Rim Fire Recovery Retrospective

This article, “5 years after massive fire near Yosemite, forest restoration may be in peril,” quotes Chad Hansen; John Buckley, executive director of the nonprofit Central Sierra Nevada Environmental Resource Center; some USFS staffers; and Malcomb North, a scientist at the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. I wish the article had included more info from North on the science!

“Its centerpiece is a federally funded community and watershed resilience program touted as a model for helping small town economies and wildlife habitats bounce back after wildfires throughout the western United States.

“But now, five years after the fire, there is growing concern that the grand partnership is crumbling due to delays, frustration and a tug-of-war between preservationists and logging advocates backed by the Trump administration.”

7 thoughts on “Rim Fire Recovery Retrospective”

  1. In other similar articles, Hanson claims that the Forest Service clearcuts in salvage projects. His claims are, again, baseless. Either produce evidence in the form of projects plans and maps, or it didn’t happen.

  2. “But Jason Kuiken, supervisor of the Stanislaus National Forest, acknowledges his team is “under pressure to get more wood out.””

    Yes, timber volume targets are going up, and are apparently driving what the Forest Service does on the ground. After years of trying to get the public to believe that they were managing the forests, it looks like they are back to just cutting the trees.

    “The agency’s plan for Forest Products in FY19 is notable, however, for the significant increase in timber sales it projects, despite the cut in funding. The Forest Service’s budget justification document lists 3.7 billion board feet as the target for timber sales in FY19. That’s 500 million board feet – 16 percent – more than the target for the last three years, and more timber than the Forest Service has sold in any year since 1997.”

  3. I understand that many in the Forest Service are now sensitive about having to “get the cut out” when that conflicts with ecology-driven forestry (especially when the orders come with reduced funding), and that the “cut” is nowhere what it once was. But when there are persistent reports of “pressure,” you know there are corners being “cut” as well. Both ecologically and legally.

    • Any additional volume would still have to follow the current rules, laws and policies, which have been in place for a long time. In the past, Congress has specifically sent more money to the Stanislaus (and Sierra) National Forests to help them meet their targets. They did not meet those targets, and the additional funding went away.

      Now, chances are, the ASQ ‘mislabels’ some lands as “Capable and Suitable” but, in reality, those lands are problematic to thin, for one or more reasons. That seems to be the case on many Forests, as you know. ASQ’s need to be fluid, especially in this Age of the Megafires. Clearly, the “pace and scale” has little chance to be significant, in the Sierra Nevada, under the current funding, personnel and rules. We’re just not progressive enough to accept and fund what is needed.


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