OSU “Science”: Climate Change Caused $6 Billion in Losses to West Coast Tree Farmers

OSU “scientists,” citing taxpayer-funded and peer-reviewed economic, forestry, and climate research, have determined that “climate change” has cost Northwest tree farmers a loss of $6 billion dollars over the past 20 years. This “finding” is being sensationalized in much of the press, but even the more sober and usually realistic Oregon Business is reporting that: “The increased prevalence of wildfires and droughts due to climate change did not account for all of the value depreciation, but it was a significant driver. The study suggests that recent climate change is responsible for lowering timberland values by $6.2 billion, or 55% of the total devaluation.”

Here is the link: https://oregonbusiness.com/osu-study-wildfires-drought-have-reduced-the-value-of-west-coast-timber-by-11-2-billion/

The assumption seems to be that increased wildfires are a direct result of drought caused by climate change, resulting in risks to landowners causing decreases in property values that are apt to reduce tax rolls if we don’t do something about it. Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope:

“Our research results indicate that any policy that can successfully reduce the spread of wildfire could reduce risks for timberland owners and provide economic benefits in the form of higher land values,” writes David J. Lewis, a natural resource economist at Oregon State, who coauthored the study, in an email to Oregon Business. “The key question (not answered in our research) is whether the administration’s new wildfire strategy will actually be successful in reducing wildfire risks,” referring to the White House’s plans to develop a national strategy to estimate the impacts of climate change on the value of the nation’s natural capital, including forests, minerals, oceans and rivers.

An underlying problem is that no one has demonstrated that the climate is actually changing in this region, that droughts have resulted, or that the increase in regional wildfires is a result of those speculations. On the other hand, the regional increases in wildfire severity and extent have been clearly predicted using traditional scientific research methodology for more than 30 years because of radical changes in federal forest management policies and practices.

And these fires are occurring almost exclusively on public lands, and not private — even though the climate is remarkably similar for both ownerships. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good sales pitch. University professors need to eat, too.

42 thoughts on “OSU “Science”: Climate Change Caused $6 Billion in Losses to West Coast Tree Farmers”

  1. Excellent commentary Dr. Zybach. Thank you!

    I agree that “University professors need to eat too,” but they should not make their living by constantly scaring the public with stories of a climate apocalypse. Those of us with PhDs are smart enough to understand some of the complexities of the topics we study and should be responsible enough to give honest level-headed assessments. But Faustian Bargains have become far too tempting for many. Rather than be rewarded for scare tactics, University professors should be penalized for them.

    Late summer drought, high temperatures, and wind are nothing new in the Pacific Northwest. We cannot do anything about them. Windmills, electric cars, and carbon taxes will not help. What has helped in the past will likely help again, namely appropriate forest management. OSU professors are not needed to tell us that.

    Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
    Corbett, Oregon USA

  2. “But don’t let facts get in the way of a good sales pitch.” I haven’t read the link yet but I have no reason to doubt what their conclusion might be, and I’d rather hear Dr. Zybach’s assessment anyway.

    I see President Biden has enacted the “War Powers Act” to begin production of electric heaters. You know, to offset that evil efficiency of natural gas…..

  3. I think that all of us would like to find answers in how to deal with the West’s wildfire problem. So, climate change, is it corollary or causal to the increase in wildfire acreage burned? I guess that firstly, one has to determine whether it is actually a thing or is climate change made up? Bob, you assert that no one has proved that the climate is changing in Western Oregon. I did a little Google searching and there is information out there that in Oregon, average temps have risen, snowpacks have accumulated more slowly and melted quicker, and that drought occurrence has increased. I don’t know, I don’t live in Oregon but is this not true?

    As an aside, I have family that live in the Phoenix area and their summer was the hottest on record. They had temps of 110 or higher every day from June 30th to July 30th. Now, was that an outlier? Maybe, but how many outliers does there have to be before it is the new norm?

    You imply that these wildfires in Oregon are happening on federal land and not on private land. I found this article from 2020:


    I am sure it has its problems, but it seemed to have some decent information.

