As to environmental groups, there’s a quote from Chris Topik, at The Nature Conservancy:
“If we are going to have a chance at combating climate change, forests are one of our best tools for mitigation because they sequester carbon,” said Chris Topik, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Restoring America’s Forests initiative. “So it’s vital that we help them to adapt.”
And then there’s the “science” angle. The story says “some biologists,” but only one is quoted.
Not everyone considers the plan a good idea. Some biologists say science does not back up the efficacy of the treatments proposed, particularly logging and the prescribed burns that the Forest Service calls necessary for lodgepole pine to reproduce and more diverse species to take root.
“They say they are going to reduce fuel loads to limit wildfires, and the literature doesn’t support that,” said Daniel B. Tinker, an associate professor at the University of Wyoming, who has studied the region for 23 years. “We’ve had fires this summer that burned through areas that were clear-cut 15 years ago. Those stands weren’t supposed to burn for 100 years.”
Reducing fuel loads, as we have seen, to change fire behavior and to provide opportunities for suppression forces to operate, are indeed supported by massive amounts of literature and the relatively humble fuels treatment effectiveness reports, as we have shown on this blog. Taking a look at Tinker’s recent pubs on the U of Wyo website here, doesn’t convince me that he’s an expert on wildfires nor fuels. But good one to the WaPo for interviewing someone local.
We can read this and instead think that conservation groups are divided on this.. first we have TNC, and then we have WEG.
Conservation groups also say that the Forest Service truncated scientific review in a rush to meet congressional demands for increased timber production on public lands. For now, the proposal does not specify which parcels would be targeted and where those hundreds of miles of road would be built.
“They are trying to fast-track this,” said Marla Fox, an attorney for WildEarth Guardians. “This is in line with the agency’s shift and approach under the Trump administration to ‘get out the cut,’ which means ‘let’s do some logging in the name of restoration.’ ”
NEPA-ites may chuckle at the use of “rush” when talking about an EIS. The article also says “Some pushback is internal. A group of Forest Service employees is skeptical that the agency can pull off an undertaking of this size.” Now I don’t doubt that many FS employees think different things, but this makes it sound like current employees are “pushing back” whatever that means. It sounds as if Andy polls a bunch of employees before he says anything, which I don’t think is the case (Andy?).
One more thing on this topic. Andy’s quote was that there is not enough money, which is of course probably true- but they’re setting the table, not guaranteeing a specific menu at a specific time. To my mind, the Med-Bow is not like the 4FRI at all. When I was working, I heard much about the ups and downs of industry in that area, and I admit that I don’t know what the story is currently. Still, I did see log trucks last summer there, so the industry is currently working. I might have interviewed someone from the industry on their situation, or Bill Crapser, the State Forester, if I had written the article or even NAFSR, the retiree organization. I suspect NAFSR would say something like:
“The U.S. Forest Service has been trying to move this direction for several years but has not yet been successful due to the novelty and technical complexity involved,” Andrew Larson, associate professor at the University of Montana, noted in an email. “If this project moves forward to implementation, it will become a case study in how to approach truly large-scale landscape planning and management.”
And what kind of professor is Dr. Larson, we might ask? Here’s some info. He’s also a forest ecologist. Which would mean that scientists (even within a sub-field) may not exactly agree with each other. Just like conservation groups and everyone else..