Slanted News?

I found an LA Times article regarding the Rim Fire, as well as the future of forest management within the Sierra Nevada. Of course, Chad Hanson re-affirms his preference to end all logging, everywhere. There’s a lot of seemingly balanced reporting but, there is no mention of the Sierra Nevada Framework, and its diameter limits. There is also the fact that any change to the SNF will take years to amend. There was also no mention that only about 20,000 Federal acres of the Rim Fire was salvaged, with some of that being in 40-year old plantations.

There might also be another ‘PictureGate“, involving Chad Hanson displaying supposed Forest Service clearcut salvage logging. His folks have already displayed their inability to locate themselves on a map. If he really had solid evidence, he SURELY would have brought it into court

Additionally, the comments are a gold mine for the misinformation and polarization of the supposedly ‘progressive’ community of readers.

Trump “demands” more logging. Really? Does he ever request, suggest or ask for information? I’m tired of hearing of Trump’s “demands.” It could be that some logging would be beneficial but the minute Trump “demands” it, it is suspect. One of his friends will be making millions on the logging and probably giving a kickback to a Trump business. Trump is the destructor of all things beautiful or sacred, the King Midas of the GOP.

A tiny increase in logging of small trees is very unlikely to generate “millions”.

You have no idea what “forest management” is. You want to clearcut all of the old growth forests and then turn them into Christmas tree lots and pine plantations. That is industrial tree farming, not forest management. That is the dumb dogma, speaking, not actual management of the forests.

Most people in southern California don’t know that Forest Service clearcutting and old growth harvesting in the Sierra Nevada has been banned since 1993. The article makes no mention of that.

Riddle me this, Lou. How did the forests manage before we spent $2.5 billion dollars a year on fire suppression? Are we the problem or the cure? Is this just another out of control bureaucracy with a life of its own?

Of course, no solution offered.

19 thoughts on “Slanted News?”

  1. The “Slanted News” commenter seems disturbed that scientists who have studied post wildfire areas have concluded that the best solution is to leave the area alone for natural processes to take hold. This is a solution tried and true for millions of years.

    However, the industrialized methods have been in place for only a few decades and cannot guarantee sustainability like they claim. One would have to be on the land and be objective to scientific principles to understand the best solution to wildfires is to leave it alone.

    Unfortunately, there is mainstream messaging hugely funded by the timber industry that is believed by many, and especially so, if compensated by having that belief.

    • So, we’ll mark you down for being against snag-thinning projects which reduce fuel loading, without a long-term study about the effects of such projects. Yes, “scientists’ have also “studied” post-fire snag thinning and determined it was fine, in many situations. My own scientific observations AND photographic evidence show that snag thinning is better for the long run, instead of allowing human-caused re-burns to catastrophically ‘reduce the fuels loading’ and release massive carbon (as well as more powerful GHG’s). Until there is a multi-decade study which analyzes ALL impacts, including those upon humans, maybe we should not pretend that doing nothing is the best. Finally, it’s not all about science, however incomplete about the subject it may be.

      • “snag thinning” is a chimera.

        Using excuses like safety and efficiency, salvage logging almost always involves clearcutting, or removal of all but a few trees.

        Reburn is an overblown risk, and in the few cases where it does occur, it’s part of the natural cycle. There is no evidence that salvage logging aids recovery of vegetation or increase carbon storage.

        • Two concepts……. “Snag requirements” and “marking guidelines”. No there are NO clearcuts in USFS salvage logging plans. Those are empty accusations and they are unwelcome here.

          The A-Rock area in Yosemite has burned three times in the last 30 years. I’ve provided on-the-ground pictures of brush having trouble regenerating, with no conifers growing.

          In the Sierra Nevada, none of your statements hold any water.

    • Larry, I disagree with you that “scientists” have concluded that the “best” solution is to leave the areas alone for natural processes.
      Best is a value judgment… I bet a fish bio, a hydrologist, and a climate scientist might all have different ideas about what is best, let alone people who live in a community at risk of flooding, and so on.

