Thinning on the Angeles National Forest> > "Ian St. John" <> wrote in message

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at
Tue Feb 24 10:17:40 EST 2004

"Bob Weinberger" <bobsstuff at> wrote in message news:<LqD_b.2286$921.1112 at>...
> Since you dispute or ignore anything that comes from me, it is fruitless for
> me to try to raise your level of understanding to a point that you might
> begin to understand what those of us who are close to the issue are trying
> to convey to you. And no that's not arguing from authority, its simply a
> statement that you need to do a little deeper homework yourself instead of
> assuming that you already know it all,  or can gain instant understanding by
> visiting a few URL's.

If he were to visit areas like the Black Hills, the San Bernardino
National Forest, the Utah National Forests, the southern National
Forests, the Sequoia National Forest (and monument) and many other
areas that have drought conditions, he'd see MILLIONS of dead and
dying pines (and I don't need any references....I've BEEN there!).
Most pines, especially Ponderosa pine, are naturally drought
resistent. Of course, his knee-jerk reaction is to simply blame it on
"global warming" and not on the effects of overstocking, species
conversion and high-grading. Yes, Ian, the drought we are having today
is merely moderate drought. Our pine forests have survived those
droughts and worse in the past. So, you cannot blame the current
mortality on global warming. I'm not going to debate on the issue of
global warming since I cannot definitively decide either way. If
global warming is imminent, shouldn't we be "adjusting" our forests to
reflect the new climate? Or would you just let nature "destroy" our
forests through drought, bark beetles and fire? How can you justify
pumping all that CO2 into our atmosphere just because you think it's
"natural"? How can you justify doing nothing while endangered species
habitat is being obliterated by catastrophic fire? How can you justify
leaving  those dead pines out in our forests, waiting for the next
wildfire to burn them at high intensity?

You refuse to believe anything we say, despite millions of dead pines.
I would like to see you answer those questions I've posed to you, Ian.
Tell us all, o mighty Canadian, how to manage 190 million acres of
public land. Nah...that would be futile. Tell us all how to manage our
Ponderosa pine forests. Nah....too big of an area. Just tell us what
to do with a forest that has 70% mortality just from a moderate
drought. Give us specific techniques on how to fix those forests,
unless you consider MILLIONS of "mature" dead pines to be "natural".
Be sure to include man and his forest impacts into your equation.

Maybe you should read something from Stephen Pyne, who is very
acquainted with dry pine forests. While he de-emphasizes widespread
thinning, he does acknowledge the need for thinning on some
overstocked sites.

"Because fire so depends on the living landscape, it makes more sense
to conceive its reinstatement as akin to reintroducing lost species,
like wolves. Putting fire back into a landscape is not a process of
simply reversing its removal. Success will depend on creating a
suitable habitat for reintroduction, because fire takes its character
from its context. All biomass is not fuel--and flame is not some kind
of ecological pixie dust that you can sprinkle over bad or ugly lands
and make them eventually better. Messed-up forests will only yield
messed-up fires. Fire is less a tool than a catalyst, and how it works
depends on its substrate. That rules out one-size-fits-all solutions.
Getting the right mix will have to be gained site by site and will
require solid ecological research.

What about the broader policy issues? We understand poorly the
boundary between natural and anthropogenic fire regimes--an issue of
some significance for nature reserves. We understand even less the
border between industrial and anthropogenic fire--the frontier
dividing the human burning of living biomass and our combustion of
fossil biomass. The furor over global warming is, after all, a crisis
of combustion. If we were to slash and burn tens of millions of acres
in the American West to restore fire, we would release an immense
stock of sequestered carbon. We need better on-the-ground practices
for fighting and lighting fires. Most strategies take a mechanical
approach--starting fires, stopping fires, shunting biomass around.
Instead, we need the fire equivalent of integrated biological control:
do spot-burns here, modify fuels there, kindle prescribed crown fires
somewhere else. The mix will always depend on location, location,

Not included in the mix is the public's dislike of smoke and the
amount of burn days allowable in the fall. It's literally impossible
to do the amount of burning that preservationists think will fix our
forests. Prescribed fire is a very valuable tool but not the panacea
that it's made up to be. Certainly prescribed fire will be needed for
"maintenance" of a stand that has had the excess fuels treated or

You'll just have to watch what happens and see if judges are convinced
that thinning is good for the longterm health of our forests.
Certainly there are still some "dinosaurs" left in the Forest Service
who want to push mill-friendly projects through. The courts will
easily reject the bad projects but, how many good projects will also
be rejected?

It's my goal to push the Forest Service towards being trusted by
Americans. I DON'T need to convince you, Ian.

Larry,    just watch us work to restore our National Forests

PS I'll be checking out the Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead areas of the
San Bernardino this week.

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