Jim Furnish featured in Greenwire

Jim Furnish was featured in Greenwire yesterday — I think the story is not behind a pay wall: “Retired forest official plants trouble in timber debate.” Excerpt:

For his outspokenness — and for his memoir — Furnish has received a cold shoulder from agency officials and others. No other group, perhaps, is more rankled than former officials who make up the National Association of Forest Service Retirees, said Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, who’s known him since Furnish’s days as a forest supervisor in Oregon in the mid 1990s.

“They hate him,” Stahl said. “He’d be more reviled in that group than anyone I can think of.”

But to groups looking for a shift in Forest Service policies away from heavy logging, Furnish is something of a hero. The Dogwood Alliance, an environmental nonprofit based in Asheville, N.C., and Defenders of Wildlife invited him to speak there in 2017, calling Furnish a “dyed-in-the-wool logging forester transformed into an environmental agent of change within the agency.”

He’s vice president of the board of directors at the Geos Institute, an Ashland, Ore.-based consulting group focused on climate change and environmental protection. And he has served on the advisory board of the Western Environmental Law Center.

43 thoughts on “Jim Furnish featured in Greenwire”

  1. This portion of the referenced article sums it up perfectly:

    “Furnish retired in January 2002, bothered that the George W. Bush administration was backing away from the roadless-area protections he’d helped engineer. He’s still ticking people off. “I think Jim’s doing what Jim has always done: exaggerate and cry fowl no matter the reality,” said Ted Stubblefield, a former forest supervisor at the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in comments posted this month to “The Smokey Wire,” a forest policy blog that published an interview Furnish had done with South Dakota Public Broadcasting, about the situation in the Black Hills.”

    Sure would of been an entirely different direction Furnish’s career would of taken had Al Gore not conceded to the hanging chad election that he had won in Florida. Gore’s plan was for a Salmon Summit much like Clinton’s Spotted Owl summit, as well as billions in funding to buffer streams, remove culverts and enforce Aquatic Conservation Strategies.

    I’ve no doubt that had we gone down this road Furnish would of rose above the braindead butchers who’ve made a career of destroying our public lands. He would of been a prominent leader, maybe even eventually chief of the Forest Service in a new era of using ecosystem science rather than spite and ridicule to maintain the status quo of unsustainable mismanagement and outright fraud.

    And when it comes to those who “exaggerate and cry fowl no matter the reality” I guess congratulations are in order to those who built a career on destroying the forest to save it. Thanks to their endless dishonesty and blatant misinformation they’ve turned the tide and have cultivated popular support for nullifying essential environmental protections to get the cut out no matter how much damage to the ecosystem it causes… And at this point up here in Western Washington Salmon and Orca extinction is finally all but certain thanks to their hard work building a career based on greed and lies every step of the way. History will not be kind to the last generation that was more interested in how much they could destroy rather than how much they could protect.

    Or As George Wuerthner recently said:

    “When you are desperate you are willing to try anything that “might” work. Indeed, a survey in May of adults found 4% admitted to drinking diluted bleach to fight covid. My response is to follow the money. There is a famous line from the writer Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Many forestry schools get a portion of their funding from the timber industry. Forestry schools were established to serve the timber industry. If you are a forestry professor, you know enough not to bite the hand that feeds you.” http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2021/08/06/good-fire-bad-fire-false-paradigm/

    • Deane, you’re questioning the motives of everyone employed in forestry schools? Or only the ones partially funded by timber industry? Do you know which ones those are?

      • Sharon, the people funding forestry schools is probably not the strongest point for how we got to where we are now. Rather it’s more of the origin of the science of forestry as a utilitarian science (commodity production) rather than observational science (bird watching/taxonomy).

        For a very long time it was believed that the original forests were old and stagnant and biologically deserted and that clearing the forest was what brought it back to life. But as the decades went by we began to learn more about the science of forestry than just how to efficiently haul big logs got out of the forests and mill them up and sell them quickly. What’s more over time other competing interests of land use, as well as regeneration failure made the forester’s job more difficult and in more recent decades the expectation of large scale forest wide protection of biodiversity, especially endangered species, got thrown into what was expected of a forester.