      Maybe your statement is too broad.. we can imagine salvage logging, watershed restoration and flood prevention activities, and replanting trees. Are you talking about salvage logging alone or ???
      People have been salvage logging since their have been fires, and have been replanting burns since.. the 30’s (???) not a “few decades.”
      Do you have evidence to support your claim of “mainstream messaging” by the “timber industry”??

  2. Here’s another article that I view as slanted, from The Oregonian yesterday.

    “As lawmakers gear up to make another attempt to pass a climate change bill in 2019, new data suggests that the forest sector is not only a factor in Oregon’s carbon picture, it is THE factor and one of national and even international importance as lawmakers look to reduce the concentration of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere.”

    The folks from the enviro groups who were interviewed advocate for longer rotations (80+ years) on private land and zero harvests on federal land.

    I sent this letter to The Oregonian is response — hasn’t been published yet:

    CO2: Trucks, not Trees
    There is a glaring lack of perspective in “Forest policy looms over Oregon’s climate change debate,” by Ted Sickinger (July 18). Taken as a whole, Oregon’s forests are a carbon sink: they absorb more carbon dioxide than is released when forests burn, wood decays, and trees are harvested. Even Oregon’s private forestlands, where most of the timber is harvested (and replanted), are withdrawing more carbon from the atmosphere than they are losing, according to the Oregon Global Warming Commission’s draft Forest Carbon Accounting Project report, which Sickinger cited.

    The article ought to have mentioned the key takeaway from the commission’s 2017 Biennial Report to the Legislature: “Rising transportation emissions are driving increases in statewide emissions.” The report noted that Oregon’s emissions had been declining or holding relatively steady through 2014, but “recorded a non-trivial increase between 2014 and 2015. The majority of this increase (60%) was due to increased emissions from the transportation sector, specifically the use of gasoline and diesel.” The other main sources are generating heat and power for the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

    Changes to Oregon forest practices aren’t needed: our forests are already storing more carbon than they emit. What to cut emissions? Protect forests from development so we don’t lose them—and work to reduce emissions from cars and trucks.

  3. The process by which timber “targets” are assigned remains a mystery, in part because the public is excluded from this process, but increases “demanded” by the Trump of administration have been acknowledged. Harvest levels must be consistent with the relevant forest plan, which makes assigning group targets to multiple forests a potential problem.

    Consistency means limiting harvest levels to the ASQ in current plans. ASQ is a decadal limit, so short-term increases are not necessarily violations (and in many places may possible due to lower volumes in earlier in the decade). There may be questions about whether old ASQs remain valid after large fires, and I don’t know if they were ever adjusted to reflect the Sierra Nevada amendments (that wasn’t typically done for amendments).

    Ultimately, the “best” solution should take into account what the forest plan says for each area. Where “timber production” is the goal, artificial treatments to promote that may make sense. In other areas, that seems less likely (beyond safety considerations).

    Older forest plans often did not address the need for or role of salvage logging, but it should be on the radar for pending and future plan revisions since ecological integrity must be addressed. If timber production requires salvage logging, there may be areas that should not be found suitable for timber production if they are needed to provide complex early seral habitat.

    • STILL….. the question remains. How much more volume can be logged, through thinning projects? There continues to be multiple layers of barriers preventing more “pace and scale” to thinning projects in the Sierra Nevada. Frankly, the amount is going to be so tiny that it is completely insignificant. Currently, the ASQ’s are controlled by the SNFP, and the funding. There is little that Trump can do to alter those realities.

  4. Comparing these two articles, LA Times and Oregon Live it’s interesting to me that reforestation seems controversial among some folks in California who are interested in “naturalness” and proposed as part of the carbon solution by the Oregonians.

    As to the Trump “demanding”, it is probably the Sec of Ag, who in consultation with the usual suspects, including elected officials of all kinds, is pushing for greater volumes removed in timber sales, which in many parts of the country are almost entirely fuel treatments. For worriers, we can check how well that worked during the Bush administration, where the same folks pushed for the same things.. I don’t have the numbers on how that worked, but it didn’t seem like much of a change ultimately on the ground where I was.

