In reading the press about wildfires in California, I took notice of whom was quoted about what. Of all of the stories, I found this one particularly interesting and different in terms of the people interviewed. Jeff Daniels, a CNBC reporter, interviewed the head of the California Forestry Association and a representative from the Sierra Club. Now, you would expect them to have different views on mechanical fuel treatments- but perhaps not so much.
“The industry is certainly prepared to assist and encourage and support the thinning of our forests,” said Gordon. “We can actually have more resilient, fire resistant forests if we thin them a little bit.”
Wood agrees that the selective removal of trees to reduce fuels and a more robust timber strategy in the state “can be a piece of the puzzle” to reduce the fire risk.
Note that Gordon does not say that we can “log our way out of having fires”- he says it’s a “piece of the puzzle to reduce fire risk.” Here’s what he has to say about clearcutting:
Gordon, the trade group’s CEO, insists the industry isn’t pushing for more clear-cutting of forested lands — a practice the Sierra Club opposes. Rather, he said, the industry advocates “selectively removing smaller trees on a landscape so that the bigger trees (which are more resilient to fire and store more carbon) can survive and do better.”
So it sounds like CFA is in agreement with the Sierra Club. Here’s what a representative of the Sierra Club said:
Kathryn Phillips, director of the Sierra Club California, said the environmental group is not opposed to what she calls “selective logging and those sort of things. We’re opposed to going in and unnecessarily disrupting the environment and doing forest management practices that will lead to worse fires, and some forest practices do.”
She said the practice of clear-cutting and planting trees all at the same time creates added risk for the forest because “you don’t have diversity. That makes them more susceptible to fires. Older trees tend to burn less and slower. So you want to have a lot of diversity.”
So CFA and the Sierra Club are in agreement? Of course, Phillips might be talking about private lands. And I don’t think that the FS has been doing clearcuts for some time.. so..
One thing that I wondered about is whether the Sierra Club has changed its mind about “logging in the National Forests”. Some of us remember about 25 years ago, when that one of their positions (here’s one story about it). Did they change their minds about selling trees from federal forests sometime in the last 25 years? Was there an announcement?
If the Sierra Club and CFA have the same point of view, then, where is the conflict? Does someone know of a specific recent fuel reduction project in the National Forests of California that the Sierra Club was opposed to and why?