More Sierra Club propaganda

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 16 19:55:02 EST 2002


A Burning Issue: Helping Loggers, Hurting Forests

By CHAD HANSON

Scores of scientists and the federal government's own national fire
plan have concluded that the removal of mature trees from forests
increases the severity of forest fires. Why then would the Bush
administration use the threat of fires to try to increase logging of
mature and old-growth trees in our national forests?

>Funny, he doesn't mention the ban on cutting 30" dbh "old growth"
that has >been in effect since '94. If he considers trees in the 9-22
inch range "old >growth", then maybe he'd better get another degree
from college. The >California National Forests voluntarily restricted
it's cutting and instituted >a version of "ecosystem management".

That is clearly the administration's intention, as outlined in two
recent memos on revising the Northwest Forest Plan and the "Sierra
Nevada Framework" plan to allow logging companies increased access to
ancient forests on public lands. The move is being led by Mark Rey, a
former timber industry lobbyist and a President Bush appointee who
oversees the Forest Service.

>SNF has a history of fatal flaws within it's findings. It recommended
70% >burning and 30% mechanical removal of trees by thinning. You
can't burn little >bits of a huge pile of kindling without risking the
whole pile. Making stands >of trees "drought resistant" through
thinning and a program of prescribed >fire should be a priority.
 
In the Sierra Nevada, the administration intends to "modify" the
current Sierra framework plan to increase the size of trees that could
be removed, which would allow widespread logging of old! -growth trees
in national forests. The administration also has indicated its
intentions to eliminate the current requirement to maintain small
stands of remnant ancient forest and to reduce the existing standards
for maintaining forest canopy cover. This would greatly undercut the
Sierra framework, which limits logging of mature trees in national
forests in the Sierra Nevada. The framework was the result of several
years of planning and public participation during the Clinton
administration. Bush administration officials imply that this logging
is needed to protect homes from forest fires. Yet the Forest Service's
own scientific reports show that the best way to protect rural homes
from fire is to reduce the flammability of the home itself and its
surroundings within 100 feet. Wood shingles should be replaced with
fire-resistant roofing, and brush around the home should be cleared.
These steps protect homes even from severe fires.

>Today's firestorms are incredibly more intense than the fires of the
past. >Tree density and composition makes our Sierra Forests very
vulnerable to more >than a dozen likely scenarios, both natural and
man-caused.

As scientists point out, commercial log! ging actually increases fire
severity by removing large, fire- resistant trees and leaving behind
very small trees and flammable "slash debris"--branches, twigs and
needles from felled trees. The removal of mature trees also decreases
the forest canopy, creating hotter, drier conditions on the ground.
The additional sun exposure encourages the growth of flammable brush
and weeds.

>We did that back in the 80's....Duh! Eco-forestry WAS pioneered by
the Forest >Service, ya know.

Reduction of flammable underbrush can reduce fire severity, and
environmental groups have encouraged such projects. However, the Bush
administration has grossly misused the funds that Congress
appropriated for brush reduction near homes. In Sierra Nevada national
forests last year, more than 90% of these funds were instead earmarked
for preparation of large timber sales focused on the removal of mature
and old-growth trees miles from the nearest town.

The Bush administration's potentially dangerous fire management
policies demonstrate the need for Congress to pass legislation to
abolish ! commercial logging in national forests and to redirect
logging expenditures into brush reduction and home protection.

Until that happens, many politicians will continue to place the
economic interests of their timber industry campaign contributors
ahead of public safety and ecology.

>The original SNF diameter limit for cutting trees in the Sierra
Nevada >National Forests was 12". That effectively eliminated
commercial timbers >sales, and a vital tool for reducing fuels over
large areas. To me, a good >timbermarker should be able to thin ALL
sizes of timber as needed to promote >health and drought resistance
while retaining imporatant ecosystem values. Is >that too much power
to put in the hands and paintguns of USFS timbermarkers?

>Probably so but, I can dream, can't I?

>The USFS wants its timbermarkers to be certified cruisers. Why hasn't
the USFS >required timbermarkers to be certified silvicultural techs,
also? Is it more >important for the timbermarker to be accurate in
measuring trees or better at >selecting the right trees?

>Larry



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