Some Smokey Wire Follow-ups: Old Growth and “Mature” ENGO Campaign and Employee Search Back Online

Employee Search Back Up!

This was pointed out in a comment but for those not following that thread, the Forest Service employee search website is back up! Many thanks to the FS folks who made that happen.

Old-growth/Mature Forest Campaign

I posted a link to the WaPo article on a new campaign by some ENGOs about protecting old and mature trees for climate change. Here’s a link to the campaign itself.

Kirin Kennedy, Director, People and Nature Policy at Sierra Club. “By making protections for mature and old-growth trees and forests across America’s public lands a cornerstone of US climate policy, he can fulfill this promise and set an example for the world.”

So I wrote the contact at the Sierra Club and asked some questions.:

1. Do you have a definition of what you mean by old or “mature” trees? We’re not familiar with the latter term.
2. Would you be willing to share the funding source for this campaign?
3. Are there specific projects (other than the Tongass) that are of concern?

Here are the answers:

1. Mature trees are the stage prior to become old-growth. If we let them grow, they will become old-growth and provide even greater carbon benefits. Mature forests are starting to show the characteristics needed for old forest habitat to maintain biodiversity. There are trees of different sizes and ages, including some dead trees. And of course, they’re full of mature trees, which are absorbing a lot of carbon dioxide. Not all tree species grow to be the same size or age and there are many different types of forests in the U.S., so a mature forest looks different depending on where you are. But somewhere around the age of 70-90, most tree species will have hit maturity when it comes to absorbing carbon dioxide.

2. So the campaign is a coalition of grassroots organizations. There’s no funding uniquely for this campaign; we all just carve out time from our daily work with our respective NGOs to work on the campaign.

3. It’s not solely limited to the Tongass. There are national forests and forests on Bureau of Land Management land all across the United States. So these types of trees and forests are in 42 of the 50 states.

Then I asked this question, to which I have not yet received an answer and it’s been a few weeks.

“I’d like to dive a little deeper. As you know the Infrastructure Bill has much funding for wildfire mitigation including forest thinning. Is the position of this group that forest thinning should not occur if the trees taken are over 70 years old? or ??? Please explain how your campaign’s position and forest thinning/fuel treatment efforts link together.”

I suggested to various journalists that this might make an interesting story if they could get answers from the campaign ENGO’s on this. Maybe I picked the wrong one? Any help to get an answer on this would be appreciated.

3 thoughts on “Some Smokey Wire Follow-ups: Old Growth and “Mature” ENGO Campaign and Employee Search Back Online”

  1. I can comment on wildfire threats in old growth forests specifically in New Hampshire and Vermont. Our old growth forests use several criteria to define including structure and functionality. I will simplify the discussion by using one factor, age with 150 years for mixed types, and 200 years for hemlock old growth. The coarse woody debris, including logs lying on the ground are veritable reservoirs of moisture as they decay away. Even our red spruce old growth has a high moisture content in the coarse woody debris. Wildfires in our old growth forests are rarities. They get snuffed out by the moisture of extinction. I have seen several wildfires on adjacent managed lands that burned hot there and then died down once they hit the old growth. These managed forests had more sun and wind exposure that dried out the fuels and allowed the fires to burn more intensely. In conclusion I would say that there is obviously no one wildfire mitigation solution that works everywhere. Any thinning in old growth forests here would be counter productive for many reasons, wildfire for one.

    • Thanks, David, you raise a good point. It doesn’t make sense to have a “one size fits all” policy (probably based on ideas from folks on the Coasts thinking of mesic forests) to apply across the country. Puzzling why these ENGOs think it does. The White Mountain is one of my favorite forests.

  2. For some people, a tree is “mature” when it become merchantable (10.0 inches in diameter). Such suppressed trees (over 70 years old) will never turn into large, ancient and majestic trees. The idea that ‘natural succession’ is an immutable natural law is unscientific. There are plenty of examples where seral stages are skipped or even ‘back-sliding’ to an earlier stage. Of course, human impacts tend to defy ‘natural succession’, and that reality is often ignored.


Leave a Comment

Discover more from The Smokey Wire : National Forest News and Views

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading