Here is an indexed 60-minute primer on how “Wild Science” led the way to the creation of the Northwest Forest Plan — basically by six people and three animals: the “Gang of Four,” Bill Clinton, and Judge Dwyer; spotted owls, marbled murrelets, and coho:
This video is Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin promoting their new book, The Making of the Northwest Forest Plan, at Oregon State University, mid-May 2023, during which they give a surprisingly honest assessment of how they did it, how it has turned out, and what needs to be done next. I’ve highlighted key words, phrases, and acronyms on the index, so you can just skip to any part you think might be interesting. This is the best 60-minute summary to the Northwest Forest Plan I’m aware of, and I’m guessing it also summarizes their new book fairly well.
They never say “HCP,” they just refer to federal streamside buffers being critical next creations on state, private, and tribal lands and the most important current political focal point — see Oregon’s State Board of Forestry, Private Land Accord, and former “First Oregon State Forest,” the Elliott, for definition and update. That, and systematically killing barred owls in the name of racial purity. I am in full agreement, though, as to what happened to all of the “critical habitat” in the Labor Day Fires — and also the lasting economic damage to affected rural communities; both barely mentioned.
Biased summary follows Index.
3:30 Norm Johnson /spotted owls
5:40 Pinchot stable communities objective: “old-growth was the fuel for the sustained-yield engine”
6:40 ESA litigation
8:35 Jack Ward Thomas: “It’s not science. It’s scientists doing planning.” “Wild Science!”
10:40 Jerry Franklin: “A different kind of science . . . Who was going to get the money? . . . All kinds of dead wood = Healthy Forest”
17:00 Norm: “The Power of Scientific Authority . . . shocked the world . . . if the managers would just stay out of the way”
19:05 Gang of Four: Norm & Jerry talk old-growth and politics: Accepted by USFS Fall 1990
22:00 “We can map the old-growth in a week!” “Don’t forget about the damned fish!” (Congress)
24:40 Jerry: Yacolt Burn becomes artificial standard for 80-year-old trees (LS/OG!)
“That rule, which they dreamed up in an afternoon, is still there! It’s kind of amazing!”
“Only complete forest ecosystems in the Douglas Fir Region . . . the organisms . . . the processes.”
27:00 [Jim Sedell]/Gordie Reeves: “Gang of Four = Big Kahunas.” Gordon story: “People don’t care about spotted owls — you [fish biologists] just changed the game”
30:15 Norm: “Amazing change: 300-foot buffers on fish-bearing streams” “Fund restoration”
30:35 “Gang of Four Choices” Personal values in 3 or 4 days — “kind of amazing!” Congress approved! They understood owls and fish were incompatible with timber harvest
34:50 Gordie: USFS Planners Really Upset — “probably easiest conclusion I ever reached in my career”
35:55 Spotted Owls: Spring 1992 Judge Dwyer “really changed things” w/ESA invertebrate surveys
36:45 Clinton Plan: FEMAT LS/OG = 2x”Deeply Disappointed” = Option 9 LSRs Riparian Reserves Matrix
40:05 Jerry: Option 9 was “more efficient method of preservation” bringing aquatic-terrestrial together
41:05 Norm: President’s Plan “Released July 1, 1993 after a Furious Debate within the White House” 75% Decrease in Sales vs. spotted owls, marbled murrelets, salmon (Quotes Obama)
42:50 Public Criticism: massive drop in cut = negative employment/community impacts — no Tribes involved — Lawyers need more “protections”
43:40 Northwest Forest Plan: Dwyer “admires and approves” “greatly expanded (x 2) Riparian reserves”
“Moist and Dry” Forests and “the harvest level collapsed” — USFS timber had “near death experience”
47:50 30-Year Scorecard: “Moist Forest plantation thinning saved the federal timber program”
“Stabilized habitat” until the 2020 Labor Day Fires and barred owls . . .
fish need more buffers on lower tree farm and agricultural lands, too
difficult to provide economic assistance to displaced workers and damaged communities
50:20 Why the NWFP Matters: Implemented ecosystem planning: science & lawyers (Trump cite)
50:45 Recommendations: Kill barred owls, adopt “Moist Forest” planning, focus on private properties
Tribes were completely ignored, except for fish benefits — need to be included
started with one listed fish — now more than 30; needs to include private lands for buffers
Jerry: need to manage for future habitats based on current “science”
56:00 Questions: 1) “Survey and Manage?”: doesn’t apply to plantations; hasn’t been “court-tested”
2) BLM “storyline” regarding “conservation?”: “Most innovative . . . in adopting ecosystem management”
3) Wildfire and climate change: Jerry: “Obviously plantations most susceptible to change”
4) Eastern Oregon ladder fuels should be treated: no comment
5) “Newer goals” should include carbon sequestration: no comment
Bottom Line: Jack Ward Thomas said that “This isn’t science. This is planning done by scientists.” He was exactly right. In my opinion, we should have relied on experienced professionals from the beginning — this experiment of having nameless modelers construct our resource management plans — and our public employee hiring criteria — has been an obvious and costly failure. In 1990 the ESA-endorsed spotted owl allowed the “Gang of Four” and two fish biologists to impose “Ecological Forestry” on our public lands. In the Douglas Fir Region the result has been dozens of catastrophic wildfires, bankrupt counties, millions of dead wildlife, tens of thousands burned homes, thousands of failed businesses, and hundreds of deaths. The cost is in the tens of billions and continues to increase daily. When is it time to say “enough,” and return the active management of our public resources to local control, where the true experts live? Compare the 33 years of successful forest and wildlife management preceding 1990 to the 33 years that have followed. ESA bureaucrats have only been the silent tip of the iceberg in this mess. In my opinion.