USFS news from the Inside
dhogaza at pacifier.com
Mon Jul 26 12:17:36 EST 1999
In article <379b9d7e at news1.jps.net>, Larry Harrell <fotoware at jps.net> wrote:
>Don Baccus <dhogaza at pacifier.com> wrote in message
>One of the best-recognized CASPO experts, Jerry Virner (not sure of the
>spelling), has told other preservationists that some of their conclusions,
>based on NSO data, simply cannot be correct because of these new
I have no doubt of this. Indeed, I often argue the other side,
that data from NSO in second-growth redwoods can't be extrapolated
to coniferous forests to the north, as the timber industry so
heartily tried to do about five-eight years ago.
However, this doesn't make any of the work done by the biologists
"junk science", a pejorative term that will result in a less
than kind response on my part whenever you use it.
What's "junky" is the unwarranted extrapolation of data from
one ecosystem type to anotehr. That extrapolation is being
done for political ends by vested interests.
NOT BY SCIENTISTS.
Call it "junk politics", if you wish - most politics fits that
>When you take observed facts and make conclusions from
>conclusions from conclusions, new facts almost always render the old
>conclusions wrong. Of course, most of the reasons for the decline in CASPO
>are loss of habitat
Thanks. Your note implied you believe something quite different.
Perhaps you were just careless in your wording. I'm sure that
folks like Hultgren will just read and memorize your first post
and forget this clarification, though.
>but, there are major differences in comparing CASPO with
>NSO and what is essential for NSO is not necessarily true for CASPO.
>What is your "opinion" on how to fix the CASPO problem? A "hands off"
>approach is obviously wrong since we see no birds in the aftermath of stand
>replacement fires. Unfortunately, these fires are inevitable and controlled
>burning cannot ever be enacted on a large enough scale.
"hands off" for the whole Sierra Nevada's not possible, anyway.
There's no doubt that silvicultural techniques can recreate the
conditions required by CAPSO and NSO both - over time. It's the
latter that's one argument for keeping a "hands off" approach
for intact old-growth stands. In Oregon's coast range it might
well be possible to regrow NSO habitat in 40-50 years with proper
management. We don't know for sure, but I know there are silvicultural
experiments in place which are trying to shed light on the subject.
There's one other problem, and I'm not familiar with the CAPSO
situation in this regard, perhaps you are.
NSO the PNW forests are a surrogate species for the entire suite
of species dependent on old growth. The timber industry has
frequently blamed the conservation community for using the NSO
in this matter, but the reality is that the USFS made the
decision 15-20 years ago to use the NSO in this manner. Thus
this species was being monitored closely even before the "train
wreck" of the late eighties, while other species weren't.
This OFFICIAL dependence on NSO was partially broken by the
Clinton NW Forest Plan. One reason that Plan concentrated on
preserving old growth habitat rather than concentrate on
silvicultural means of regenerated NSO habitat was an EXPLICIT
recognition that while we might have enough knowledge to
create NSO habitat over time, we DON'T have enough knowledge
to create habitat for the NSO which also fulfills habitat
needs for the suite of species associated with old-growth.
In other words, since the USFS picked the NSO as an indicator
species for old-growth forests, recreating habitat for NSO
needs to ensure you're really recreating all the pieces of
the old-growth ecosystem.
OR - and this is another bit of the Clinton Forest Plan that
doesn't seem to be widely understood - you must decouple the
NSO and old-growth issues by not being so dependent on it as
an indicator species for the entire suite of things found in
The Clinton Forest Plan (NW Forest Plan, officially) called
for close monitoring for a wide suite of species in order
to gather data on distribution and habitat needs.
Unfortunately, the USFS hasn't complied with the monitoring
provisions of the plan. They protest it's too expensive. So
we're still stuck with the NSO as indicator species for all
old-growth dependent species, which means that we're stuck
with preserving true old-growth no matter what we learn about
Unless the USFS wants to face further sets of ESA listings
as one-by-one it becomes clear that managing primarily for
owls while ignoring other species needs isn't working.
Ironically, we find the USFS choosing not to implement
monitoring despite its being declared crucial by scientists
working on the NW Forest Plan (I'm heavy into monitoring
myself, as it turns out). Conservationists fight for
monitoring, because those of us who are rational want
biology-based conservation, and we're severely shy of
If the USFS would spend money today on monitoring, it
would most likely lead to data and pressure that would
force less cutting of true old-growth, particularly stands
that are too small to be of use to NSO (but which are of
use to smaller, more sedentary old-growth species).
That's why they, and the industry, fight following the
monitoring requirements of the Plan. They don't care
about long-term effects on our National Forests or on
the industry, they strictly focus on the next decade
or so. They seem incapable of adopting a long-term
Long-term, though, monitoring is the only way we'll collect
the kind of detailed data needed to do stand management that
provides for the suite of old-growth species in decline.
This is pertinent at the moment because Washington Senator
Slade Gorton recently introduced a rider to make monitoring
as specified by the Plan optional, at USFS whim. The USFS
recently lost a court case, a straightforward decision
which essentially forced the USFS to follow its own Plan.
Gorton's rider is meant to override the court's decision.
- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at pacifier.com>
Nature photos, on-line guides, at http://donb.photo.net
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