niches and micro climates. And then there was a bit about the brown (grizzly) bears on the Tongass NF on Chicagoff and Admiralty Islands having more polar bear DNA than grizzly DNA. And having had that helical condition for a long time. And the concept that Eastern timber wolves are as much coyote as they are Northern Grey wolf. Other instances were noted. So how about Stryx? Are they really Mexican spotted owls and the ones as far north as Vancouver Island are really out migrants at the far end of the suitable and available habitat, and the further you get from the epicenter of their most favorable habitat, that of the mixed deciduous and conifer forests with a large nut mast production and thus also a large rodent population to make use of the nuts, thus for the NSO (or is it MSO? CSO?) a “target rich environment.” And out migrating young have gone far and wide to find a niche habitat for their own survival, and when that goes gunny bag, which it can with many natural events and now man caused events, it is the critical mass of the epicenter habitat of oaks, chinquapins, and ground level brush that supports the luxurious prey base the provides for good owl habitat and reproduction. So some of them are terrible nest builders or lazy. Weather anomalies get a lot of critters. We had three straight days of several inches of rain daily, on the last days of Sept 2013, and as a result, a heavy die off of swallows that had yet to migrate and bats, both of which starved to death because the incessant rain for three days kept them from being able to feed and from feed being available. Barn floors were littered with the dead. It wasn’t the barns that did them in. It was not being able to secure nutrition. Bad timing. And the survivors, the birds breeding this year, are the ones who migrate earlier. Darwin at his best. Stay too long and get whacked. Stray too far north and get whacked. It works that way on the fringes of habitat. NSO on the northern fringes of their habitat, or marbled murrelets on the southern fringe of their habitat, pay the price. And here comes the Barred owl, and Simpson has permission to pull out the shotguns and shoot Barred owls to preserve NSO. How McNamara is that? “We have to destroy the village to save the village.” For all you young pups, McNamara was the Sec of Defense during the heat of the Vietnam War. The napalm and Agent Orange moderator.

    All of which is so much hot air from me, because we know that both critters, owls and murrelets, are merely surrogates for no logging and research money for universities, and did and do that job well. That was not a shovel, but a spade.

  13. Estimated costs to taxpayers of the Rim Fire salvage logging plan. Anyone care to comment on the article quoted below? And please, let’s leave out the ridicule, references to Nazis, etc. Let’s present actual facts based on documents, not anecdotal information.

    “In reality, killing-off the existing natural conifer regeneration in the Rim Fire area through logging will cost taxpayers millions. The Forest Service estimates that it will generate about $200 per acre in revenue from the logging project. However, the agency’s own documents show that artificial planting (including site preparation and planting expenses) costs about $700 to $1000 per acre, and sometimes even more. Therefore, on any given acre, when post-fire logging kills natural conifer regeneration, the net cost to taxpayers for replanting the areas is at least $500 to $600. The real cost could be even higher given that under the Salvage Sale Fund most of the timber sale receipts are typically required to be allocated to future post-fire logging projects, not replanting.

    As the environmental assessment for another, much smaller, recent Forest Service post-fire logging project — the Aspen post-fire logging project, Sierra National Forest — recently admitted: “Foregoing recovery and reforestation treatments would save taxpayers approximately $3,287,000 of appropriated funding needed to implement these activities.” Because of the massive size of the Rim Fire, the net cost to taxpayers — just on this issue alone — would, by conservative estimates, be more than $15 million, and could easily top $25 million.

    And for what? So the Forest Service can generate about $5 million in revenue from selling public timber to private logging companies — most of which would be used to pay Forest Service staff to implement the next round of post-fire logging projects?”

    From –

    • Of course, Chad Hanson assumes that all salvage cutting units are “virtual clearcuts”, and that just isn’t the case, whether the unit is a high intensity burn, or the fire just creeped around. He also assumes that the timber fallers aim for green trees, when felling salvage. He also ignores all the critical non-commercial activities that the purchaser is required to complete. Regarding replanting, it clearly doesn’t make economic sense to replant trees in an area which is likely to burn in the next 20 years, anyway (or even sooner!) Regarding the Rim Fire, they are planning some very non-traditional styles and methods for reforestation in the Rim Fire. I would guess that maybe 20,000 acres would be replanted, if they can use herbicides. If those 30,000 salvage harvest acres don’t get cut, I suspect that planting acreage will drop precipitously. We should be pointing at THIS fire as the “poster child” for catastrophic re-burns, lost owl nesting habitats and permanent brushfields. We’re at a crossroads and we know where the “whatever happens” road goes. Let’s not take that road again, please.

      Hope is a poor excuse for careful and educated management.

  14. I think you must take in account the economy created when you harvest timber, not just what is paid to the Forest Service. Its an economy that is based on actually producing something and bringing capital into an area, not just more government spending, its a real win win scenario. During harvest go into some of these communities and you will see the economic activity brought on by logging, and that is just the beginning of the created economy. Think of all the value of the wood products down stream from there. The value of the harvested timber just keeps on increasing and goes into products that can increase in value over time. I can’t imagine why someone thinks 100% of the burnt timber should just stay there and decay. We harvest, we restore, we create economy, we benefit, the economy and social fabric of our communities benefit, and the forest environment and its inhabitants benefits.
    I am pretty sure the Forest Service budget wouldn’t change very much whether they harvest this timber or not. If they do harvest it there will be more jobs, which is good for everyone.
    It is not a trade off of environmental damage for jobs. It’s a trade off trying to do our best to make things better for the environment and for society, or doing nothing.

    • A key issue around here is that fuels need to be removed before the next inevitable wildfire, in 49 years, or less. Some parts of the southern Stanislaus experience fires every 13 years, according to tree rings. We should not be trying to reduce fuels through uncontrolled wildfires. It is unfortunate that some people will still resist efforts to salvage 40 year old burned trees. It seems that the anti-salvage rhetoric has been amped up, with claims of clearcutting burned owl territories and a “death sentence” for owls. I hope that the Forest Service sees beyond the expected District Court decision to address the “proper” analysis of the owl (and goshawk) issues, as well as the BBW. While I don’t think the “new science” Hanson has banked on is valid, I do think that the Appeals Court will find a way to shoot down the project.

  15. What are “old growth” forests if not the cumulative surviving vegetation from periodic wildland fire, wind and insects? If you have “stand replacement” fire (which does leave unburned, aspect protected trees for the “mosaic” of unburned areas) periodically, a replication of that would certainly be the Hanson “virtual clearcut” that leaves a handful or less of surviving trees per acre or hundred acres. Stand replacement fire is a virtual clearcut.

    Some of our most biologically viable post logging forests were the ones that were “high graded”, leaving small trees, off species, and large woody debris along with high stumps that collapsed due to rot, bugs, and pileated woodpecker excavations. I guess I wonder why “virtual clearcuts” are not recognized for what they are, and that is a component of needed habitat? Succession habitat. Salvage logging dead trees, leaving all the green ones, which can produce a “virtual clearcut” is the objective. Is it wrong?

