Smith heads Health Forests Healthy Communities, a timber industry-affiliated non-profit that advocates for active forest management. He says the relatively small post-fire logging project the Forest Service is planning is not only economically inadequate …
“ … but also a missed opportunity to reforest more of the landscape for the future.”
Smith says that salvage logging — followed by replanting — helps restore forest health. He says it’s important for fire safety, too.
“Less salvage means more dead and dying trees and snags that not only fuel the next big fire but also put firefighters in danger the next time they need to go in there and put out a fire,” he says.
The Oregon Society of American Foresters says post-fire logging can foster “timely development of desirable forest conditions.”
Still, in the Environmental Assessment for the Chetco Bar salvage project, Forest Service officials don’t claim any forest health or fire safety benefits. According to project coordinator Jessie Berner
“… We are trying to capture the value of those trees to try to recoup some of the economic value of that timber in support of our local communities.”
Salvage logging can definitely have economic benefit. But the scientific evidence that it leads to healthier forests is thin … Jerry Franklin is professor emeritus of ecosystem analysis at the University of Washington.
“I’m not aware of any science that supports the notion that salvage logging contributes significantly to ecological values, ecological recovery,” he says
“The best thing to do generally is to allow it to develop following the kind of natural processes that have been going on for thousands of years,” he says.
One point of disagreement might be whether that desired “landscape of the future” or “desirable forest conditions” constitutes “ecological recovery.” Ecological sustainability and integrity are required for national forest lands.