Mature and Old Growth (MOG), Moggies, and the Western Governors’ Letter


Moggies are cute and furry creatures. MOG is a political bone (:)) thrown to certain ENGOs, making unnecessary work for the rest of us. Hiss!

The Mature and Old Growth (MOG) comment period requested by USDA and BLM recently closed.  The Retiree Gossip Network says there is pressure from entities in the White House to USDA to hurry up with this effort, despite the need for consultation with Tribes and States, and public comment.  The Western Govs, though, don’t seem to be in the same place,  at least not in writing. It is not lost on them that more restrictions could easily be in conflict with other USG priorities like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the IRA.

Here’s what the Western Governors think..(my bold)

Western Governors are encouraged that the EO requires the Departments to consult with states as they work to establish a definition framework and use the framework to create an inventory of old-growth and mature forests. Early, meaningful, substantive and ongoing consultation is an integral component of any durable and effective land management strategy. This consultation will also facilitate the incorporation of state expertise, data and documentation into federal decision-making processes and land management activities.

WGA Policy Resolution 2021-03 articulates Governors’ support for increasing the pace and scale of restoration activities on western forests and rangelands, mitigating the potential effects of uncharacteristic wildfire, and supporting fire-adapted communities in the West. The resolution also highlights how a narrow focus on specific land management goals, such as carbon sequestration through old-growth forest conservation, can conflict with a more holistic management paradigm that seeks to satisfy a broader range of ecological and societal values. As the Departments implement Section 2 of the EO, Western Governors encourage you to comprehensively consider the various goals and values reflected in the Order.

Western Governors also engage on wildfire and land management policy through WGA Policy Resolution 2023-01, Working Lands, Working Communities. The resolution emphasizes Governors’ support for the integration of land management, fire management, and water protection functions within and between federal agencies, states and territories, and local communities. The resolution also underscores the need for sufficient infrastructure, access, and workforce necessary for communities to support forest and rangeland management activities.

10 thoughts on “Mature and Old Growth (MOG), Moggies, and the Western Governors’ Letter”

  1. That bolded sentence is pregnant with irony.

    Conservation of mature & old-growth harmonizes with diverse public goals including clean water, climate mitigation & adaptation, biodiversity conservation, recreation, quality of life, fire resilience, and fiduciary responsibility.

    Logging is the activity that is least harmonious with public values, because it undermines all of those things listed above.

    • 2nd, I’m curious as to how you define “logging”
      I’m assuming that cutting is involved.
      (1) Does the size, or the number per acre of woody plants cut matter to your definition?
      (2) Once it is cut, does it matter whether it is left in situ or
      burned, or taken off the site?
      (3) Does it matter if the material is used by someone either for personal or commercial use?

      If you’re going to say that “logging” undermines “climate adaptation” it would be good to get a specific definition. Because folks who make openings for early seral species such as western white pine are adding to climate adaptation and biodiversity in their view. So maybe the difference is in your definition of “logging.”

      Is it removal of woody material (trees and shrubs)? Does size or number of stems matter?

    • 2nd Law: For more than 100 years the verb “conservation” was defined as “wise use.” Now you (and many others) are acting as if it means “preservation” of some type, and seems specifically to be used as an anti-logging slogan. I’m sure you must realize that your use of the words “harmonize” and “harmonious” are strictly personal-values declarations and are significantly different from what many others believe. Attempts to make your beliefs sound “scientific” include “climate mitigation & adaptation” and “biodiversity conservation” in your laundry list, but no logical connection to actual conservation. Maybe you would be more careful with your statements if you used your real name.

    • I saw maybe a little different irony – that sentence could have probably been written at any time during the last 50 years or so to defend logging: “… how a narrow focus on specific land management goals, such as (fill in the blank with whatever was competing with logging), can conflict with a more holistic management paradigm that seeks to satisfy a broader range of ecological and societal values.” (In the context of this blog post, “logging” would at least include removing mature and older trees.)

  2. For purposes of this “conservation” argument and using standard “wise use” lingo, I would contrast forest mgmt of the Menominee Tribe in N Central WI which has selectively, profitably, sustainably logged MOG forests for decades, with that of the FS’s decades-long use of clearcutting OG that essentially bankrupted forests of the PNW (and elsewhere) – legally and biologically – under the guise of conservation. I believe time has proven Menominees “wise”; FS not so much. I believe in USING NFs, which can logically include using public forests to store carbon and mitigate climate change while reaping manifold co-benefits. Likewise, “logging” need not be read to be confined to removing MOG trees and forests… unless that’s generally what you do!

  3. I’m left wondering… the USFS and others devoted huge investments and agency muscle to perfecting clearcutting MOG, overcoming many hurdles (eg nursery supplied planting stock, herbicide spraying of leafy competition). Had they devoted themselves to alternate mgmt favoring retention of MOG, might we be in a whole ‘nother world now?

    • Jim, there is still a desire to plant trees regardless of clearcutting. Because natural regen doesn’t work for all species in all places. I think the FS went through a period of “hoping for the best” that naturals would always work, and now finds itself going to back to find out what they used to know.

      Of course, trees vs. no trees is a human value… but it seems better for carbon and many wildlife species as well.

      Another note, I remember clearly when a university prof from OSU came to K Falls and told us that the FS needed to do more clearcutting (and be more like Weyco) because it was more “efficient.” Prior to that the FS was perfectly happy not doing clearcutting where I worked (south central Oregon). Somehow R-6 got on the “intensive management” bandwagon, but the Modoc in R-5 was not on that bandwagon… so “the FS” was variable.

  4. Here’s some new images of a project I marked timber for, back in 2012. My guess is that these forests surely would have been considered to be “mature”. They hadn’t been ‘entered’ in many decades, and needed to have the highly-flammable smaller firs and cedars thinned out.,-120.3560354,287m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en
    (the image quality isn’t so good)

    The Caldor Fire bumped up against this project’s completed thinning units, allowing firefighters to use a prominent ridge as a flanking fireline. There was some very minor ‘slop-over’.


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