        However, the original job of the forester is still seen as the primary purpose of forestry and the forestry schools still reflect that, which is where old ways of thinking about forestry tend to be kept alive via belligerence and obstinance rather than reason and science-based referencing. This is where science is eschewed for Dogma and because of the way the system is set up there’s very little authority from those who aren’t indoctrinated into old school forester ideology.

        For example Mean Annual Increment is a subject we’ve been discussing on Reddit’s forestry channel this weekend. The disproven notion is that trees are like people and once they get into their 60’s and 70’s the tree’s rings show that they stop growing fast and need to be retired/rotated for the next crop of trees. This is still what forestry schools teach. Truth is because trees put on a new layer over the previous years layer than layer is larger. That also means trees pu ton growth faster and faster and faster as they get older until they get damaged, diseased or die. Width of growth rings at stump height might not show that, but whole tree measurements of branches, leaves, live cambium surface area, makes that clear, yet MAI is still being treated as the foundation of what good forestry is based on even though it’s not true: https://www.usgs.gov/news/large-old-trees-grow-fastest-storing-more-carbon

    • I’m going to cry “foul” on this. How can such a simple typo make it this far? Also, I’m with Stub. I was personally familiar with Furnish’s work on the Siuslaw in the 1990s and his subsequent “road trip” when he was with DC. Impressive, but not in a good way, from my perspective. Wuerthner’s insight is right on. He believes 4% of adults drank bleach because of a survey, and also has trust in Furnish’s capabilities as a forest manager. I’m with Stub.

    • DAYUM!!! The timber industry never gave ME any kickbacks for my hard work, over several decades. Was I doing something wrong?!?!? (In truth, some industry reps did not like the way I made them follow the contract they signed.)

      I’ll bet more than 4% of Americans think that nature is controlled by some supreme magical being, too. (And anyone drinking bleach is a …. ahem…. royal putz.)

  2. Ha.. Steve.. when I read this piece I had a couple of thoughts.. Headline 1… Employees Disagree, Headline 2 Retirees Disagree. Sort of a natural progression, I think. Unless retirees stop caring, which many do.

    I also thought “hey The Smokey Wire is mentioned in Greenwire” hurray!

    BTW, Andy, if you’re reading this.. I’m a NAFSR member, and also on the Board.. and I like Jim! Which is not to say that I agree with him all the time.

    Just sayin’ don’t paint NAFSR members with one brush.. because (you know this is coming…) NAFSR members disagree with each other!!!! Because they are retirees who disagree and once were employees who disagree… And yet, I know of no one who “hates” Jim among that group (at least the ones I work with)..

    Point being, if a bunch of people belong to an organization, and some of them have certain views, does that mean all of them do, or somehow “the organization” does?

    But I thought the FS had already moved away from “heavy logging”? And Chief Thomas thought that they were over at least ten years ago as he famously stated here. https://forestpolicypub.com/2012/11/26/the-future-of-the-national-forests-who-will-answer-an-uncertain-trumpet-by-jack-ward-thomas/

    “Most hard core “environmentalists” demonstrated little concern with the social/economic consequences of their victories. Some, figuratively, continued to wander the old battlefields “bayoneting the wounded” via challenges to even minor forest management activities. Victories have consequences. To the victors belong the spoils – and some responsibility to ameliorate consequences of their victories – “you break it – you own it” (Thomas 2001a and 2001b).”

    Hmm rereading that post makes me think that the wildfire crisis might be what ultimately breaks the logjam. Time will tell.

  3. Wow! Lots of opinion here; I don’t like to be painted with only dim colors.

    I respect Jim Furnish, but don’t necessarily agree with what he says.

    As in most news bytes, the devil is in the details, and the Black Hills issue has been brewing at least since the Clinton Administration. I worked as Forest Sup on the “Hills” for a while in 2016, when this thing really took off. In fact, I helped get the funding for FIA to do additional plots for defining growth and harvest (ASQ).

    It is tough being witness to exaggerated harvest, knowing full well the employees doing the planning and field work were working as hard as any group of professionals (and technicians), to do what they were being told. I tried to intervene, and was shot down in flames!

    However, industry and the Agency own this fiasco; anyone with any sense of timber management could see the proverbial writing on the wall. Trump’s fault? Hardly, this fiasco had hit the fan during Obama’s term; need to find a different boogie-man to blame. Either that, or look into the mirror…..

