Larry Harrell fotoware at
Tue Mar 31 12:44:09 EST 1998

Kirk Johnson <newkirk at> wrote in article
<newkirk-3003981523140001 at>...
> larryc at (Larry Caldwell) wrote:
> > So how do you propose to do it?  Burn it down?  That's where you're
> > unless you get some of the trash out of there.
> I think some prescribed burning is appropriate, maybe even _a little_
> thinning operations. I don't think that anyone should benefit from it
> commercially though, because then the process gets perverted into
> something it was never intended to be (I'm talking about Federal public
> lands mainly). You get the situation where to make the thinning operation
> more commercially viable, people are going to want to take a certain
> amount of healthy, big, green timber that shouldn't be taken. The process
> becomes no longer truly for the benefit of the health of the forest. 

In California, that happens to a very small extent because spotted owl
rules say that 30" dia. and up trees are "hands off" except for safety
concerns. ( Another story altogether ) I've inspected mechanical thinning
contracts of the kind you are talking about and how is the FS supposed to
pay for the cost of treating the hundreds of thousands of acres that need
it. FS pays $350 per acre to thin with all wood products going to the
operator as additional profit. And no large trees are cut.
> I also think that letting forest fires burn where they have always
> where they are a natural function of the ecosystem, is the only
> appropriate way to go. That will help in large part prevent the build up
> of the unnatural fuel loads. With regard to the people who say 'but my
> house will burn down!', maybe they shouldn't build their house in the
> middle of a lodgepole pine forest or other fire-prone areas. I have about
> as much sympathy for their house burning down as I do for those who build
> their house on the edge of a beach cliff in southern California, or up on
> stilts in the hurricane-prone southern East coast (not much sympathy -
> what do they expect?).

It is way too late for preventing the build up of fuels. There is 80+ years
of unnatural fuel buildup in many areas plus the species composition has
been radically altered with the flammable true firs dominating areas that
used to be mostly pine. I would even go as far as advocating micro clear
cuts as a last resort for improving unhealthy pure fir stands. ( NO! Don't
call them clear cuts!.....Uh,...Call 'em....Regeneration units.....Yeah,
that's the ticket! )

> To me, the 'salvage rider' from '95, and the Smith bill were bald faced
> lies. If you want to cut more wood for the timber industry, then try to
> pass your legislation on the merits of that argument. Don't try to pass
> off as 'improving the health of the forest'.
> Kirk Johnson

I would only partially agree with that because there actually are foresters
in the FS that want to improve the land without the influence of the "V"
word ( volume ). Unfortunately, they are few and far between. Temporary
timbermarkers have been told that if more volume is marked, then more temps
can be hired next year. It is very difficult to straddle the fence on this
issue but, very satisfying to the soul. When in doubt, do what is right for
the land. 

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