    When I worked on the Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie NF 30+ years ago, the prescription on Weyerhaeuser land was clearcut/plant Doug Fir. Is something different happening on private timberland now in Oregon? I really don’t see how that prescription is really preventing wildfires. They usually just burn right through those areas. Maybe I am wrong.

    Is your assertion that the causal factor for why we are now having large wildfire acreage is because the FS is not cutting enough trees compared to 30-40 years ago? I worked on the Bisquit Fire and I believe there were a number of factors for how that got as big as it did. Insufficient logging may have been one of them. Outside of the Wilderness Area, there appeared to have been a good bit of logging activity but yet the fire wasn’t stopped there. I was also on a fire west of Paisley that summer. Lots of managed areas that got burned but also there was the large ponderosa pine that survived quite nicely.

    The problem is complex, and the factors are numerous. I guess I just think that climate change is one of the factors but certainly not the only one. Can the Forest Service log its way out of the problem? I doubt it. Thinning is part of the solution but not the only answer.

    • Hi Dave: I read the same literature and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for 75 years and have done extensive oral history interviews with people born more than 100 years ago. The weather is about the same, and my research with documentation also shows about the same, and pollen analysis by experts shows it was a lot warmer about 7000 years ago.

      Before becoming a middle-aged college student I did thousands of acres of reforestation contracts for Weyerhaeuser, GP, and others and the prescription was almost entirely clearcut followed by Douglas fir plantations — which process I largely disagreed with, and partly because it was creating a contiguous canopy subject to potential crown fires, rather than retaining broad openings in places along ridgelines and waterways — “natural” fuel breaks that had existed for centuries and longer due to human occupation and land use. Of the 80,000+ acres my crews thinned and planted in the 1970s and 1980s, I’m not aware of a single acre that subsequently burned in a wildfire.

      The Labor Day Fires — predicted for decades — cover massive areas of federal timber and snags from previous fires before spilling onto privately-owned plantations, Same with homes, towns, and parks. Other than that, almost all major (10,000+ acres) fires in western Oregon have taken place almost entirely on federal lands. As clearly predicted.

      This problem took 50+ years to develop, with a sharp increase predictably following the Clinton Plan in 1992. It will take decades to fix, but that would be a great advantage to wildlife, rural communities, taxpayers, and consumers if undertaken. Kind of like what happened after WW II over the following 40 years. In my opinion, based on scientific evidence.

      • Thanks for the response Bob. I agree that there are consequences for the Clinton Plan. When I worked on the North Bend RD in 1991, they were selling 80 mmbf/year. The last I checked, the District is only selling a small fraction of that. In 1991, a lot of the second growth was coming on and needed thinning. As you well know, trees grow fast there and I can only imagine what the situation is like now, some 30 years later. The drastic reduction in 1992 was not the right approach. At the time though, I remember really struggling (on a slope) to get a d-tape around these massive Doug Firs when we were cruising, and I wondered if we really needed to be cutting those magnificent trees.

        I looked at 2022 cut and sold report and R6 sold 880,000 ccf that year. That’s a lot of timber but maybe only a fraction of what it needs to be. I don’t know. Hopefully someone will get it all figured out.

        • Thanks Dave: Total agreement on the massive Douglas firs — they should have been managed for longevity rather than logs or firewood. Or, much worse, as flammable snags. Still not too late for a lot of them, if we could find the will to do so. Decades of salvage, thinning, reforestation, and restoration would be my prescription moving forward. We know what needs to be done, but there are a lot of new regulations, entrenched bureaucrats, and legal experts blocking the way, according to experience and observation.

  4. Bob, please be gentle with the forest economists! At least OSU has some, and they have to do research which will be funded. That’s the way the system works, at least until the Dean has a sizeable pot of money and interested old folks get to set priorities…I’m not holding my breath 🙂

    Anyway, I looked at the paper and tried to relate it to my understandings of the way things work. From the abstract:

    “To illustrate the increasing large wildfire prevalence across the Pacific states of the western U.S., we calculate that privately owned parcels of timberland are about 8.25 km closer on average to the nearest large (>1000 acres) wildfire event during the first two decades of the 21st century than they were during the last two decades of the 20th century. Thus, the problem of understanding how large wildfire and drought stress impact the economic value of western U.S. forests is one example of a broader social problem of estimating how disturbance risks from climate change are already impacting the economic value of important natural capital.”

    So I would not buy timberland in Oregon due to what appears to me to be a shifting and undependable regulatory environment, based on what I read, at the State and maybe Federal level. This is probably correlated with increasing CO2 concentrations. So how to tease them apart?
    Time to call in some social scientists and have them interview people who might invest and people who are familiar with specific parcels and sales. Maybe you could get at it by looking at swings in prices? Sub regional variation in trends (Coast Range vs. Cascades) But how to tease those out from more general economic trends? So many possible explanatory variables for one dependent variable (timberland prices).

    Maybe the paper analyzes all these factors and more, but I didn’t read the whole thing. As it looks from the abstract, it seems to have looked at two things, prices and proximity to fires. (?)

    • Hi Sharon: I had my freshly earned OSU forest science credentials at the time of the Biscuit Fire and had a lengthy private meeting with the Forestry Dean at that time, looking for a chunk of the Donato money specifically to use my oral history credentials to systematically interview the actual experts in the field — the loggers, forest managers, and tree planters that had worked the area of the fire before it took place. And maybe a few who were involved in the backfires. Nope. No money for that. Better to spend on a few graduate students camping out for the summer and learning how to do seedling inventories. Yep, the paper looked at fire locations and compared them to proximity to private lands and “naturally” all of the landowners came to the same conclusions based on that single circumstance. Wonder what these “researchers” would charge for a bridge?

  5. “Our research results indicate that any policy that can successfully reduce the spread of wildfire could reduce risks for timberland owners and provide economic benefits in the form of higher land values.”

    So forest management is a key strategy to lessen the impact of wildfires? That’s a complete shocker. They are re-stating what I was taught at Humboldt 50 years ago.

    • Norm, I see these all the time in wildfire world. I deal with it by saying to myself “at least this research agrees with everyone else and with real-world experience” and compare it to studies that use satellite data and modelling one or two of many factors to come up with conclusions that don’t agree with other disciplines and real-world experience.

  6. It’s time we move past debating over singular causal factors driving wildfire activity. Whatever valid arguments were made about lost economic value of timberlands from wildfires, the overall message was undermined by climate denialism.

    There is a basic flawed logic to the argument: how are private timberlands losing economic value if wildfires are occuring “almost exclusively on public lands, not on private lands”?

    The 2020 Holiday Farm Fire is particularly illustrative of the catastrophic effects of wildfires burning in timber plantations:

    Those industrial plantations have now been stripped bare by post-fire salvage logging, becoming Oregon’s largest clearcut area–it’s visible from space. It’s hard to see any biomass left behind for future soil nutrients. Talk about lost economic value!

    Increased frequency of large-scale high-intensity fires driven by climate change is affecting all lands, public or private, forest or shrublands, wilderness or plantations. There’s no sense in trying to resurrect the past by ignoring the present or denying the future.

    • Hi Tim: I understand your belief system and have a pretty good idea how it may have developed. And yes, there is more than a “single causal factor” involving the increase in western wildfires — just as there is more than a single casual factor affecting timberland prices. Maybe you remember the 1980s, too. And we can both read about the 1930s. I have written about and extensively documented the damage from the Holiday Fire and the other Labor Day Fires and the massive winds drove those events onto private lands from federal lands. Other than that, almost every major fire in western Oregon since 1952 has taken place on federal lands, with a few spilling over onto private.

  7. “An underlying problem is that no one has demonstrated that the climate is actually changing in this region.”

    This claim—which doesn’t include a challenge to causes, anthopogenic or otherwise—is patently inaccurate. For example, just a few days ago, the Fifth National Climate Assessment was published. https://nca2023.globalchange.gov/

    Chapter 27 is titled simply, “Northwest.” The second paragraph of the Introduction, in its entirety:

    “Climate change observations in the Northwest are consistent with projections from previous National Climate Assessments.4,5,6 Annual average air temperatures in the region have risen by almost 2°F since 1900. Washington and Idaho have warmed by nearly 2°F, and Oregon has warmed by 2.5°F. Relative to 1900–2020, the annual number of extremely hot days and warm nights in the Northwest has been above the long-term average over the past decade, and the annual number of extremely cold nights over the same period has been below the long-term average.7,8 By the 2080s, annual average temperatures in the Northwest are projected to increase by an average of 4.7°F under a low scenario (SSP1-2.6) and by an average of 10.0°F under a very high scenario (SSP5-8.5) relative to the period 1950–1999.9 Future warming in the region is expected to exacerbate regional heatwave intensities (KM 27.5).8,10”

    Here’s the list of chapter “authors”:

    Federal Coordinating Lead Author
    Li Erikson, US Geological Survey, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
    Chapter Lead Author
    Michael Chang, Cascadia Consulting Group
    Chapter Authors
    Kathleen Araújo, Boise State University, CAES Energy Policy Institute
    Erica N. Asinas, University of Washington, Climate Impacts Group
    Samantha Chisholm Hatfield, Oregon State University
    Lisa G. Crozier, NOAA Fisheries, Northwest Fisheries Science Center
    Erica Fleishman, Oregon State University
    Ciarra S. Greene, Sapóoq’is Wíit’as Consulting
    Eric E. Grossman, US Geological Survey, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
    Charles Luce, USDA Forest Service
    Jayash Paudel, University of Oklahoma
    Kirti Rajagopalan, Washington State University, Department of Biological Systems Engineering
    Elise Rasmussen, Washington State Department of Health
    Crystal Raymond, University of Washington, Climate Impacts Group
    Julian J. Reyes, US Department of Agriculture
    Vivek Shandas, Portland State University

    Thus, it is clear that “someone” has demonstrated that the climate is actually changing in the region. Continued argument over Bob’s claim is a distraction from solutions (mitigation and adaptation) and generally a waste of time. The claim and responses turn TSW into little better than a denier blog.

    • Hi Toby: I don’t recognize any of those names, but I’m guessing they are largely representative of computer modelers working at taxpayer expense? That would just emphasize my point, rather than challenge my assertions. Can you show me where anyone has actually “demonstrated” that the climate is changing, as I’ve asserted? I’m assuming you believe that human actions are responsible for such changes, but where is there any evidence? Or are we just talking about changes in digital thermometer readings in the past few decades, or satellite data that has recently developed? Like Eisenhower warned us not to do?

      Not sure how my claims are a “distraction” from mitigation — I’ve been arguing for just that for the past 35 years. I’ve also argued that people and many other animals and plant species have always adapted to changing climates for millions of years, even if people are actually changing the climate at this time. Which I continue to doubt due to lack of actual evidence.

      • You made a blanket claim—”no one.” This is a classic debate 101 error. I only needed to produce one but produced a dozen “someones” who directly refute your claim.

        As for mitigation, you are probably using it in the traditional sense, as in mitigation for impacts identified in a NEPA review. I am referring to the use of the term to describe ways to reduce GHG emissions as “mitigation” for anthropogenic global warming (AGW—which you deny exists).

        • Toby: I clearly said “demonstrated” and you didn’t list a single such person that I could see. Just a list of names and affiliations and a Chapter title. I’m still guessing modelers — not demonstrators, which is a big difference.

          We were talking about wildfires and climate change — not about GHG emissions. I’m for actual mitigation based on documented causes and effects. Yes, I was using “mitigation” in the traditional sense because I have little interest in your selective interpretation of the word. Way too political for my purposes.