    • Jim Z.. there were also other political forces at work through time.. I remember Senator Daschle’s involvement as well. I think the FS was doing the bidding of each Admin and Congressfolk, which is the way it’s supposed to work. I don’t know what the alternative is.. do what the employees want? But as we know, employees disagree..
      Suppose industry (wind) decided to implement projects that employees felt were impacting sage grouse.. but the industry, admin, and Congressfolk were on board.. would we blame the agency for going along?

      Here’s an old TSW posts.

      Here’s an HCN story on the agreement (insulated from legal challenge)

      • No Sharon, it is simpler than that, I think. I think it boils down to pride, or feeding the beast, and both. The FS has for years held up the Black Hills as, and I quote, “the flagship” of the Agency. Money poured in, the ASQ was inordinately high, the pine beetle ravaged the place and the Jasper fire threatened an already taxed harvest.

        Negotiations to help contain the bark beetle were made with industry (in good faith), with “sunset provisions”. Industry complied and geared up for increased harvest. Nothing, other than widespread, destructive wildfire could have been more detrimental than the bark beetle to the Hills.

        Power is driven by money, and being the “flagship” of the Agency is a mighty fine place to build careers. Now, industry is facing hard decision to “de-escalate” harvest, and it doesn’t taste to well.

        Listen to employees? Listen to industry? Nah, let’s let science take us to where we need to be. The politics just demonstrate how to muck up a rather simple decision…..

      • Jim Z tells it how it happened. This is not a case of the employees getting what they want other than the FS to follow the law (NFMA). Long-term sustainably is a bedrock of that Act and I don’t think it’s asking too much for the FS, and politicians for that matter, to follow it.

  4. “the wildfire crisis might be what ultimately breaks the logjam. Time will tell.”

    I think so, too. Congress is hearing from constituents — states, cities, counties, citizens, etc. — and seeing frequent coverage of fires and scientific reports on the need to increase the pace and scale of fuels/forest health work. If the past few fire seasons don’t break the logjam, what will?

    • Steve, I was just writing a note to my brother about this very topic the other day – he wanted to know my perspective on Chief Moore’s shelving of the FS “let burn” policy (a response to this year’s wildfire situation). I believe that the American will not tolerate accelerated logging on hundreds of thousands of acres in the name of fuel management. However, how much longer will this same public tolerate hundreds of thousands of acres burned by wildfires, which also include homes/communities and human life?

      • What is “accelerated logging” in today’s federal forests? It isn’t the clearcuts that were so divisive in the past. It’s thinning and treating fuels, yes, often with commercial sales.

        • Steve – my use of “accelerated” was to represent the Forest Service’s platform of “increase the pace and scale” of timber harvest. I agree that the level of logging contemplated today is far less than what was executed in past decades. However, that is my point of the public’s tolerance of logging – the public’s resistance is partly based on what they saw occur when logging levels were much higher. I perceive that they would not want to see a return to those past logging levels, so when they hear “increased pace and scale”, their past experience is their reference point even though the FS can clearly show that current timber proposals will not approach those past logging levels. Yet, through wildfire, the amount of acres affected are drastically exceeding the number of acres that are logged.

          It reminds me of helping propose timber sales in the 1990s and the common public response was “no more clearcutting!” The proposal did not have the word (or concept) of “clearcutting” in it – those proposals were typically “thin from below” timber actions. Yet, people believed, based on their past experience, that clearcutting was going to occur with the proposal.

          • But it’s not “increase the pace and scale of timber harvest”; it’s increase the pace and scale of restoration/resilience efforts, with the amount of commercial harvest from those projects varying from 0 to something way less than 100% depending on the conditions?

            • I agree that is the public message, but at the local office, the message is translated as “get the cut out”. I acknowledge that this local message is not universal across the country, but the message does have a significant presence in the management conversation.

          • Anthony, I don’t recall hearing, recently, the USFS saying their goal is to ‘increase the pace and scale” of timber harvest.’ But I have heard, many times, that the goal is to “increase the pace and scale of fuels reduction and forest restoration.”

            • You are correct – those are the words used publicly. It is a different message inside the agency. I am not saying it is wrong, only that when a person such as Jim Furnish speaks to more holistic management, the internal messengers (“get the cut out”) react with ruffled feathers.

              As with most things these days, we have seen this happen before.

