Ara Mardosarian of Sequoia ForestKeeper posted this as a comment on an earlier thread. Since it is specific and about something new, I am posting it here to get more discussion.
On 31 May 2019, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy held a field trip regarding a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Redevelopment (HUD) funding application by Stanislaus National Forest for $70 million, through the National Disaster Resilience Competition, to salvage log burned areas of the 2013 Rim Fire FOR BIOMASS BURNING – A DESTRUCTIVE CLEARCUTS-FOR-KILOWATTS SCHEME. This field trip was attended by 80 persons, including members of more than 20 environmental organizations in opposition to post-fire salvage logging, including Sierra Club and Sequoia ForestKeeper. Dr. Chad Hanson, John Muir Project Fire Ecologist, and Dr. Dominick DellaSala, Geos Institute Director, lead the effort to defend the position to not salvage log recovering burned forest habitats. Brandon Collins, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station, said there was little to no conifer regeneration within the Rim Fire. We saw seedling regeneration at multiple sites. And the Forest Service saw the seedlings growing in the Rim Fire snag forest habitats as fuel, when we see this as biodiverse habitat. Besides providing habitat for Black-backed woodpeckers and other cavity nesting species, standing burned dead trees/snags provide cooling shade that helps hold the moisture in the ground for the already-growing, natural tree seedling regeneration and for eventual delivery of that retained drinking water to communities below the forest. At no time did the Forest Service acknowledge the value of the standing burned dead trees/snags for sequestering carbon in the forest or counteracting the climate crisis. The agencies would not even address the repeated queries about the emissions from biomass power generation that the project would cause. The blatant climate science denial and antipathy toward nature by the Forest Service and its supporters (John Buckley, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center), (David Edelson, The Nature Conservancy), and (Craig Thomas, Fire Restoration Group) of this clearcuts-for-kilowatts scheme was stunning. Why is $70 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Redevelopment (HUD) disaster funds going to log federal forests (creating unnatural flammable conditions) when those funds should be spent on community disaster relief? This $70 million of HUD funding should, instead, be applied to the real disaster of the Camp Fire in Butte County, to help the victims in Paradise, California who lost everything.
Note: I think we should be consistent about calling people Drs. or not.. it appears that Brandon Collins is arguably just as much of a Dr. as Hanson and Della Salla, plus his research is equally, or more, relevant, depending on your point of view. Here’s a link to his papers.
Mardosarian makes several claims in this comment that are interesting and worthy of discussion:
1. Collins said there was little or no regeneration (did he say this? is the first question and “is it true?” is the second question).
2. The Forest Service saw seedlings as fuel (in my history with the Forest Service we didn’t think this way, but perhaps times have changed).
3. Standing dead provide shade and reduce moisture loss. I don’t know if this is true but it sounds plausible. But of course dead trees ultimately fall down and dry out, and when burning can potentially damage soil.
4. The shade of standing dead treese provide better microenvironments for seedling establishment and/or growth than open areas.
5. Standing dead sequester carbon in the forest (is that better than being turned into wood products? I think this depends on assumptions)
I am interested in the mechanisms by which people think that standing and fallen dead trees “counteract the climate crisis.”
6. Emissions. If Californians are worried about emissions from biomass energy (unclear whether particulates or CO2), then the obvious answer would be to sell the material to other markets, like our friends in BC, or for CLT, or to turn into biochar or …? To what extent does the ultimate use matter.
In my own experience with a broad range of individuals in the FS and TNC, as we worked on climate change and other issues, they were not “climate deniers” nor have an “antipathy to nature”. Certainly, as Dr. Tom Mills used to say, “reasonable people could disagree” about salvage logging in a specific place at a specific time.
This seems to be the agenda for the tour. If someone has a photo