    The first large fire rehab, salvage logging (over 4 billion board feet), and planting effort were the Tillamook Burns in Oregon. Oregon’s present iteration of Hanson don’t want logging on that forest today, even though the effort, that forested result, was done without the vast knowledge of today of what works, what is good or bad, and a litany of “how to” research and known results. So the forest the Hansons of Oregon don’t want logged are replete with off site seed sourced trees, many planted in the fog zone along the coast, now subject to Swiss Needle Cast, all of them doug fir. Hemlock, true firs, cedar, spruce, were not planted. None of those native to that ground suffer from the Needle Cast and super slow or now, no growth. And there were areas planted with coast redwoods, port orford cedar, and other off site species. We now know that does not work either. But Oregon did something, made mistakes, furthered the process of understanding, and has a viable, working forest that really needs to be clear cut and planted with site matched native seed. No new roads are needed. The old ones are still there. The greatest impediment, naturally, is the serial litigators from the urban environs who are really, really impacting the ability of the counties to finance their infrastructure and schools. The logging money goes 65% to the county, and 35% to the State for management. The land is State and can’t be taxed. So the counties have little taxable land and now no income due to incessant litigation and a succession of urban Democrat governors campaigns financed by the progressive left, which includes the very same people who fund the serial litigators. Sad deal. At least on the Rim, the State of CA has allowed SPI and others to recover their wood as best they could. And of course, will place stringent conditions on reforestation efforts. Same land, different governance. It isn’t about biology or science, but about governance.

    Where I live, the Siusalw NF has about 32,000 acres of “old growth”, and maybe more now that a little more is known about the tough to hike through Kentuck Falls, middle ground, between the Smith River and the Umpqua and Siuslaw Rivers. But the “old growth” designation is applied to any acre with a tree on it over 200 years old. The most of the Siuslaw is the natural and CCC planted regrowth from the second half of the 19th century stand removal fires, over 60,000 acres of former farmsteads purchased by the USFS during the Great Depression under the Rural Relocation Lands Act, and that reproduction on lands logged post WWII in what was then 100 year old second growth doug fir and hemlock. So here we are in 2014, and the Siuslaw has the same number of acres of “old growth” as it did fifty years ago, and soon will have a sudden influx of as much as 185,000 acres as time passes to a predetermined date when an age homogenous, huge area of trees pass the 150 year milestone or whatever the current criteria for “old growth” might be. The dbh qualification is a joke, in that managed stands make the artificial 22″dbh stand average at about age 50 or about age 85 unmanaged.

    So with the Rim, the issue is to protect all the surviving trees and species, in clumps or singularly, to be the “old growth” cohort as regrowth occurs. And if prudent, try to create fire barriers to some of the significant stands and species like sequoias, sugar pines, p pines.

    I have no idea of how long it takes for “native”, “natural” seed to fall on any given area, but I do remember a long ago helicopter ride down Oregon’s coast range, flying at about 5000′, in stormy late summer or fall weather, and having conifer seeds sticking to the “window” bubble of the Hughes 500. They were a couple thousand feet above the forests below, riding the wind. Conifer seed can travel, and if seed producing trees are within a mile or so, I would expect “naturals” to grow and be ingrowth for decades.

    This idea that all the natural seeding occurs only in the first year or two after the fire is just wrong. Seed will fall on the area for decades. The issue is it falling on a medium, in a site, where it can germinate and grow. Lots of random seed, and it is all a part of nature’s crap shoot to success. Planting a tree in a prepared site removes the crap shoot of time and place from the equation. And that satisfies a certain inclination on the part of a society to maintain and nurture that what provides for them. If you have resources enough to not need anything from the landscape but aesthetic and mental satisfaction, wilderness is there just for you. Others might need a different set of results for their satisfaction and needs from their society. I think we address that with attention to things like “diversity”, “multi-cultural”, and “parity.”

    • I do see that you understand the owl biology very well. Their nesting habitat is very specialized, though not as much as the marbled murrelet. To me, the Siuslaw will soon be the equivalent of a huge chunk of fine marble. We can craft this unnatural chunk of plantations into something beautiful, functional and great for human beings, as well as wildlife.

      Every Forest Service salvage project leaves snags, as well as trees likely to survive. Part of the process has now become a period of time, waiting for the expected mortality to occur. The quicker response of the Forest Service to large wildfires has improved but, many trees take time for dieback to occur, to meet marking guidelines. So far, reports say that bark beetles haven’t bloomed yet. Where I live, there continues to be insect mortality. There is a brand new bug patch just across the street from me place.