          • All too often, eco-groups show pictures of private logging, but promote it as Forest Service greed. I agree that BOTH extremes are not helping restore resilience. If the bad actors can be marginalized, then we can collaborate towards consensus, resulting in compromise. Sadly, the good things the Forest Service does are not seen by people (on both sides) who care about the environment. Since both extremes are knowingly lying to us, we should just ignore those people, as much as possible, and call them all out for their actions.

    • The illusion that humans can control/manage wildfire rather than being controlled/managed by wildfire will no longer be an illusion in the future.

      All the romanticizing making indigenous people managers of the entire continent with the tool of fire is way overblown.

      And how often do we wait for winter weather to put out a wildfire despite spending tens of millions of dollars and failing to stop it till it gets put out by rain and snow?

      And the folly of humans thinking they can make forests more fire resilient with chainsaws and controlled burns. How in the world can you predict where the fires are going to be next? And how in the world can we make any difference at all when millions of acres burn every year and we’re hard pressed to treat even 100K acres a year. Even with all our modern technology in 2021 we still can’t do much to stop the worst of these fires…

      I’m certain that hundred years from now history will look back on this time as a the era when all our solutions to catastrophic wildfire were in avoidance of the fact that it will get worse and worse until we reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

      • There ARE other benefits to commercial thinning projects, plus they also will pay for some non-commercial work, at the same time. It’s important to at least look at the “Purpose and Need” of projects, before criticizing them.

  5. These discussions have stimulated me to re-read Jim’s memoir, “Toward a Natural Forest; The Forest Service in Transition.” His perspective has evolved over a lifetime and he has gained valuable insights at all levels into how the Forest Service has historically operated and how it needs to transition to a new paradigm. As Char Miller describes him: “Furnish’s vision rejects rampant exploitation AND extreme preservationism in favor of what he describes as a middle ground, ‘where fundamental stewardship humbly, modestly, and sustainably utilizes what is produced and provided by nature.'” “These beneficial and essential environmental services can be enjoyed in perpetuity as long as we do not irreparably damage our forests, soils, water, and air.” “That’s a tall order, made even more daunting in a climate-distorted era.” The credo that Jim asks the Agency to live up to is one of “Caring for the Land and Serving the People.” The days of “Timber is King” are over. Ecosystem services, climate change, and wildfires are the now new rulers. We’re starting to realize that there is more economic (and ecological) value in resources other than timber.

  6. Humbly, modestly, and sustainably – words to live by. But, the counterargument will be that a management approach with these characteristics will not be enough to address the stated problem of “too many trees, not enough cutting”. I say, “so be it”.

    • My argument is that we can agree on the concepts of humble, modest and sustainable, and yet disagree on exactly what to do on the land. Is it more humble to leave things be or manage to improve climate resilience as we currently understand it? In which specific ways? If we’re really humble we might say we have no clue about the future.. so what is the most humble and modest way to proceed?

      I’d say trying to keep negative impacts of fires to people, wildlife, soils and watersheds would be high on the list. PS I thought the days of timber being kind ended a while back. Which will be an interesting discussion. As others have pointed out, the Hills is unique. Is timber king on the White River or the Rio Grande? What would that look like?

      • “Timber being king” is relative. If the Forest leadership team is consumed on a daily basis how the Forest is going to meet its timber target (regardless of the volume amount), then none of the other programs are receiving due consideration (diminishing the investment in multiple use on that forest). The volume target does not need to be a large number in order it to be the dominant topic to invest resources.

        • That’s an interesting metric.. it would be interesting to hear from current FLT members across the country about whether/to what extent that’s currently the case. In my experience, it was one of many things to be concerned with, and mostly the concern of the Timber People on the forest. But that was a long time ago and on forests far far away.

          • “mostly the concern of the Timber People”
            Yes, but are the Timber People the ones the Decision-making People listen to the most (and hear most clearly)?

  7. The Black Hills National Forest has been broken since at least 1899 when FS Case Number One was inaugurated. 150 years ago Populus tremuloides was the predominant deciduous tree species on the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountain Complex. Aspen, the most widely distributed deciduous tree species on Earth, is critical to the survival of the Black Hills’ unique ecotones.

    In 1977 we chunked bug-hit pine on the BHNF then sprayed Malathion®, a widely used insecticide and legion for its toxicity contains a surfactant that ran unchecked into Black Hills streams.