          • I could post all the referenced science “demonstrating” the conclusions stated in the National Climate Assessment (and any other science that doesn’t meet your approval) and you would still find a way to deny it. Your denial is extremely deep and well rooted.

            Indeed, you would be as big a waste of time to engage with as Anon except that I am compelled to counter your denial so long as Sharon allows you (and Gordon Fulks) to convert a forest policy blog into a denier forum. Have at it.

            • Thanks Toby: Your ability to work “deny,” “denier,” and “denial” into a few short sentences after having been specifically requested to stop with the name-calling is truly remarkable. At least you use your real name, which does put you a step above the Anon troll. I’m pretty sure that Gordon and I were not the first to discuss climate change in terms of forest management. The literature goes back decades, in case you missed it. And includes many years of discussion on this forum. Seems to run counter to your beliefs, but science is a game of critical thinking and challenges, not beliefs.

              • You’re the one whose position is grounded on “beliefs,” not me. Furthermore, I think your (and Fulks’) critical thinking skills are far lower that of the thousands of scientists—the vast majority—who disagree with your denialism. Ooops, sorry…

                • Good one, Toby! I guess you are just a lot more clever than me — no denying that! Apology accepted, and with that I’m just going to have to give up. Just no match for your superior mastery of words! I do still recommend a dictionary, though, to improve the actual meanings of your vocabulary.

    • Dear Toby,

      You give yourself away by labeling scientists as “deniers.” Those of us who are not employed by the climate industry are very skeptical of it’s constantly self-serving pronouncements about a coming climate disaster.

      And those of us who are knowledgeable about models realize that they are very far from correct, because they cannot do the underlying physics correctly. So modelers make up ways to circumvent the science and produce the results they want. That makes them no better than computer games.

      How do we know this is true? We can run the models to see if they reproduce what we have already observed. When this is done, we find that the models run excessively hot to reflect the opinions of their creators. That is not science. It is just story telling.

      Attempts to persuade ordinary people that consensus is the way science is done are very wrong. Science is the opposite of consensus. It relies on the willingness of scientists to speak up about substandard work, even when confronted with vicious name-calling.

      The 2022 Nobel Laureate in Physics, John Clauser, has it right when he points out that clouds are a far more important regulator of our climate than carbon dioxide and hence far more likely responsible for some of the variations we see. We already know that ENSO cycles are extremely important too. Carbon dioxide simply cannot compete with the dominant climate phenomena.

      You should stop supporting superstitions. Our climate is just behaving as it always has, with large natural variations.

      Gordon J. Fulks, PhD (Physics)
      Corbett, Oregon USA

      • “You give yourself away by labeling scientists as “deniers.””
        “You should stop supporting superstitions.”
        “vicious name-calling”

        It’s an utter waste of time arguing with you. You’ve got your talking points and nonsensical statements memorized and you’re unlikely to ever change them.

        The newest point you have is the gift Clauser gave you by stepping out of his expertise to pontificate on climate science. If you want to try your hand at supporting Clauser where real climate scientists can respond, go here: https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2023/11/clauser-ology-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs/

        Calling you a denier is not name-calling; it’s a fact.

        • Toby: Please look up “fact” in the dictionary. Calling someone a name — such as “denier” — is widely recognized as the definition of name-calling. You should know that.

          • You are a denier. Not of the Shoah, but of the crises playing out in front of us due to a political economy that cannot change course any faster than a loaded oil tanker going full speed toward a large iceberg.

            It is common usage to call people who do not accept the well established science and facts of anthropogenic climate change “deniers.” Tough isn’t it? I don’t like that Sharon lets you (and Fulks) continue to spew your irrelevant nonsense, but at least she lets me respond.

            Do this search: “Is it wrong to call climate change deniers deniers”

        • A little more on Clauser (et. al.).

          “In 1972, Clauser conducted groundbreaking experiments on quantum entanglement, a process in which two or more particles are coupled so that any change in one particle triggers a simultaneous change in the other, even if they are separated by vast distances. The experiments confirmed a phenomenon that Albert Einstein had famously referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” They also paved the way for technologies such as quantum computers, which can solve problems too complex for classical computers.

