Fwd: Re: Results of Nationwide Survey on Forest Management

Co-Administrator Co-Administrator at forestnet.com
Tue Feb 14 11:38:22 EST 1995

This is great!  I'd love to know more.

> They tend to favor active
> management of forests, including fire salvage and thinning to improve
> health, rather than letting nature take its course.  But they're closely
> divided on timber harvest issues, allowing logging in burned-over areas to
> delayed by legal challenges, and use of controlled fire.

I wonder if these questions (the jargon and the principles) were rally
understood.  It sounds to me like the public supports forest _health_,
whatever that is.  I wonder how they would answer a question asking whether
dead or damaged trees that provide nesting or den cavities and food should
be removed from public forests.

> U.S. FOREST SERVICE.  74% favorable; 8% unfavorable.  11% recognize
>  name/can't rate; 8% don't recognize.

Unless the question also included the National Park Service, I find this a
suspicious result.  It has been my experience that 74% of the public does
not know the difference between the US Forest Service and the National Park
Service.  For that matter, a _very_ large portion of the students in our
college do not know the difference.

> 4/5.  How much land was burned in wildfires this year compared to average?
>     Greater than average.... 49%            55% said, "extinguish all fires
>     Less than average.......  7%            to preserve as much forest as
>     About the same ......... 36%            possible."  36% said, "allow
>     Don't know/refused......  8%            fires to burn themselves out
>                                             as part of the natural cycle."

I would be very interested in what the public was thinking about the
consequences of preventing fires versus letting them burn.  Do they believe
that we can prevent _all_ fires?  Is there a limit to the resources in
dollars and life that should be invested to prevent forest fires?  Do they
differentiate among fighting fires (1) near settlements versus wilderness,
(2) private versus public lands, (3) National Parks versus National
Forests, (4) old growth versus managed regrowth?  What is the public's
thinking about the wisdom of certain small losses with regular controlled
buring versus an unknown risk of catastrophic loss with a total fire
prevention policy?

> 7.  Harvesting timber on federal lands (excluding national parks):
>          Favor........47%
>          Oppose.......44%
>          DK/refused....9%

This is interesting, but I would like to know more.  In a 1988 survey of
NY's Allegany State Park (which is managed), the question was asked whether
or not respondents supported "controlled cutting of trees should be
conducted to:
                                                             Agree  Disagree
   Improve hunting                                            20%      67%

   Improve wildlife observation                               55%      24%
   Improve bird watching                                      43%      30%
   Improve trails                                             63%      18%
   Improve scenic vistas                                      61%      21%
   Provide firewood for park patrons                          32%      50%
   Provide wood for facility rehabilitation in state parks    47%      33%
   Generate money for state park purposes                     40%      41%
   Generate money for other public purposes                   14%      72%

Respondents were randomly sampled from an area within 60 miles or so of the
park.  In this case it seemed that the public supports management if it
helps wildlife or the park, but are not very interested in killing wildlife
or trees for personal or corporate gain.

> 12.  Whose recommendations are most persuasive?
>          Scientists employed by universities.................43%

I take it all back -- obviously they know what's what!

> 14.  Which view is closer to yours?
>     A.   Favor use of controlled fire by federal authorities to thin the
>     forests so that wildfires are less damaging.................49%
>     B.   Oppose practice (as stated above) because of the possibility that
>     fire will spread, and because smoke from controlled fires causes air
>     pollution....................................................42%

It is unfortunate that the second answer is 'double barreled' -- we can't
separate fire damage to the forest from air pollution back home.

I should add that my comments are not intended to be critical in a negative
sense.  I appreciate only too well the limitations and simplification
necessary to implement a survey.  On the other hand, I think that a deeper
probing of the public's view of how their national forests (and parks)
should be care for is in order.

                         James F. Palmer, Director
 Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, and Landscape Imageing & Analysis Lab
  SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY  13210
   voice: 315 470-6548                   internet: zooey at mailbox.syr.edu

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Date: 	Wed, 8 Feb 1995 08:03:40 -0500
To: forest at nic.funet.fi
From: zooey at mailbox.syr.edu (james f. palmer)
Subject: Re: Results of Nationwide Survey on Forest Management
Cc: dgorr at ucdavis.edu

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