    Beaver communities rely on aspen to slow runoff and store water supplies but on the Black Hills they’ve been trapped to threatened status. Aspen shoots are favorite browse for elk and bison now mostly eliminated from the Forest. Pine needles absorb heat and shed snowmelt, aspen leaves reflect sunlight in summer and hold snowpacks well into Spring.

    Paha Sapa (“hills that are black” may have been a reference to burnt timber instead of the accepted, “seen from a distance”) hasn’t been a natural forest since 1863 when a nearly Hills-wide fire (probably set by humans hoping to clear pine), opened grazing for distinct historic ungulates.

    Brown and Sieg have noted at least 77 instances of human-induced wildfire on the pre-settlement Hills. But, mycologists report disruption in the fungal communities associated with aspen: the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus, v. populinus, is in steep decline. The saprophytic mushrooms often associated with human consumption are the most important bioremediators of toxins presenting on the Forest. Morels fruit after fires in mixed pine/aspen habitat to entice animals to deposit organic material; bison and elk will crawl on their knees and loll their long tongues for morels growing under dead-fallen pine trees. The suppression of fire threatens that relationship, too. Evidence exists that sudden aspen death is attributable to non-point sources of pollution, ie. POEA, polyethyoxilated tallowamine, a surfactant present in Monsanto’s Roundup®, is a prime suspect. POEA interferes with mycorrhiza and their ability to metabolize water.

    The Forest Service manages about 1.25 million acres in the Hills, most of the other 5.5 million acres of the Black Hills hydrologic region are privately held lands whose owners largely blame forest failures on Federal or State mismanagement. Ponderosa pine draws water from deep sources in ore-bearing formations and transpires both water vapor and heavy metal oxides downwind, aspen stores more surface water.

    I have been covering effects of the surfactant POEA for nearly three decades. Today, wapiti (elk) in the Mountain West are dying en masse from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that some researchers say results from the federal government feeding those cervids in close proximity. Hay fed to those animals is likely contaminated with Roundup®. Studies have shown POEA can break down tissue that protects the blood-brain barrier leading to prion disease. Kill off apex predators like wolves and cougars; spray glyphosate and POEA on everything then wonder why cervids contract a prion disease like CWD.

    It’s been over forty years since attorney Mario Gonzalez filed the federal court case stopping payment of the Black Hills Claim award to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Gonzalez contends that the commission charged to make peace with tribes inserted language into the Fort Laramie Treaty signed in 1868 that Red Cloud had neither seen nor agreed to in negotiations. Today, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has passed resolutions condemning what they say are abuses of the General Mining Law of 1872 that led to the Custer Expedition’s discovery of gold in the Black Hills.

    The South Dakota Democratic Party should advocate for paying the tribes and settling the Black Hills Claim, dissolving the Black Hills National Forest, moving management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

    Rewild it and rename it He Sapa or Paha Sapa National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Pecos River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

    • And if all this came to pass would the lands be better “managed”? Would the social, ecological, and economics of these lands, plants, animals and people be better served? Would it be a place where you and your children could thrive and be happy?
      Or are you just talking about rewilding in the hope that the lands will be left alone and all people can relocate elsewhere? Or maybe just those people of Native American heritage will be allowed to occupy these lands?

  8. South Dakota’s Republican politicians are just pawns of the intense timber lobbying efforts of Hulett, Wyoming based Neiman Enterprises, the extraction industry and from welfare ranchers addicted to cheap grazing fees. They have teamed up with Wyoming Senator Liz Cheney to make sure the Black Hills are reduced to piles of timber slash.

    Instead of allowing native aspen to be restored, stands of doghair ponderosa pine (ladder fuels that feed wildfires) cover much of the Black Hills National Forest. Spurred by the Neimans the Forest Service is still planting pine in the Jasper Fire area.

    But the BHNF is not just under attack from the logging industry.

    Thanks to the Trump Organization the United States is in debt to the tune of $22 TRILLION and US consumer debt is north of $74 TRILLION so the US is encouraging mining companies from outside the country to drill more holes in the Earth looking for gold and silver. The surging price of gold means Republicans and foreign miners see the sacred Black Hills as a sacrifice zone so now they want to buy land south of Lead from the Forest Service and deed it to the State of South Dakota. Brohm was an Australian company recruited by a now-dead Republican governor who gutted environmental protection in South Dakota.