          Clauser, who has never published a peer-reviewed paper on climate change, has homed in on one message in particular: Earth’s temperature is primarily determined by cloud cover, not carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. He has concluded that clouds have a net cooling effect on the planet, so there is no climate crisis.

          Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that argument is “pure garbage” and “pseudoscience.” The “best available evidence” shows that clouds actually have a net warming effect, Mann said in an email. “In physics, we call that a ‘sign error’ — it’s the sort of error a freshman is embarrassed to be caught having made,” he said.

          Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, agreed. “Clouds amplify warming,” Dessler said in an email, adding, “The scientific community has spent the last century studying [climate change] and, at this point, virtually everything that’s happening has been predicted. John Clauser and his ilk ignore this because they are not advancing serious scientific critiques.”

          “There is a skeptical streak in the physics community regarding climate science,” Nadir Jeevanjee, a research physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, wrote in a recent critique of Koonin’s book. In an interview, Jeevanjee said that while climate science is based in physics, not all physicists are experts in climate science. But that hasn’t stopped some distinguished physicists from portraying themselves as experts and sowing doubt, he said. “When they talk, people listen,” said Jeevanjee, who emphasized that he was speaking on behalf of himself and not NOAA. “It stokes the flames of denial.”

          Also, Clauser was quoted as saying: “I call myself a climate denier.”


  8. Tim, I’m not arguing there is no AGW, so there’s that. But we can put aside Bob’s argument on that and talk about the paper.

    In the paper it say nearby fires wake people up to the risk and that reduces prices, so that would cross from public to private lands.
    It seems to me that you can’t generalize about “timber plantations and fire”.. it probably depends on exactly what the fire and weather conditions were, what the exact species and practices were, age of trees, slope and aspect, all that kind of stuff.
    For example from our old TSW friend Derek Weidensee sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

    • I read Derek’s article. It is interesting because I have seen that very thing myself in Montana. I was on the Bitterroot fires in 2000 and saw where crown fires in lodgepole would drop to the ground when they would hit clearcuts with regeneration of 10 feet or so. The fires would proceed through the clearcuts on the ground, leaving the regen green and then once again become a crown fire in the adjacent mature lodgepole stand. After the fire went through, the only green left was in these clearcuts.

      So, there are a couple of things here. Where I saw this happening was in lodgepole stands. Of course, lodgepole is particularly receptive to crown fire. These clearcuts had been planted and there was adequate spacing between the regen to prevent tree to tree ignition. I am not sure if it was standard practice to rx burn these stands prior to planting, but apparently, there was not sufficient ground fuel to transition to the crowns of the regen. I am sure there were other factors that I don’t understand. While I saw this in Montana, I have also seen many regenerated clearcuts elsewhere that were completely burned. There are a lot of factors to consider, as you suggest.

  9. BZ would acknowledge that big fires that swept the OR Coast Range circa 1850s started on pvt land, burning through fed lands that later became Siuslaw NF. That was then…
    So, am I to gather if the feds would just wake up and manage their lands like they used to, like pvt industry still does, CCing MOG, creating a sea of plantations – Hey! it’s all good, no more big fires! Wow, time to reboot.
    I find this shockingly naive. Where do I even begin? Lowland pvt lands don’t get the lightning that higher elev Cascade NFs do, Coast Range gets almost none (where much industry land is). PNW is experiencing drought, higher winds, fire is catching up on lands that went “fire-less” for decades. To suggest that climate change is not visiting PNW forests… REALLY? Research shows that plantation fires are more destructive than those in MOG. I’ll stop there.

  10. Hi Jim: In the 1850s Oregon was a Territory and most of the Coast Range was owned by the federal government at that time, too. The fires in that region were almost definitely started by people at that time and for the preceding thousands of years, too, for the simple reason that lightning rarely occurs on the Coast Range, active volcanoes don’t exist, and people use fire every day everywhere. Not sure where you are getting your “research” information on plantation fires, but it does come across as “shockingly naive.” You might want to read my book on the topic and check out a few of my dozens of articles on the same over the past few decades for a more factual perspective.