      Widespread “natural” aerial seeding might not be the best thing. There is no control over the seed stock and “landing site”. Here in the Sierra Nevada, these mid elevations are dominated by bearclover. Only the deep-rooted pines can compete against bearclover. It beats its competitors by being water-greedy and fire resilient. “Natural” regen takes a very long time, especially on southern aspects, around here.

  16. This snippet seems like the crux of their “feelings” against salvage logging:

    “Most owls foraged in high-severity burned forest more than in all other burn categories; high-severity burned forests had greater basal area of snags and higher shrub and herbaceous cover, parameters thought to be associated with increased abundance or accessibility of prey.”

    Like John was saying, it is more about prey and less about snags. If a particular piece of land didn’t support prey before the fire, just how will it suddenly “import” and support new prey. There has to be something for the prey to eat, too. Just WHERE is the connection of snags to prey, in the short term? It seems like a huge sacrifice, with little return.

    The many impacts to not salvaging some of the snags are well-known, with on-site examples of just how damaging re-burns can be. We’ve already tried not salvaging timber on burned lands. WHY should we try it again?!?

    • snags are important for nesting AND for prey. Of the two primary prey species for spotted owls, woodrats and flying squirrel, woodrats do not do well in fire. Flying squirrels live and breed in snags. Owls also nest in snags.
      Regarding re-burns. Even you acknowledge that many areas in the Rim Fire were salvaged and replanted plantations. Did these plantations reburn in a way you find preferable to a theoretical reburn in unsalvaged forest? I suggest you visit Kibbie Ridge, between Lake Eleanor and Cherry Lake. Both sides burned in the Ackerson Fire, but Yosemite was left unharvested, whereas the Stanislaus NF was harvested and replanted. Both sides ended up looking the same. There are no simple conclusions regarding management.

  17. I’m afraid you are making up a story to meet your Google observations and worldview. None of the plantations in the Granite project were left unthinned for wildlife, just some of the larger trees in the few remaining natural stands. The brush fields in the Granite area were whitethorn and Prunus, and were extensively masticated for the project as well. The area was all treated during this millennia, and yet it burned pretty extensively. You could likely get a copy of the decision for the thinning project from the district office or the Forest with maps and see just what was treated and where.

    • I have been out there on the ACTUAL GROUND, wading through 40 year old brushfields. I saw the 10 foot high manzanita and whitethorn. Hey, I was there in 1972, too, seeing everything through the eyes of a 14 year old. I do know the history of this area quite well, also working on the A-Rock fire salvage, too. The portion of the Rim Fire within the Yosemite will be subject to the same fate as the Foresta area. The old growth mortality in the park is astounding but, it clearly provides a reason to not let “Whatever Happens” in the adjacent National Forests. Expert Indian management produced a healthy ecosystem, while doing nothing produces brushfields. Yes, we DID read the “Purpose and Need” of the plantation thinning projects, and they describe the mindset of the 70’s Granite Fire salvage. They DID leave large chunks of land “for wildlife”, even back then.

      • somehow my reply ended up elsewhere: I’d meant to reply to this comment….forgive me for the double post…

        I guess I would argue climate, aspect, topography, and “doing something” also produces brush fields.

        As to the specifics of your argument about the Rim Fire in the 70’s Granite Fire, they did NOT leave unthinned plantations for wildlife- there is little or no value in doing so with 25-30-year old plantations. The thinning project was NOT the product of the 70’s but the new millennium, and thus thinned selectively in unburned stands and retained occupied spotted owl PACs. Wildlife stands had no effect on the burning in the plantations; climate, aspect, and topography had a lot to do with it, as the fire roared up from the canyon, along with most resources engaged in protecting Groveland, Hetch Hetchy, and other important resources. I’m sure we both mourn the burning of many treasured places in the Rim Fire, but nonsense theories don’t qualify as reasoned discussion. If this isn’t the forum for the latter, perhaps I’m in the wrong place.


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