    Acknowledging there will always be acid mine drainage in the Black Hills the Republican-owned South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment is dealing with still another devil who wants to strip mine the Gilt Edge Superfund site hoping the US Environmental Protection Agency becomes a tool of the extraction industry. South Dakota is no stranger to ecocide because it’s a way of life in the chemical toilet. Under the General Mining Law of 1872 even foreign miners have carte blanche to rape the Black Hills, so they are. At least five transients want to poke the Black Hills but it’s happening throughout the Intermountain West.

    The Republican South Dakota Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination has even awarded a water permit to a Canadian miner drilling test holes near Keystone and Rochford. Mineral Mountain Resources has been trucking water in 3000 gallon tanks from Lead for lubrication and wants to take at least ten gallons a minute from wells near the test holes. While exploratory holes normally take millions of gallons of water they tend to have minimal impact on the Forest itself but the drillers usually sell their data to bigger miners like Barrick, a Canadian earth raper.

    Rochford area residents say British Columbia-based Mineral Mountain Resources destroyed Forest Service Road 184A during their drilling of some 7,500 acres in the Homestake Gold Belt on public lands and at a private site known as the Standby Mine Target.

    Wharf Resources has filed a Notice of Intent to do exploratory drilling in a new area close to its current strip mine and cyanide leach pads in the Northern Hills where it recorded $72.5 million in profits for 2020.

    Jim Neiman’s Devils Tower Forest Products enjoys a virtual timber monopoly in the Black Hills whose customers include Pella Windows and fellow Republican backer Menards.

  9. Why does “clearcutting” continue to get a bad rap? Don’t people understand the differences between managing Douglas fir and yellow pine? Didn’t Mt. St. Helens, the Columbus Day Storm, and the Labor Day Fires teach us anything? How about restoration of prairies, meadows, oak savannahs, and huckleberry fields that have been invaded with D. fir over the past 150 years? Haven’t the subsequent predicted wildfires that resulted demonstrated the advantages of returning to a variegated landscape? How to get there without clearcuts or needing to depend on volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and/or wildfires? Clearcutting has always seemed a valuable tool that needed refining, NOT elimination.

  10. Like many lengthening threads, this one is veering a bit off the main issue: The BHNF is on a NON-SUSTAINABLE track. And the methods used to harvest timber there are inappropriate given the current situation. I’m all for good timber mgmt there — it has been a showcase forest in the past. A big concern going forward is the lack of any coherent old-growth policy, and the pervasive practice of removing all legacy trees.
    Let’s talk about THAT!

    • Jim, thanks, I’m waiting to hear the BHNF side of the story, it’s somewhere in the FS being cleared. I think that will help move the dialogue forward.

    • Right on Jim! Thanks for standing up and helping us with the situation on the Black Hills. It takes courage to stand up and tell it like it is, even if one is retired. You open yourself up to ridicule and negativity. The problem is is that what is happening on the Black Hills goes against the narrative, that the FS is not cutting enough and that the mill capacity has gone away. While that may certainly be true on a number of Forests it is not the situation on the Black Hills. What we have here is what happens when you have an industry that is highly dependent on FS timber and the ends up pulling the strings. They cry “we have to thin the forest or it will burn up like California!” Never mind that much of the Forest has already been thinned (either by mountain pine beetle or logging) or burned up. Now they are down to doing overstory removal on stands there were thinned 4-5 years ago. The last thing that senior FS leadership wants is a Forest that says it needs to reduce its cut. Their response has been to just keep on cutting and that is what Jim is upset about. I guess I would hope that most FS employees and retirees would also be upset, try to learn the facts and do something about it, because it is antithetical to what most of us thought the FS was about, or at least hoped it would be.

  11. Forty years ago I logged in the Buckhorn and Moskee, Wyoming areas of the Black Hills when much of it was owned by Homestake Mining Company. At that time it was home to some of the last old-growth ponderosa pine stands in the region. We operated a belt-driven portable sawmill powered by a John Deere tractor on private ground where I cut and skidded some huge bug-killed trees.