    • Here in California, there was a difference but, it took 4 years to amend the SNFP, allowing the diameter limits to go back up to the previous 30″ diameter limit. The leadership saw the SNFP as a “train wreck”, as a 20″ diameter limit seemed unworkable. Reducing ASQ’s to 1/30th of the levels of the 1980’s wasted four years of work that the forest so badly needed. Additionally, timber crews were decimated and/or laid off.

  5. Afforestation and post-fire replanting are not the same thing.
    Afforestation is planting on non-forested sites.
    Burned forests are still forests and will regenerate on their own in the vast majority of cases.

    • I know that afforestation and reforestation are different things…

      I worked in central Oregon in the 80’s in reforestation and in my experience:

      Forests will regenerate in most places (based on track record, but with climate change?) In the area I worked, it depended a joint function of the wetness of the year, cone crops, proximity to seed trees, seeds getting on bare mineral soil, lack of competition and all that. Where I live now (wetter) there are little pine trees everywhere.

      But if the next 50 years is key for climate, wouldn’t we want those little trees sucking up carbon (and providing shade and habitat and so on) as soon as possible in those places where it’s definitely tree country but getting them established is more difficult?

  6. More “fake news”!

    “A bill is now making its way through the U.S. Senate that would speed up this kind of clearcutting and weaken environmental laws that protect national forests — including burned areas — and the threatened species that dwell in them.”

    Hanson continues to insist that clearcutting is the Forest Service salvage logging standard.

    Again, he lies! Where is the definitive proof? Show us where clearcutting is in the Forest Service plans!! Show us on Google Maps! Hanson is clearly desperate for….. DONATIONS to support his failing lawsuits.

    • I have worked on 50-60 salvage projects in my career. Not a single project had a single clearcut as part of the project’s plans or contract. The last clearcut on a salvage project I worked on was in 1989, where entire contiguous white fir stands were dying and dead. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of leaving enough snags, and meeting the snag requirements, overall. Wildlife Biologists say that clumps of snags are much better than single snags. For me, it’s a judgement call that should fit the situation. It’s easy to leave clumps where there are skidding problems. There are many reasons why there is no lack of snags, after a project is completed.

      But, no clearcuts.

      It is certainly very easy to compose a picture that looks like a clearcut, without it actually being a clearcut. Many such pictures are shot next to roads or power lines. Or, it is also easy to take pictures on private lands, passing them off as “Forest Service clearcuts”.

  7. Is hands-off management the answer?

    Fact: The national forests are now harvesting ~8% of the gross annual timber growth on unreserved timberlands .
    Fact: About 68% of the growth now dies each year, mostly from fire, insects and disease.

    Fact: In the late ’80s, at the peak of national forest timber harvesting, the cut was ~40% of the growth.
    Fact: In the same period mortality was ~22% of growth.

    Fact: Gross annual growth of timber has declined by ~1760 million cubic feet (about 23%) over the past 30 years.

    Check the figures for yourself in USFS, FIA 1997 and 2017 RPA reports (Tables 33 & 34) and National Forest Annual Cut and Sold Reports.

    Question: Has virtual non-management of the national forest timber resource resulted in healthy, resilient, productive forests best serving the needs of the public and anticipating and mitigating the impacts of climate change?

  8. I await a response to the last question of my July 20 comment.

    In that comment I failed to mention that national forest-dependent counties have poverty rates almost universally higher than the national average of 13.5%, many dramatically higher. For further details check my commentary “New Times Demand New Measures…” in the August 2 issue of the Journal of Forestry, the primary scholarly journal of the Society of American Foresters. Here’s a quote from that article:

    “Meanwhile, in many national forest–dependent counties, forest workers and their families lack the basic needs of economic security and community stability. In these counties, forest industries have closed, local governments have curtailed services, and school districts have reduced staffing and curricula.”

    Non-management has social impacts as well as economic and environmental impacts.

  9. I’ll bite. I don’t agree with the premise that there has been “virtual non-management.” There has been intense management in the form of fire suppression that allowed forest health to deteriorate and delay becoming more resilient to a warmer climate. Other management activities like logging and grazing have contributed to more fragile species diversity, which is a key component of healthy forests.

    “The public” ≠ “forest–dependent counties.”


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