    • “You might want to read my book”
      That might explain a lot – free advertising (only $85 at Barnes and Noble). https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-great-fires-bob-zybach/1128320770

      So yes, Native American burning had an effect on Oregon Coast Range forests, but you need to draw the connection between that and the broader Pacific Northwest and Northwest Forest Plan that you often apply your research to. (I don’t think the NWFP prohibits burning.) Especially if your data ended in 1951. If pre-European burning was important, I would think that years of fire suppression might have had an even bigger impact than excluding native burning in most places (especially given the tendency for non-natives to do some inadvertent burning, too) – how do you apportion these causes (and why)? What does your research say about the ecological effects of industrial forestry that you would like to see more of? And your prediction of a future climate that looks just like the past – it doesn’t seem like that could based on anything in your book. (No, I’m not going to buy the book to look for it.)

      • Thanks Jon: Appreciate the plug and link! Yes, my research for my dissertation ended in 1951, but my subsequent research and writings continue in western Oregon and northern California to the present. The same is true for my thoughts on industrial forestry, which includes my own professional experience for 20+ years as well as 40+ years of articles, interviews, and editorials (yes, I am old). The book is a refined version of my dissertation, which includes a significant portion related to weather and climate, which were guided by George Taylor, who was on my committee, wrote extensively on the topic, and was Oregon State Climatologist at the time. Since you are too cheap (rational?) to buy the book, here is a free copy with different pagination, a few more typos, poorer graphics, and a lot more pages due to formatting — the weather/climate intro is on pages 18-35: http://nwmapsco.com/ZybachB/Thesis/Zybach_PhD_2003.pdf

    • Jim.. I didn’t read the paper but wouldn’t it depend on the age and spacing of the trees? Like a 5 year old plantation would be different from say, a 20 year old plantation.. and spacing, and what the vegetation on the floor of the forest is. Also I’m not sure about “We leveraged a fire severity metric that integrates fire intensity and tree susceptibility. We demonstrated how industrial forest management increases these aspects of fire risk,” said Harold Zald, lead author and a former post-doctoral”. But here’s a standard view https://www.nwfirescience.org/sites/default/files/publications/ Fire%20Severity.pdf So if trees are short there will naturally be more burn and crown scorch. I’d be more interested in specific characteristics of a stand that reduced or increased specific measures of fire severity. Maybe the article explained exactly what practices constitute “industrial forestry” in the area of that fire. But that’s not to say that “industrial practices” can be generalized beyond the area studied.

      Maybe that was in the paper and lost in the media translation.

    • Hi Jim: You are right. I’ve mostly learned to avoid much of the OSU stuff that’s come out the past few years. Lots of modeling, “climate emergency,” and misleading summaries to deal with and little faith in research methods or results. Maybe you noticed the theme of this post, and I’ve done similar articles and editorials in the past regarding OSU research “findings” — beginning with Norm and Jerry’s ForPlan projections 30+ years ago.

      My own experience, observations, and documentation contradict this study. It really depends on site prep and many of the other factors noted by Sharon and others. In the B&B Complex, for example, crown fires on government land almost immediately went out and did little damage — other than scorching some adjacent trees — when they reached plantations on private land. Took photos of this circumstance and many others have recorded similar results with other major fires.

      I’ve noted many times that I have excellent records of the 80,000+ acres of industrial plantations my crews did in the 1970s and 80s and none seem to have been subjected to wildfire. That may have changed to some degree (but not much in the Douglas Fir Region) with new smoke management regulations that greatly reduced the quality of site prep during the end of that period by reducing broadcast burning opportunities and thereby leaving significant ground fuels on the plantation. Seems to have been a factor in many cases where the Labor Day Fires moved on to private lands from their federal origins.


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