    Needing a new boogeyman the Republican Party began hating the Earth in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

    In 2010 after Barrick acquired Homestake it returned some Wyoming holdings to the tribes; and, after it takes responsibility for its complicity in the destruction of the Missouri River Basin it should divest of its remaining holdings in the sacred Black Hills remanding them to the owners by treaty.

    In 2012, Wyoming Public Radio’s News Director Bob Beck began an interview with Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) asking the question: “Senator, why do you hate the environment?”

    Add the very high number of private inholdings within the Black Hills National Forest that make the wildland urban interface (WUI) very large to one of the highest road densities in the entire national forest system and Region 2 to lots of grazing, logging, hardrock mining and pesticides like Carbaryl then understand why over a hundred species in South Dakota alone and a million worldwide are at risk to Donald Trump, Liz Cheney, Dusty Johnson, Jim Neiman and the Republican Party.

  12. Hey Bob Zybach, what DID the Columbus Day storm teach us? Just asking because the Siuslaw salvaged about 700 mmbf after that Oct 1962 event affected a forest uniformly about 100 yrs old, with relatively little of the landscape clearcut. After 30 more years of clearcutting D fir, an almost identical storm hit the Coast Range and a comprehensive assessment revealed almost zero blowdown, even though about 60% of the forest remained uncut and was now 130 yrs old. Interested in your interpretation.

    • As a six-year-old in Eugene, I have unusually vivid memories of the Columbus Day storm. Being released from school at noon to walk home through the pastures under a sky darkening as if nighttime. Dad staking down the crab apple tree in the front yard. Blankets tacked over our living room’s large windows.

      I was also in Eugene during the 1996 storm. During that storm, like similar ones in 1973, 1975, 1981, etc., it rained a lot. But the wind? Not in the same ballpark as the Columbus Day’s 145 mph, with gusts up to 175 mph.

      In addition to its typhoon-speed winds, I wonder if the coast range’s trees were less well adapted to the unusual aspect of the storm. It blew up the Willamette Valley from the south, not from the west, as is more common.

      • FYI, according to Wikipedia, on the Columbus Day storm: “In less than 12 hours, more than 11 billion board feet (26,000,000 m3) of timber was blown down in northern California, Oregon and Washington combined…”

        Remember the “Great Coastal Gale of 2007”? It blew down or damaged 360 million board feet on 15,350 acres, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

        There’s a great ArcGIS StoryMap on the 2007 storm here:


    • Hey Jim Furnish, I was just returning from high school in Portland when the Columbus Day Storm hit, with no warning. I actually thought it was a good idea to buy a 10-cent kite at the store and head to the park with the first gusts — then it really began. My four- or five-block walk home after have the kite and string (five-cents) blown out of my hands was punctuated with falling trees, downed powerlines and true fear. There has been nothing like it since. The Siuslaw was side-swiped — not a direct hit or you would have a different narrative.

      Most of the marbled murrelet “critical habitat” definition came from a Douglas fir on the Siuslaw that was claimed to be — in peer-reviewed literature — “300 year-old old-growth” and was actually part of the 1868 second-growth stand that sprang up after the fire that year. About 100 years old at the time of the Columbus Day Storm, as you state. Today, with an elimination of clearcutting, roads, and most other active management, elk, deer, songbird and butterfly populations have all but disappeared on the Siuslaw. A restoration of southern balds, meadows and ridgeline trails would help rejuvenate these populations, but restoring those areas would require better planning, regular maintenance, and probably clearcutting. In my opinion.

      • Jim Furnish: Part 2. Maybe you are unfamiliar with the major road-building and logging that went on in the Siuslaw beginning with WW II. From 1942 until 1962 a lot of logging actually did take place on the Siuslaw. Same with spruce following WW I, but that was mostly river logging, rather than road. You should know this history. Dahl Kirkpatrick’s 1928 report is a good start.

  13. Bob Z: I know that history. I worked for Dahl’s son John on San Juan NF in 1980s. Siuslaw “came to life” with advent of WWII and then got into logging/roading big time in the years hence. High vol/acre meant that relatively little land fell to the saw each year(thus Columbus Day storm encountered mostly fire-derived natural forest), but cumulative effect 40+ years of cc’ing really left its mark by 1990.
    I think you and Andy Stahl disagree about which storm was worse. I don’t agree that Siuslaw was just “side-swiped.”


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